News Local

Cyclists Fight MS 0

By Brian Vossen, Pincher Creek Echo

Cycling enthusiast from all walks of life came together to make a difference in the lives of over 11,000 Albertans, June 13 and 14 during the 20th annual Leduc to Camrose MS Bike Tour.

About 1,500 cyclists participated in the event, which raised over $1.5 million for the MS Society of Canada.

Reasons for getting involved in the bike tour vary greatly among cyclists. Many joined because they knew someone living with MS, or they have the disease themselves. Others said they did it to have a good time and meet new people. Still others were just looking for a good bike ride.

Henny Lamers has par-ticipated in the tour five times, but this year was his first year back after an eight-year break. He said he got involved because cycling is a hobby of his and he was looking for a more organized ride.

Lamers said it is more enjoyable to ride when there are other cyclists on the road. He thinks the MS Bike Tour is a good cause to support as well.

"If you are going to pay to join anything, you might as well do it for a good cause," he said.

Janice Owens began doing the tour six years ago because her aunt has MS and this past August, Owens herself was diagnosed with the disease. This year many friends and family members, including her son Matthew, joined her.

At 12 years old, Matthew and his friends Austin Kulak, Jordan Arthur, and 13-year-old Wyatt Stefuro were doubtlessly some of the youngest bikers on the tour. The boys said they trained for about four months to take on the 185-kilometre ride.

The equipment used in the tour is another aspect that varies greatly. Owens, as well as the rest her teammates, rode lightweight, multi-gear touring bikes. Many other cyclists used similar bikes, but others preferred something a little more old fashioned.

Phil Riley, along with teammate Lois Maunder, both rode one-speed bikes. Riley's bike is a 50's model with CCM 1937 wheels. Riley said he purchased the bike several years ago from an auction and rides it every day. He said the bike still has most of it's original parts, except for the tires, which he has had to replace a few times and the bike chain, which he got from a garage door opener.

Lamers, Owens and Riley all said that the Leduc to Camrose bike tour is always very well run and organized. Lamers also mentioned that the tour has no limits on fundraising. He said that some bike tour fundraisers require participants to raise a certain amount of money before they can participate.

On June 13, cyclists made their way from Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers in Nisku to Wetaskiwin, where a lunch stop was set up for the hard-working cyclists.

From Wetaskiwin, cyclists continued on to Camrose where they stopped for the night before making their way back to Nisku the following day.

After reaching the Camrose finish line on the first day of the bike tour, cyclists were treated to beer gardens, a banquet and a dance. A short program was held before the dance.