by Rick Conti
Every spring, as casual cyclists like myself are just pulling our bikes out of winter storage, a bike ride of distinction is held on Martha’s Vineyard. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society kicks off a busy fund-raising year with “Ride the Vineyard” on May 5, 2012.
There are three routes available from a relaxing 25K around the state forest to a decidedly more adventurous metric century around the island. All are fun. All are worthwhile. It’s a cliché to say that they are for a worthy cause, but clichés become so for a reason. The effort to solve the riddle of MS is a worthy but torturous cause. Every mile ridden brings us closer to that solution.
With an estimated 400,000 victims in the US and 2.5 million worldwide, MS is one of the most difficult of all conditions to deal with, either as a victim, a medical professional, or a researcher. The cause is unknown. A cure is non-existent. The treatments are painful yet often ineffectual. There are dozens of symptoms from the annoying to the completely disabling. A victim may suffer one or many of them. There is no “typical” progression. It generally strikes people in the prime of life, although even children can develop MS.
The greatest hope for people with MS is in research for the future and support for today. Those are the beneficiaries of the funds raised during this and the other MS Society events.
I’ve personally made the ride several times, sometimes with family and friends, sometimes alone, once with a team. It has always been rewarding. In spite of the fact that weather on the Vineyard in early spring is dicey, only one year were the conditions less than ideal. That year it was a nightmare: cold, windy, and rainy. The cyclist’s perfect storm. Yet we had a great time just the same. There is a camaraderie on this ride born of a shared vision for an MS-free future.
Let’s face it. Riding a bike on the Vineyard is always an enjoyable experience. Doing something more with that ride only enhances the experience. Check out the “Ride the Vineyard” site to see about how you can be a part of it. Your help is needed and appreciated by all who suffer from MS.
For more information about MS and the ride, visit the National MS Society on the web.