Craig Johnson has over two decades of Bike MS experience under his belt. Johnson plans to continue riding for as long as he is capable because he learned from his best friend, Evans, that he should never take a movement for granted.
Over the years Johnson watched his best friend transition from driving his own handicapped accessible van to walking with canes, walkers, riding a motorized scooter and finally having to be hoisted in and out of bed.
“Each passing year showed me the devastation that this disease can have on a human body,” said Johnson. “It made me appreciate even more the blessing I had. I no longer took movements for granted, and I wanted to participate in the fight against MS.”
Johnson is the captain of his Bike MS: Tour de Farms team, the Smokin’ Spokes — one of the oldest participating teams, which began in the early 90’s with his friend Ben Ramsey.
“The reason I continue to participate each year is because of my best friend Evans,” said Johnson, who was inspired by his friend’s dedication to living his life to the fullest and not letting MS get the best of him. If you asked him how he was doing, he always responded, “I’m having a ball!”
He trains for Bike MS much like Evans lived, refusing to let the difficulty of the journey and the limits of his body affect his state of mind. “To me, being mentally prepared is as important as being physically ready,” Johnson explained. “My slogan is ‘Conditioning Mind, Over Muscle, Over Miles.’”
With the right mindset in place, all that’s left for Johnson is the actual training. When it comes to cycling events, Johnson is exclusive to Bike MS, and his training regimen for the two-day ride has changed very little in the past 25 years.
He has been actively cycling for almost 45 years, generally riding between 2,000 and 3,000 miles a year.
“It’s a good workout, doesn’t cost a fortune, and you can meet a lot of good people who enjoy doing the same thing,” said Johnson about why he got involved in biking. In fact, that’s how Smokin’ Spokes began, just a few good people who enjoyed doing the same thing. John Cheatham began riding with Craig in 1995 and has ridden in every Bike MS: Tour de Farms since. Kevin Lee and Virgil Cross Jr. arrived shortly thereafter and all remain teammates but more, good friends. To this day, Smokin’ Spokes continue to live out his ambition: “I ride whenever the opportunity arises.”