MONMOUTH — Starting Friday, the Western Oregon University campus will be bombarded with upward of 600 bikers.
Don’t think Sturgis and “hogs” though, they’re not those kind of bikers. From Saturday to Sunday, teams of cyclists will venture across the Willamette Valley in the name of charity.
The 29th annual Bike MS is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Oregon Chapter’s premier fundraising event.
In its second year at Western, the event has grown from 550 riders to approaching 600 with one day left to register.
“We were looking for an area that could accommodate and grow the event. Western had been a good partner for other events like Cycle Oregon,” NMSS Oregon Chapter President Lisa Roth said. “They seemed to be able to accommodate our needs and experience. Also, the Willamette Valley has so many good routes.”
In 2009, Western hosted Cycle Oregon and almost 2,000 cyclists.
While Bike MS hasn’t approached those numbers in Oregon, it has a dedicated following around the country with more than 100 events taking place from late spring to early fall.
Cyclists will have their choice between six distinct routes during the two-day event.
On Day 1 riders can choose from 33-, 63-, 83- and 100-mile routes. Day 2 offers 35- and 50-mile options.
“It’s a pretty discerning cycling community in Oregon. There’s a lot of competition to make sure events are well-executed,” Roth said. “People enjoyed the routes and location of Western. We’re excited to return.”
Riders can register as an individual or as a team of four — fees are $55 per rider.
Each rider is tasked with raising a minimum donation of $250 — this includes every team member.
Fees and donations go back to the Oregon chapter to fund MS research and assist the more than 7,700 people in Oregon and southwest Washington living with MS.
“We expect to raise over $400,000 this year,” Roth said. “We try to keep our expenses for the event to 20 percent of revenue. We want as much as possible to go to our services.”
Cyclists will receive much needed support on the six routes from close to 250 volunteers.
Staggered every 8 to 12 miles, rest stops offering food and water will help riders to maintain adequate energy and hydration.
In case of any accidents or equipment issues, medical and mechanical support stations will be scattered across the courses as well.
Bikes Plus in Monmouth served as a registration and information point for prospective riders and their trained mechanics will be on site for repairs.
“It’s really well supported. There’s waypoints where people can hydrate and fuel up,” Bikes Plus manager and lead mechanic Chris Eggen said. “We actually talked to the people with Bike MS before we even opened (June 19) about trying to help and do whatever we can for the race.”
For more information or to register: www.bikemsoregon.com.