“It’s more than a ride – it’s Bike MS.”
A series of cycling events that take place across the nation, Bike MS is designed with the intention of raising funds for the National MS Society, an organization involved with research for Multiple Sclerosis.
While “It’s more than a ride” is the slogan behind the Bike MS organization, it is also a direct quote from Beloit College head athletic trainer Andrew Wier, who is a Bike MS participant.
Wier has been riding in Bike MS events since 2010 and regularly attends the Tour de Farms ride based out of DeKalb, Ill. Hosted by the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National MS Society, the Tour de Farms includes two days of rides at varying distances.
“(The event) is on a Saturday and Sunday, and each day you choose between the distances they have,” says Wier. “On Saturday, you can choose 25, 50, 75, 100, or 125 miles. Then on Sunday it’s 35 or 75 miles.” Beginning on the NIU campus, this event also offers beautiful scenery throughout the countryside of northern Illinois.
A distinguishing characteristic of these biking events is that there is a greater motivation for participants beyond the physical benefits.
“For me personally, it’s nice to have a goal that keeps me motivated to stay on my bike and stay healthy−and at the same time it’s not just about me being on my bike. I get to donate some of my time and resources for an important cause,” says Wier.
One of the requirements for these events is that anyone interested must do a minimal amount of fundraising (determined by the individual ride) in order to participate.
“Each of the rides I was at raised over $1 million dollars in one weekend,” Wier says. “It was usually between $1.3 and 1.7 million a piece.”
Wier also has a personal connection that sparked his initial interest in the cause.
“My sister-in-law has a brother who was diagnosed with MS, so they were starting to do rides in New Mexico, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Later they found one in Illinois and invited me to come along with them,” says Wier. “At the actual event, there are some professional teams there…and there are groups of people who just show up like our family. It’s amazing to see all the different tents and teams.”
Whether you are a seasoned racer or just occasionally take a ride down the river, Wier encourages anyone interested to get involved.
“The support that the MS society provides makes that ride one of the most moving experiences in terms of the charitable events I’ve done. Along the way, they have different rest areas, and you can stop and talk to quite literally thousands of people that are on the ride with you that day,” says Wier. “It’s encouraging and inspiring, but it’s difficult to put into words until you’ve been in an event like that.”
For more information on Bike MS, visit www.bikems.org.