The small cardboard sign along the shoulder of Missouri Route 124, 24 miles from the finish line of the MS 150 Bike Tour, were beacons for the riders as they neared the end of their 150-mile odyssey Sunday.
A smiley face donned the first sign. It read: “2 miles to rest stop.” Another sign was similar, signifying only a mile to go until the rest stop. A final sign was the last bit of motivation riders needed. It said: “Fresh Fruit; Trail Mix; Rest Stop No. 6.”
“This is the good rest stop,” one rider said to her riding partner. “Have you tried their Jell-O shots? They’re not alcohol. They just have little cups of Jell-O.”
Rest Stop No. 6 didn’t have any Jell-O shots for Sunday’s riders, but made up for it with a large assortment of food including homemade cookies and brownies.
“We like to spoil the bikers,” said Pat Minute, who ran a rest stop for the second year with the help of family and friends. “We want them to feel special.”
“All the rest stops are good,” rider Chris Saulet said. “I like this one. It has a good variety of snacks and energy food.”
It is the family’s second year running a rest stop. More than 400 people made up the volunteer staff for this year’s MS 150. Riders in this year’s event raised $1.75 million for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Volunteers manned the seven rest stops along the route and were also on the course ensuring the safety of riders. They swarmed the finish line cheering the riders to the finish.
For some volunteers, the day started before the riders embarked on the day’s 75-mile ride at 7:30 a.m.
Francis Macalady woke up at 4:30 a.m. so he could begin placing signs along the course telling riders where to go.
For Minute and her family, preparation began at 7 a.m. when the portable toilets were dropped off at the rest stop site.
“My 80-year-old mom cleans the toilets every 30 minutes,” Minute said. “The bikers love it because it smells like vanilla.”
Minute’s mother, Dolores Knoblock, doesn’t mind the job.
“I’ve raised seven children,” she said. “I’ve cleaned a lot of diapers.”
Besides giving each toilet a heavy dose of French vanilla aerosol spray, Knoblock provides hand sanitizer for the riders.
“It’s fun. I get to talk to the bikers,” Knoblock said. “It’s for a very worthy cause and I’m going to volunteer for the same job next year.”
Eleven miles down the road, another rest stop awaited riders, the last one before the finish.
Michelle Walters said she noticed a difference in the riders since the beginning of the bike tour on Saturday.
“Yesterday I was at the very first rest stop and everyone was so excited and ready to go,” she said. “Now the riders are hot and tired, but they’re still in good spirits.”
Kimberly Klopfenstein, 9, was in good spirits as she prepared to finish her sixth MS 150. For the first four tours, Kimberly rode on a “Tag-Along” bike attached to her mother’s bike. Last year, she rode the entire 150 miles on her own for the first time.
“This year was fun, but hilly,” Kimberly said. “It was harder than last year.”