Riders get in gear for Bike to the Bay
Cyclists are hitting the roads this weekend across Delaware’s Kent and Sussex counties in the annual Bike MS: Bike to the Bay, in effort to fund research and treatment for those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).
The event, which will take place this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, gives riders six course options. Riders can choose from 17-, 45-, 75- and 100-mile, one-day options, or take part in either a 150- or 175-mile two-day ride. Saturday’s ride, on Sept. 24, will begin in Dover and end up at Cape Henlopen State Park, while Sunday’s ride will return to Dover.
“This is one of the biggest events that [the National MS Society’s Delaware Chapter] hosts,” noted chapter President Kate Cowperthwait. “It raises around $1 million each year. With so many options in the length of the ride, we can get a lot of people involved. A lot of our riders who haven’t done it before, or want to stay dry, will wait right up until the day of the event and decide to register and do it.”
Riders are provided with multiple break locations along the way, which offer food and drinks.
Registration is capped at 2,000 and, over the years, the numbers have fluctuated right around that number.
“We already have about 1,500 registered riders,” said Cowperthwait, as of last weekend. “We’ll get a few hundred more before the ride. This event accounts for almost half of our budget. With these donations, we fund HomeABLE and take care of utilities, mortgages and other things that those dealing with MS have to endure around their house.”
HomeABLE is a new project, designed by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, aimed at keeping individuals and families safe in their homes, providing things such as ramps and elevators, doorway widening, bathroom and kitchen modifications and stairglides.
Additional proceeds and donations will go to fund research on multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic, often disabling, autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. Symptoms can be mild, including numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. Progression of the disease is often unpredictable, and very from person to person.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF), more than 400,000 people in the United States suffer from MS, and an estimated 2.5 million people throughout the world are affected by it. Roughly 45 percent of the people with MS are not severely affected by the disease. Diagnosis typically occurs between ages 20 and 40, and affects more women than men, by nearly twice as much. Among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system.
“It’s a really fun ride,” said Cowperthwait, who has taken part herself over the years. “For the most part, it’s a pretty flat ride. And from Dover to the beach, there’s a slight decline, so it’s not difficult.”
One local group taking part is local personal trainer Lisa Velasco, who founded Custom Fitness by Lisa, based in Bethany Beach, and has helped dozens of individuals take charge of an active lifestyle.
“As far as our group goes,” said Velasco, “there are seven of us, and two are brand new to the ride. Our training began three months ago, and everyone is very excited.”
Six of the team riders are cycling the 75-mile route, while another is taking a stab at the 45-mile ride.
“We focused a lot on basic training for this ride, with one long ride per week,” she noted.
Velasco and some clients have even toured across the European landscapes in preparation for this weekend’s ride.
“Training has been a lot of fun,” said Velasco, who has helped clients prepare for other feats in the past, including half-marathons. “I enjoy this event the best, though. You really have a sense of camaraderie with biking. You’re going as a group, and it’s tougher to stay together and even talk when you’re running. It should be a really fun time for everyone.”
For more information about the Bike MS: Bike to the Bay ride, including registration information, course details or donation options, call (800) FIGHTMS, or visit www.biketothebay.org or www.msdelaware.org.