On Saturday, Oct. 1, more than 1,500 cyclists will embark on the Valero Ride to the River, an annual bike ride that raises money for multiple sclerosis (MS) research through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).

For the past 26 years, the two-day, 159-mile ride through scenic South Texas and the Hill Country has drawn cyclists of all ages to participate in one of the biggest such rides in the country. While online registration for this year’s ride is now closed, it’s not too late to sign up. Interested participants must be at least 12 years old and can still register or pick up a packet Friday, Sept. 30 from 5-8 p.m. at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade.

There’s a $50 registration fee and a $300 fundraising minimum.

Cynthia Rodriguez, NMSS regional director of development, has helped organize the event for the past nine years. She told the Rivard Report that the most exciting part of it all is watching the event grow year after year.

“I started with the organization nine years ago and it’s just so exciting to move the mission forward,” Rodriguez said. “We couldn’t have done it without a large committee who plans it year-round and over 800 volunteers. There’s so much community support.”

Saturday’s cyclists will depart from the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex at 8 a.m. and have until 6 p.m. to arrive at the Comal County Fairgrounds in New Braunfels. The next day, cyclists can choose a few routes to follow that take them through the roads west of New Braunfels and back again to the fairgrounds.

There are frequent stops along the routes at fully-stocked rest areas every 10-12 miles and a lunch stop each day of the ride.

Click here for maps of the potential routes for Day 1 and Day 2.

With the ride just around the corner, participants have already raised more than $1 million of the $1.5 million goal. Grocery giant H-E-B is the top fundraiser with 275 riders raising more than $200,000. The top five fundraisers are:

  • Team H-E-B – $217,953.50
  • Team Wingman – $119,477.58
  • Team Left Hand – 79,588.16
  • Velo Valero – $73, 634.80
  • Team EOG – $72,419.76

Out of 100 fundraising rides of its kind in the country, the Valero Ride to the River is in the top 20 in terms of fundraising, Rodriguez said.

“We go from San Antonio to Lavernia, Seguin, and New Braunfels, with an additional challenge to ride to Gruene,” she said. “We get so much amazing community support from these cities. The more teamwork we have, the more we can do to work towards a cure for MS.”


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

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James McCandless

Former intern James McCandless is a recent St. Mary's University graduate. He has worked with the San Antonio Current and Texas Public Radio.