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At the Bike MS Saturday evening program, a man sitting in the front row, excitedly raised his hand when the MC asked who had been riding for twenty years. "More!" he yelled, "Twenty-three years!" That was Kirby Schlotterback, sporting his yellow “Livin’ the Dream” team shirt and a huge smile plastered on his face. Other than a shoulder compression sleeve on his right arm, he showed no signs of the long road he had to travel to get back to Bike MS this year.
Last November, Kirby was hit by a car while commuting home from work on his bike, landing him in the hospital for more than two weeks. After several difficult months of healing and rehabilitation, Kirby jumped back in the saddle with one goal in mind—to build up enough strength and endurance to ride at Bike MS. Kirby’s resilience and dedication helped him achieve that goal and, despite some lingering injuries, he rode 59 miles the first day and 26 miles on day two! His wife, Izzy, describes the first morning: "He started out behind me, but I kept looking back to make sure he was still there. I asked him to ride beside or ahead of me. I figured as long as he was ahead of me I would see if anything happened or came up. That’s all I needed to say...before I knew it, he was riding further and further up until I lost sight of him."
Kirby claims that he first came out to Bike MS "just to get a free t-shirt", but these days the ride is much more than the giveaways or even the personal challenge. He loves the camaraderie, the support and how he feels when he’s done with the first day. "We don’t know anyone personally with MS," says Izzy, "but love the idea of helping out in trying to find a cure, whether we knew someone affected or not. As we’ve been telling friends about the ride and wearing the jersey people have come up to us thanking us for our efforts because they have MS or have a family member affected by it."
Bike MS: Deception Pass Classic is the only organized ride the Schlotterbacks faithfully do every year. And now, with plans to retire to California in the near future, they are still not ready to give it up—they plan to fly up each September to continue the yearly tradition. "We are so happy when we come here," says Izzy, "I am so glad Kirby has this ride to look forward to. The Society is an inspiration and a great example to other rides and fundraising events."
Thank you Kirby and Izzy—we’ll see you next year for year number 24!