The fundraising event Bike MS is going to have to change its venue. The construction on U.S Highway 212 cut the trail where the usual track would run. luckily they have found a new venue to make it all come together in Bozeman. Read more here.
After nearly two decades, an annual tradition is coming to an end as Bike MS moves its two-day fundraiser from the Beartooths to Bozeman.
The event, scheduled for Aug. 16-17, is being moved primarily because the main route of the event, U.S. Highway 212, will be under construction.
Additionally, the 80-mile ride from Billings to Red Lodge is peppered with rumble strips and littered with debris. It also features narrow shoulders and is home to heavy RV traffic and fast-moving cars.
“Our No. 1 concern is safety,” said Bob Copeland, manager of the ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Northwest Chapter. “The construction would absolutely hinder us from a safe ride.”
The purpose of the ride is twofold: heighten awareness of multiple sclerosis and raise money for research, programs and services. The event generated more than $147,000 in 2011; more than $119,000 in 2012; and nearly $122,000 in 2013.
The National MS Society invested $47.6 million for more than 350 research projects in 2013.
The move to Bozeman comes at a time when participation has waned in recent years. Last year, 141 riders participated in the event, down from 168 in 2012 and 226 in 2011.
Copeland acknowledges that making a venue change is challenging, especially given that 62 percent of last year’s participants live in Billings and many of the event sponsors are based in Billings. But, Copeland said, he hopes relocating the event to a “cycling friendly” community will reinvigorate the event and boost participation.
Jack Bell, 64, of Laurel, has participated in the event nine out of the past 10 years and is concerned about moving the event even if it’s only for one year.
“People are very used to that route,” Bell said. “That’s our route. That’s our event. To see it move to another community is sad.”
But, Bell said, he believes those who have participated in, and sponsored, the event will maintain their loyalty to the cause. And, he said, there is something invigorating about cycling a new route and taking in new sights.
“A different route could be kind of exciting,” he said.
This year’s event will feature a variety of choices, ranging from 15 miles to 100. Shorter routes were added to attract less experienced riders, Copeland said.
The Greater Northwest Chapter serves nearly 15,000 people living with MS and more than 89,000 others whose lives are directly impacted by the disease, including family members, friends, co-workers and caregivers in Alaska, Northern Idaho, Montana and Washington.
One of the biggest champions of Bike MS — and one of the highest profile participants — is Jason Barker, president and CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare, who plans to ride in this year’s event.
“This is a great opportunity to enjoy a healthy enjoyable activity while raising funds to support our neighbors and loved ones who are living with MS,” Barker said. “The funds raised will improve the lives of Montanans and make a difference for years to come.”
Additionally, the St. Vincent Healthcare Regional Neuroscience Center for Brain and Spine has signed on as the event’s sponsor.
Sponsoring the event and personally participating in it are extensions of St. Vincent Healthcare’s dedication to helping those who live with the disease.
“We have made a commitment to caring for patients with MS by hiring physicians with specialized training in caring for MS patients,” Barker said.