Cyclists overtook New Bern, North Carolina for the MS bike ride, a three day event from September 10 – 13. Proceeds went to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, which will not only fund their research for a cure but will also be used to help patients pay for medicine and equipment, such as wheelchairs.
The ride began with a staggered start, allowing the faster participants who ride 18+ mph to go first, then allowing the others in turn to begin their journey.
The sun warmed up the weather, a beautiful day with nearly no humidity greeted the MS ride. As the day progressed, clouds provided shade and a light breeze cooled off the cyclists. The course was flat with only a few slight inclines, perfect for long-distance riding.
The first checkpoint, about seven miles into the ride, held a crowd of cheering, shouting fans congratulating the cyclists on completing the first leg of the journey. Gatorade, water, fruit, and other snacks were provided. The cyclists stretched and refilled their bottles before continuing, rejuvenated. More rest stops were throughout the ride, about ten miles apart.
Groups passed other riders and then in turn are passed by faster cyclists. As the leader of the group began to tire, they drafted to the back to allow others to take the lead, breaking the wind as well as taking on the most speed.
A good drafting team works like a well-oiled machine, but when mistakes are made, results are catastrophic. A sudden unannounced movement can cause a domino-effect collision, affecting all the riders in the vicinity.
Once the final leg was completed, cyclists returned to Point Union Park, where more smiling faces congratulated them on a job well done.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS), is a chronic disease with a sudden onset which attacks the central nervous system. Neither the cause nor the cure is known, although there are treatments for flare-ups and management of symptoms. 200 people are diagnosed with this disease each week, and it is more common in women than men. Symptoms range from fatigue, lack of mobility, coordination problems, and hearing loss.
There are over half a million people in the U.S. with this disease, but even more numerous are their family and friends.
Anna Munson’s aunt was diagnosed with MS six years ago, and as a result they have grown closer together. In fifth grade she participated in the Walk for MS. She’s happy they have events like the walk and bike ride and hopes that a cure will be found.
Carlos Alvarez’s uncle has suffered from MS for as long as he can remember.
“It’s normal for me; I’ve known him this way all my life,” said Alvarez.
He lives in Colombia, where there is not an MS Society, and must deal with it by himself. The disease has taken its toll specifically on his legs, so he has to use a pair of crutches to get around. Most people assume he was born with leg problems; few realize MS has done this terrible thing to him.
“In school people teach about all these diseases, but not MS,” says Munson.
Alvarez agrees. “A lot of people don’t know about it. MS is kind of pushed aside.”
The two-day bike ride, which involved over 400 volunteers and 2300 cyclists, was divided into four routes of different lengths: 30, 50, 75, and 100 miles. They raised over one million dollars so far; they have a month left to reach their goal of 1.8 million.
Nathan Trevillian completed the 100 mile course for his mom, who has MS. The most rewarding part of the experience was making her proud. Rain, unfortunately, canceled the 75 and 100 mile routes the second day. The hardest part was fundraising; he found it difficult to find people to donate for the $200 minimum fee.
Trevillian said, “If more people know, more money could be raised to find the cure.”
Students and families aren’t the only ones involved. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, recently donated $15.5 million to create a research center for MS. Together, the cumulative efforts of people around the world are working to end the suffering of those with Multiple Sclerosis.