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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2003

Wheels turn to beat MS

Some riders still may be sore in their lower extremities from last weekend's Bike-To-The-Bay bicycling benefit, but temporary discomfort is of little consequence compared with the day-to-day ordeal for victims of multiple sclerosis.

Bike-To-The-Bay is the premier annual fund-raising event for the Northwestern Ohio Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. More than 850 cyclists registered for the tour from the Lucas County fairgrounds to Port Clinton on Saturday and back on Sunday.

Riders ranging from neophytes to aficionados applied their stamina and endurance to courses of 50, 75, or - for the real iron men and women - 100 miles, wending their way along mostly rural roads through Lucas, Wood, Sandusky, and Ottawa counties.

The sponsor is hoping to beat last year's total of $345,000 in donations. Dry sunny weather, graced by a general lack of punishing headwinds, ensured that virtually everyone who signed up showed up to raise money to help defeat this devastating disease.

The big key to the success of the northwest Ohio event was efficient organization, managed with the help of dozens of generous commercial sponsors and some 350 hard-working volunteers.

Rest stops provided food, water, and energy snacks along the route. Air National Guard personnel handled the complex logistics of transporting bicycles and riders' luggage. Ambulances and emergency medical workers tended to the mostly minor bumps and scrapes that inevitably accompany squadrons of avid cyclists. Area bike shops did repairs.

The grounds of Port Clinton High School, the tour's turn-around point, were turned into a campground, complete with dinner, showers, and breakfast for many cyclists.

Keeping the whole event secure were dozens of sheriff's deputies from the four counties, aided by volunteer motorcyclists and “sag wagon” crews, who manned intersections and cruised the route to keep riders safe and on course.

Bike-To-The-Bay is not a competition for cash or trophies, only the satisfaction gained from meeting a personal challenge and, hopefully, helping to beat a merciless disease. Aching muscles and saddle sores are a small price to pay.

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