For our third installment, given that the BikeMS Roundup Ride takes off from Dr Pepper Ballpark on Saturday, its only appropriate to look back at how the BikeMS rides began and how the one in Frisco has fared over the years. Although some have the opinion that there is no tie between the cyclists that do the MS150 events and the efforts to get more people permanently on the bike, there is no question that at least some of the hundreds of thousands that ride the MS benefit events across the nation each year continue riding their bikes long after. I myself had owned my first road bike only two weeks before doing the Bike to the Beach ride (San Antonio to Corpus Christi) - and I'm still rolling 9 years later!
BikeMS first ride 1980 in Minnesota drew 200 cyclists and raised over $33,000. According to the BikeMS website, there are now over 100 rides held across the country each year and, since their inception, have raised over $600 million. These are now the largest organized charity bicycling event in the United States.
The local ride is of particular interest to us in North Texas as the ride has been hosted in either north Plano or Frisco since its inception. The routes have changed over the years, as have the primary sponsors and the name, but the fun, challenge and the cause have never waivered. This ride is organized and hosted by the MS Lonestar Chapter of the National MS Society. This group does a fantastic job, considering the challenges of North Texas spring weather and unpredictable temperatures, winds and occasional storms. This is often called the best run MS ride in the country, for good reason.
Red River Challenge
Originally known as the MS150 Red River Challenge, the ride began at sunrise at the Frito-Lay headquarters in Plano, moving to Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco in 2004. Day 1, cyclists followed a route through North Texas flowing directly north to the overnight stop at Lake Texoma. On Day 2, cyclists would go after the hills in southern Oklahoma and finish at Noble Stadium in Ardmore, OK. This proved to be a very challenging course, especially in 2004. That year rain, a strong north wind and cold temperatures took a toll on even the best of cyclists. Just ask some of the crew that helped with SAG that year, including Frisco's Mayor Maso, just how difficult Mother Nature can be.
Sams Club Frisco to Fort Worth
In 2006, the routes for this ride changed dramatically and the start moved to Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. The day one route, as it is today, wound through North Texas and looped back to the Texas Motor Speedway. This proved to be a popular overnight stopping point to prepare for challenging Day 2, although I can say from experience how deceiving the approach to the Speedway can be. You can see the facility from several miles away and think you're "almost there" - it's three miles to the finish from the time you turn up the lane. But everyone loves this.
The overnight stay at the Speedway has become a major event with teams providing food, entertainment and the camaraderie of the cyclists is overwhelming. The highlights of the ride from 2005-2011 were focused on that second day - a loop around the speedway, climbing hills around Eagle Lake and finishing with a "Tour de France" funnel of fans in Sundance Square Fort Worth - and we can't forget that final, hurtful climb to the finish. This route remained until 2012, when Day 2 was changed to both begin and end at the Speedway.
This ride has always been very well attended. From an initial count of around 1,000 participants, it has increased to the current 2,000-3,000 and receives wonderful support from the local communities. The best way to do this is treat it as a fun weekend out, not a race. Stop at some of the rest stops, thank them for their support and chat - as with anything else on the bike, you never know when you'll make a new friend! Feel free to share your stories here - you might just convince someone new to ride with you next year.
Many teams, fantastic organization, support and lots of fun are wrapped in raising funds for to fight a horrible affliction - and we have this event right here in North Texas EVERY YEAR! If you haven't done it yet, or if you're a long time veteran - participate. Takes off this Saturday morning.
Be safe, have fun and consider why you ride!
Multiple sclerosis (MS) usually strikes adults in the prime of life – between the ages of 20 and 50. It is a chronic disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord. One new case of MS is diagnosed every hour. It comes and goes unpredictably, leaving people to wonder, “Will I become paralyzed, blind or have trouble walking? Will I be able to raise my family and continue my career?”