More than 600 cyclists are preparing to embark on a two-day 180-kilometre ride from Airdrie to Olds and back in support of those impacted by multiple sclerosis (MS). This year’s ride marks the 25th anniversary of the MS Bike Ride in the area – the fourth-largest ride held by the MS Society across the country.
“Many of the cyclists that ride in the tour have been affected by the disease and they're joining us to cycle for the cause,” said Paula Miller, fund development manager with the MS Society of Canada.
Participating cyclists will come together to not only accomplish their personal wellness goals, she said, but to raise money and awareness in the fight against MS.
“It's such an amazing experience and an amazing feeling when people gather their teams at the start line,” Miller said. “They're all starting this journey together for a really great cause.”
MS is a disease that has a huge impact in Canada, she said, which is why so many people show their support for the ride.
“We have one of the highest rates of MS in the world and approximately one in every 385 Canadians lives with MS,” Miller said. “It’s not only the people that are living with MS, but it's their caretakers, their families and their friends – everybody's in this together and hoping to find relief.”
Participants must raise a minimum of $350 and pay applicable registration fees to join. The money raised goes toward both national and local MS initiatives, according to Miller.
“A lot of the money that is fundraised will be directed towards MS research – some of which is actually happening in Calgary,” she said. “We've been able to find out a lot about the disease, but we have a long way to go to figure out exactly what causes it, how we can stop it and make life better for people that live with MS.”
The ride takes place over two days, with riders departing from Airdrie and arriving in Olds June 22, before heading back into Airdrie June 23.
Cyclists will meet in Airdrie at the TransCanada Turbines, located at 998 Hamilton Blvd. N.E. June 22, and will be stopping overnight at Olds College. Participants can book a dorm room or arrange local accommodations at a hotel or camping spot.
The ride includes rest stops along the way, which are stocked with food and beverages for the participants. On Saturday evening in Olds, a celebration will include the Troubled Monk beer garden, live entertainment and more activities for riders. The MS Society encourages participants to invite friends, family and supporters to help cheer the cyclists on.
As well, The Bike Shop will provide support throughout the weekend for riders having mechanical issues along the route. The tour is equipped with transportation, mechanical and first-aid support, Miller added.
Anyone aged 10 and up, of any ability, is encouraged to register online or in-person prior to the event at msbike.ca