When Sue Whittaker laces up for the MS Bike Cowichan Valley Experience Aug. 11 and 12, it will be her 22nd year putting pedal to pavement for multiple sclerosis.
Sue’s first MS Bike Okanagan in 1996 came shortly after her own diagnosis with the disease. In 2002, she rode with one-year-old son Kirk in a bike trailer behind her; a few years later, at 7, he joined his mom on his own bike. The two have participated together virtually every year since, underscoring the camaraderie the ride provides, beyond riders’ personal achievements and the financial contribution it makes to the quest for a cure.
“The MS Bike is the happiest, happiest event you will ever participate in. I can’t explain it – you have to experience it,” reflects Sue, who moved with her family to the Cowichan Valley seven years ago, joining a great group of friends on Team Whoop de Woo.
The MS Bike Cowichan Valley Experience
The fully-assisted, two-day MS Bike Cowichan Valley Experience follows rural country roads to award-winning wineries, a local cidery and distillery, picturesque farms, markets, coffee houses, historic landmarks and more. “It really showcases the community,” Sue says.
Riders choose from several routes and ride lengths, based on their own interests and abilities. “You can do as much or as little as you want and are able to. It’s just a really fun thing to do and MS is a great reason to ride.”
Camp Pringle on Shawnigan Lake is your base for the weekend and riders can choose from a variety of accommodation options when registering.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, with an estimated 1 in 340 Canadians living with the disease. While most often diagnosed in young adults aged 15 to 40, MS also affects younger children and older adults.
An unpredictable autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves. Symptoms are varied and include extreme fatigue, lack of co-ordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes. Currently there is no cure.
Part of North America’s largest fundraising cycling series, MS Bike offers riders the opportunity to join a vast collective effort to help improve the lives of Canadians affected by MS. Money raised is invested in world-leading MS research right here in Canada that will bring us closer than ever to the first treatment for progressive MS and ultimately a cure for the disease.
Cyclists can register as a team or an individual – just $70, plus a commitment of at least $350 in fundraising. And while cyclists don’t do it for the rewards, there’s lots of fundraising ‘thank-yous’ too! Donations are also welcome: Learn more at MSBike.ca