Red faced and sweating, Janine Leupold leaned on her bicycle, took off her shoes and rubbed her feet. Her husband Jim tiredly looked on. The Erie residents had just finished riding 75 miles under the 95-degree Colorado sun.
â€œI ride because my sister canâ€™t,â€ Leupold said.
Her sister suffers from multiple sclerosis.
The Leupolds were just two of some 3,000 bicycle riders who cycled nearly 150 miles of Northern Coloradoâ€™s back roads last weekend to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
They have been riding with Team Sugar Bees for five years. The team has 142 members and has raised $1 million.
â€œWe both like to ride,â€ Leupold said. â€œThis is a great route. The snacks are good too,â€ she laughed.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, The Great-West Life Bike MS, Coloradoâ€™s Ride 2010 base camped on campus. The two-day ride benefited the Colorado Chapter of the National MS Society and the 76,000 Coloradans affected by multiple sclerosis.
â€œWe started with 20 teams 25 years ago, and now there are 198,â€ said Susan Burke, director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships for the Society. â€œThis is incredible.â€
The ride began at Front Range Community College in Westminster at 6 a.m. Saturday and wound 75 miles through Longmont, through Masonville and over Horsetooth Reservoir ending at Team Village set up at CSU.
Hundreds of white tents graced the West Lawn of campus. Each team decorated their tents with signs, jerseys used in previous rides and pictures of team members that have taken part in the event over the years.
Bands were playing, riders were getting massages and vendors gave away energy drinks and protein shakes, among other freebies.
Longmontâ€™s Left Hand Brewing Company, the eventâ€™s official beer sponsor, donated 40 kegs of beer and kept it flowing for the riders as they rolled over the finish line.
â€œWe have a few members of our beer club that have MS. Some of our employees have relatives affected by the disease as well,â€ said Aly Dratch, the breweryâ€™s director of Marketing and Design.
â€œThatâ€™s why we became involved as riders a few years ago, but this year we wanted to step up our support. It took months of planning, but itâ€™s so worth it.â€
Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system by disrupting the flow of information from the brain to the body. Symptoms vary from person to person and include fatigue, dizziness, tremors, visual impairment and balance issues.
The MS Society raises funds to provide programs and services to MS patients and their families such as care management, group support and advocacy.
Burke said CSU is a favorite venue for participants of the event.
â€œWe have dorms and showers here. The campus is nice, and the route is ideal,â€ she said.
People from all over the country participated, and just about every city in Colorado was represented. Some said it felt like a family reunion.
â€œI run an interior design business, and it was shocking to me to find out how many of my clients and suppliers had MS,â€ said Rita Coltrane, a Castle Rock resident and CSU alumna.
Coltrane is one 190 members of Team Raw Hinies, which has raised more than $600,000 for the MS Society.
â€œI became interested in raising money for the cause because so many people I knew were affected by it,â€ Coltrane said.
Many participants have a family member or a close friend who is affected by MS and would like nothing more than to see a cure for it. The ride is especially symbolic to them as many with MS are unable to ride themselves.
â€œIâ€™m thankful to be able to do this,â€ Coltrane said. â€œItâ€™s a privilege.â€
Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.