Joe Louis Barrow Jr. bikes for bucks in PGA Tour ride

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Joe Louis Barrow Jr. might not have Tour de France cyclists in his sights, but he now has a “great deal of respect for them.”

Barrow, executive director of The First Tee program, gained that respect after the 16th annual PGA Tour MS 150 Bike Tour Sept. 21-22.

“It’s extraordinary what those guys do and how resilient their bodies are. Those are some solid athletes,” said Barrow, who competed in the 150-mile division of the ride. Barrow rode a round-trip circuit between the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., and Plaza Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach.

The 16th annual event drew approximately 2,000 bicyclists in three divisions (150 miles, 150 kilometers or 100 miles on the first day). The official total of money raised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is not in yet, but the event had a $750,000 goal.

Barrow, who took up bicycling for exercise and competed in the event for the first time, said he tries to bike 10 miles per day when he is in town and 20-30 miles on the weekend.

Barrow, who has lost 12-14 pounds and two waist sizes, trained for the PGA Tour ride in only six weeks.

“I feel like I’m in great shape,” said the 55-year-old Barrow.

Although he registered for the 150-mile division, Barrow said he rode slightly more than 160 miles.

“When they mapped out the route, it was longer than 75 miles,” said Barrow, who recalled that his bicycle odometer read 75 miles, but a sign said, “Six miles to go – no pain, no gain.”

“Unfortunately, the last few miles were right into a head wind, when you don’t need it,” he said.

Is bicycling harder than golf?

“It’s not harder,” said Barrow. “Certainly it has some similarities . . . you ride against the elements. Like golf, you play against the elements.”

Though the Tour de France is not in his future, this Tour event is.

“Wednesday (Sept. 25) was the first day for training for next year,” said Barrow, who raised more than $1,600 in pledges.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem did not participate this year, but has in previous rides, Barrow said.

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