Multiple Sclerosis Society hits the road for funds
More than 100 bicyclists lined up at the starting line at a local ski resort early Saturday and Sunday, ready to ride up to 140 miles along the shores of the Tahoe Truckee area’s two biggest lakes.
Both days of the weekend event began and ended at the Village at Northstar.
On Saturday, the riders headed south along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe to Emerald Bay, before returning to Northstar on the 75-mile loop. Diehard bicyclists could opt to add a 15-mile, uphill detour on Barker Pass Road to the day’s mileage.
Sunday’s ride was a 50-miler along the shores of Donner Lake before climbing to a breathtaking overlook along Donner Pass Road on the way to Emigrant Gap.
Dani Lutzow, program coordinator for the Great Basin Sierra Division of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said the event attracted 110 to 115 bike riders. With volunteers and paid staff, nearly 200 people participated.
Lutzow said the riders goal was to raise $100,000, to achieve the society’s goal for the Great Basin Sierra MS Bike Ride at Lake Tahoe. Donors have an Oct. 15 deadline to honor the pledges.
The second annual event attracted participants from Northern California and Nevada, although a handful of riders came from as far away as Illinois and the East Coast, according to Lutzow.
He added that the resort is negotiating with the Multiple Sclerosis Society for a five-year contract to continue hosting the event. The resort is also looking into building a custom mountain bike course for next year’s Multiple Sclerosis ride.
“This ride is not competitive at all and it’s a really fun event,” Lutzow said. “The cyclists loved the route. There was a three-person bike with a family riding that was really cute.”
The event was catered by Reno’s Outback Steakhouse.
The Great Basin Division of the society recruited Reno news anchorman Pat Hambright of KOLO News Channel 8, an avid bicyclist, to ride and participate in other responsibilities.
“The ride was intimate in comparison” to larger events, Hambright said Monday.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has 50 state chapters and works to fund research and provide services and advocacy for people who suffer from the neurological disease. According to the organization’s Web site, “The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS.”
Multiple Sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Autoimmune diseases causes the immune system to respond against its own cells and tissues. In the case of multiple sclerosis, a fatty tissue that protects nerve fibers is lost leaving scar tissue called sclerosis. When the protective coating is lost nerves lose their ability to conduct electrical impulses.
Symptoms of the disease are unpredictable and vary from person to person. Some might experience abnormal fatigue, while others might have severe problems with their vision.
According to the society’s Web site, about 400,000 Americans are known to have the disease, with about 200 new cases diagnosed every week.
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