After years of riding through farmlands in and around DeKalb, Bike MS has moved it’s annual fundraising event to the east.
But the new start and finish in St. Charles for the annual Bike MS: Tour De Farms, which takes place June 23-24, doesn’t mean DeKalb is forgotten.
Three of seven fundraising bicycle rides reach DeKalb County before a turn back to the Fox River Valley.
Seven different rides start at the Kane County Fairgrounds. Participants can choose to ride individually or as a team with a fundraising minimum of $300 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for research, programs and education.
Valerie Brod, Bike MS senior development manager, is excited for the change, but thankful for the great years the ride had in DeKalb. The change came as an effort to attract more people to the event after hearing from participants that being a little bit closer to Chicago would help.
While there is still plenty of space to bike along the new routes, there will be some new scenery for returning riders.
“In the past a lot of our route has been very open, farmland roads. People will still get out on some of those roads again this year, but I think they’re going to see a lot more neighborhoods and just a lot more to look at versus just an open field,” Brod said.
This ride is friendly to any participant regardless of biking experience. There are different routes to choose from, allowing the rider to customize their experience and distance.
“It’s really a ride where somebody can choose to ride 35 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles or a 100 miles on Saturday and additionally on Sunday, if they choose, they can ride 35, 50 or 75 miles. So, over the course of the weekend somebody could ride up to 175 miles,” Brod said.
Riders under 12 are not permitted and youths between the ages of 12-17 on main rides must be accompanied by someone a8 years or older.
Kids who stay at the fairgrounds will have plenty of activities to choose from, including local animals, games, a tie-dye shirt station and more.
Of the biking participants and volunteers, there are several who are living with MS or know someone with it. The disease affects over 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National MS Society.
“We definitely have people who live with MS who ride. We actually have what we call a “I ride with MS” program where people who live with MS who want the special jersey that they can wear while they’re riding. It’s their choice if they want to partake in that program, but that jersey is free to them.” Brod said.
According to Brod, there will be at least 1,200 cyclists, over 300 volunteers and plenty of family, friends and loved ones there to cheer them on along the routes.
She said the rides can be an “emotional experience” for a lot of the cyclists.
“We want people to come out and cheer on our cyclists… you’ll find people out there holding up signs saying ‘thanks for riding for me’ or ‘thanks for riding for my mom’ or whoever is special to them living with MS,” Brod said.
With over 130 teams participating, this event will surely make its mark on St. Charles and bring awareness to a community that they hope to call home to the ride for years to come.
“I’m inspired by the people who are living with MS and what they are able to achieve every day in their life when obstacles and things are harder for them because of their disease, so many of them just fight it, push through it and persevere. They don’t let it knock them down, they don’t let it overtake them. It is so inspiring,” Brod said.
Bike MS is still looking for volunteers to work the weekend at Tour De Farms. For information on how to volunteer, to sign up to race or donate, visit the nationalmssociety.org.
—New start and scenery as annual Bike MS moves east to St. Charles–