Bike MS: Tour de Farms, the annual charity bike ride of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter, is less than two weeks away. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22, at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Ill. Bike MS, which is the largest charity bike ride in Illinois, begins and ends at the NIU Convocation Center (1525 W. Lincoln Hwy.), bringing together riders of all skill levels for an unforgettable weekend of cycling, fun, camaraderie and achievement.
Riders can choose their challenge and bike anywhere from 15–200 miles through the two-day event on 10 fully supported routes, taking them over rolling hills and through the scenic farmlands of Northern Illinois. Twenty support-and-gear vehicles stocked with first aid and repair supplies will continuously patrol the routes throughout the day, and riders will be further supported with rest stops every 10–15 miles.
“Even though this will only be our third year, the Tour de Farms has become a nice tradition,” said Allen Joffe, who participates in Bike MS with his teenage son, Brandon. “It’s such a great cause, and the ride gives us time to talk, catch up on upcoming events, and see some nice scenery. It is so great to complete the ride and have a crowd cheer you to the finish line, and your fellow riders are so friendly and helpful that it feels as though you have 2,300 family members. Everyone you pass on the ride and at the event says hello; I’ve never been somewhere like that.”
Again this year, children 11 years and under can participate in a special Bike MS course exclusively for junior riders on Saturday, June 21, at 3:30 p.m. All children must be accompanied by an adult, and a $15 registration fee is required.
In addition to the actual ride, participants and volunteers will refuel with delicious meals, revel in the sounds of live music, and enjoy a more relaxing form of drafting in the beer garden outside the Convocation Center. Saturday’s festivities include musical entertainment from local bands playing throughout the day and evening and an awards ceremony at 5 p.m.
“Bike MS offers an opportunity to accept the challenge of a great ride while raising funds for people living with MS,” said Greater Illinois Chapter President and Bike MS participant, John Blazek. “With thousands of participants, this is one of our largest events of the year, and we’re encouraged by so many people coming together to join the movement to end MS.”
This year, Genzyme, a Sanofi Company, is sponsoring I Ride with MS, a mission-based program that celebrates participating cyclists who are living with MS through MS One to One. Through the program, cyclists who are living with MS are provided a special “I Ride with MS” jersey. By providing visibility to riders living with MS, the program personalizes the disease and more strongly connects all cyclists, serving as a reminder of why they participate in Bike MS.
Participants can pick up their rider packets and set up for the event during the Bike MS Kickoff from 6–8 p.m. on Friday, June 20. Rider registration opens at 5 a.m. each day of the actual event, and the mass start takes place at 7 a.m. The registration fee is $55 until the end of the event. Every rider is required to raise a minimum of $300 to participate.
Last year more than 2,300 riders participated in Bike MS: Tour de Farms, raising over $1.6 million to fund MS research, programs and services. The Illinois Bike MS event is one of over 100 rides that happen across the U.S. to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Collectively, the rides raise close to $90 million annually with over 100,000 cyclists.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. The Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.3 million worldwide affected by MS.
To find out more or to register or make a donation, contact Melissa Foley at 312.423.1140 or at Melissa.email@example.com, or visit bikeMSillinois.org.