The National Multiple Sclerosis Hawaii Division’s fifth annual Bike MS: Go Big or Go Home event will take place Saturday and Sunday in Waikoloa.
“It is all about MS,” said Candice Lynch Schwalbach, Hawaii division manager of the National MS society. “For people who don’t know about it, they just see people walking around with the disease and don’t know what it is. We are trying to raise awareness about the disease and the daily struggles people go through.”
The weekend’s ride takes place on 115 miles of the Ironman World Championship bike route.
Organizers expect around 150 riders, including many who have participated before. “People love our ride,” Lynch Schwalbach said. “It’s warm, and sometimes the wind can get them, but people just love it. It’s unlike any other ride.”
Following a light breakfast and brake check, the two-day event kicks off from Anaehoomalu Bay in Waikoloa and takes riders 65 miles north to Kapaau.
The tour picks up early Sunday morning with a 50-mile ride south, ending at Vitamin Shoppe in Kailua-Kona.
Support and gear vehicles will trail the bikers, and there will be fully catered rest stops every 7 to 10 miles.
“You don’t have to be an experienced rider,” Lynch Schwalbach said. “We have had plenty of people hop on a bike the day of the event and make the trek.”
MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
Symptoms range from mild, such as numbness in the limbs, to severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The disease affects women more than men and those affected are most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
There is currently no cure for MS, only therapies to control symptoms and slow progression of the disease.
“We have about 800 families in Hawaii dealing with MS that we know and we provide support to,” Lynch Schwalbach said. “It’s not just the person who lives with MS, it’s the whole family supporting that person, too. This event is all about bringing awareness to the disease, and that awareness will eventually lead to a cure.”
Riders must be at least 16 years old, with a chaperone; anyone over 18 can enjoy the ride unaccompanied. To register or for more information, visit bikemshawaii.org or call 532-0806.