In celebration of the 25th Anniversary ride, Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River, taking place October 11-12, will feature new mileage route options for the annual fundraising event supporting multiple sclerosis.

“It is our goal to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for all our participants and fundraisers,” said National MS Society Development Director Cynthia Rodriguez. “By offering multiple route options and unique scenery, the Ride to the River attracts cyclists from experienced to novice.”

The journey from San Antonio to New Braunfels will take cyclists through rolling ranchlands, flourishing farmsteads, the tree-lined Guadalupe River and carved canyons in the Texas Hill country.

Day One

Cyclists choosing the Ranch Wrangle route will start at Wheatley Heights Sports Complex on the city’s Eastside, and ride 71 miles to Comal County Fairgrounds in New Braunfels or opt to do the Bronc Buster 100-mile century route that features the scenic River Road extension.

The pre-dawn sea of bikes at the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex was impressive. More than 1,100 riders started this year’s Bike MS: Valero 2013 Ride to the River. Photo by David Rangel.
The pre-dawn sea of bikes at the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex in 2013 was impressive. More than 1,100 riders started the Bike MS: Valero 2013 Ride to the River, sponsored by H-E-B. Photo by David Rangel.

For a shorter and more leisurely experience, cyclists can start from the Lunch Stop at Vogel Elementary School in  Seguin and choose the 56-mile Harvest Hustle, or the 27-mile Southern Saunter route that lead to the overnight celebration at the Comal County Fairgrounds in New Braunfels.

Day Two

Cyclists can choose from the new routes based on personal goals and comfort levels as they ride an out-and-back course to the finish line at Comal County Fairgrounds. Those seeking a challenge can opt for the Arrowhead Ascent, 59 miles of rolling hills through carved canyons in the Texas Hill country, or the 39-mile Bear Creek Climb.

The 32-mile River Road Classic is perfect for the novice cyclist or those seeking a shorter, scenic route that meanders along the shady, tree-lined Guadalupe River. Registered cyclists who choose not to ride on the second day will receive complimentary transportation from New Braunfels to San Antonio for themselves and their bicycles.

Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River raises funds and awareness to support programs and services that directly impact people affected by multiple sclerosis in addition to funding MS research.

Team Captain for Team NB and top fundraiser, Robert Eccleston, reflects back on his many years riding and fundraising in the event.

“I have participated in this event since 2003, and continue to do so because in my experience it is the best supported and thought-out ride in South Texas,” Eccleston said.

Top fundraisers Team Velo Valero keeping a smooth pace and working together during the 2013 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River. Photo by David Rangel.
Top fundraisers Team Velo Valero keep a smooth pace and work together during the 2013 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River. Photo by David Rangel.

The event features frequent rest stops, medical personnel, police support, bike mechanics, meals, supplies and wonderful volunteers.

“The route isn’t stagnant like some other events. Instead, organizers listen to the feedback of participants and add something a little different each year with various options for distance, difficulty and beauty,” Eccleston said. “My entire team works hard each year to train and fundraise because we enjoy being a part of such a great event.”

To register as a team or individual, and to learn more about the new route and features go to bikeMStexas.org. Registration is currently $35, and will increase to $50 on July 1. Additionally, all registered cyclists are required to meet the minimum fundraising commitment of $300 prior to picking up their rider packet.

The 2013 Bike MS: Valero Bike to the River. Photo by David Rangel
The 2013 Bike MS: Valero Bike to the River. Photo by David Rangel

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS.

Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million worldwide.

The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives.

In 2012 alone, the Society invested $43 million to support more than 350 new and ongoing research projects around the world while providing programs and services to more than one million individuals affected by multiple sclerosis. The National MS Society serves more than 68,000 Texans affected by multiple sclerosis, including more than 22,000 diagnosed with the disease.

*Featured/top image: Team America, comprised mainly of wounded warriors and their friends or fellow serviceman, traditionally lead the riders from the start line of the Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River. Photo by David Rangel.

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Breann Morris

Breann Morris is the regional coordinator for communications for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.