About 1,200 cyclists from throughout Utah and Idaho will ride together on June 22 and June 23, seeking to raise $1.2 million to help people afflicted with multiple sclerosis.
The tour, called Bike MS: Harmons Best Dam Bike Ride 2019, will start at the Cache County Fairgrounds in Logan. Cyclists will have the option of turning around at any of several rest and aid stops along the way. Tour lengths will range from 25 to 100 miles on June 22 and 25 to 50 miles on June 23, following different courses.
The longest course will cross into Idaho via county roads and turn around in Dayton. Participants will have the option of riding on either one day or both days.
In its 13th year, the tour is one of 70 rides organized throughout the country to support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Megan O’Neal, a spokeswoman with the nonprofit organization, explained MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body.
In February, the National Multiple Sclerosis society released findings of a study finding 1 million U.S. people have the disease, which was more than double the previous estimate of the disease’s prevalence.
Geoff Linville, Bike MS manager, said the full Utah and Idaho course gains 1,800 feet of elevation, and the event is not competitive or timed. He said a special group of riders who have MS, called I Ride with MS, participates every year, wearing custom jerseys.
“Many do the full length,” Linville said. “It’s amazing watching them cross the finish line.”
This year’s ride will be dedicated to Frank Roskelley, a cyclist with MS who recently died and participated in all of the previous Logan rides.
Linville said there’s been an increasing number of Idaho teams in the event. One Idaho team is in its eighth year, and its members have raised more than $250,000 combined to fight MS. Team co-captain Greg Goins, of Boise, has personally raised $35,000 for the cause.
Goins is an avid cyclist who logs about 5,000 miles on his bike per year. Goins said two of his team members have MS. One of them participates in a hand-propelled tricycle.
“These people are inspirations — their spirit, their attitude, their desire to continue to do the things they love to do,” Goins said.
Linville said Idaho has three annual walks to benefit MS. An April 14 walk in Boise raised $123,000 toward a $125,000 goal, with donations still coming in. MS walks are also scheduled for Sept. 7 in Twin Falls and Sept. 21 in Wood River.
O’Neal said 74 percent of people who have MS are women, and most people are diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 20 and 50. Furthermore, she said there appears to be a correlation between the prevalence of the disease and distance from the equator, possibly because the disease may be tied to exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D production.
O’Neal said the disease may be widely under-diagnosed because people who have it may exhibit differing symptoms. Symptoms may include double vision, imbalance and tingling or numbness of extremities, she said.
O’Neal said her mother has MS, and it took two years of visiting doctors until an MRI finally showed tell-tale lesions on the brain, and a spinal tap ruled out causes other than MS.
To sign up for the event or to make a contribution, visit https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/UTUBike Events?pg=entry&fr_id=30194.