Source: Sherman Publications

News
On the road to Texas
30th annual BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin

by Susan Bromley

April 02, 2014

Groveland Twp.- For David Vultaggio, temperatures reaching into the 50s this week means weather that is finally good for bicycling.

“Today is the day everybody and their brother will be out riding,” said Vultaggio on Monday, when temperatures were in the mid-50s. “At 40 degrees, your fingers and toes get cold, and below that, you really need to have your head checked.”

It’s been a long, cold winter, but next weekend, Vultaggio will bike 180 miles, and in temperatures that could very well be in the 70s or higher, when he rides in the 30th annual BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin, Texas. The two-day fundraising cycling ride, April 12-13, that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is the largest event of its kind in North America. More than $18.1 million was raised in 2013 from this event to fight the neuromuscular disease.

Vultaggio, 61, used to be a runner until he had to have knee replacement surgery in 2008, the same year he retired from Waterford Schools. He has always been active, but began bicycling as a regimen that is easier on the knees, while still providing great fitness benefits. He decided to participate in the BP MS 150 with encouragement from his son James and daughter-in-law Shannon, who live in Texas and are triathletes. Vultaggio chose this specific event to honor his friend, Sue Butrynski, a Brandon Township resident who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago and whom he describes as “an active professional, wife, mother and grandmother who is looking forward to many good years with her family.” He wants to help her and others with MS “lead powerful lives.”

Toward that end, Vultaggio began training in January. As snow-covered roads and bitter temperatures would not permit outdoor riding, he got a “trainer,” a piece of tripod equipment he hooks up his Signature road bicycle to, and began training in a spare room of the township home he shares with wife Beth.

This sort of training allows Vultaggio to get “seat time,” and is used like a stationary bike, while allowing him the feel of the bike he will ride the roads with. He trains about five days a week, for at least an hour, with longer rides of up to 3 hours. He averages between 15-17 miles per hour and changes gears for resistance to simulate climbing hills.

Despite the cold temperatures, Vultaggio has gotten in some outside rides at Independence Oaks and Indian Springs parks.

“Bicycling is like golf or anything else where you get to be outside and the scenery is always changing,” he said. “That is mainly why I am not a gym rat, it drives me nuts looking at a wall. Last week, at Indian Springs, I rode by five deer on the trail and they never spooked, they just watched me go by. I’m excited to see something other than snow.”

He expects that acclimating to Texas temperatures will be his most difficult challenge next week and he is also preparing for the ride by educating himself on hydration and calorie intake.

“The biggest danger, other than crashing your bike, is people who ‘hit the wall’ because they are dehydrated or burnt too many calories and their muscles cramp,” Vultaggio said. “I’m looking forward to being able to do this with the kids, they may have to drag the old man around, but it’s more than just meeting for dinner.”

BP MS 150 bicyclists will begin their day at around 7 a.m., he said, rain or shine, riding 75 miles, or about eight hours, to a campsite, and then get up the next day to do it again. On the second day, he is looking forward to seeing Beth and their two grandchildren, Celeste, 5, and Dominic, 4, holding signs and cheering them on.

Vultaggio has raised more than $1,600 so far for his ride against multiple sclerosis. Anyone wishing to help him in the fight against this disease can visit nationalmssociety.org and search “David Vultaggio” to donate to his team.