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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MS bike ride slated for Sept. 8-9

Friday, September 7, 2012

Larry Eden with the Flat Tire Gang
Cycling enthusiasts are gearing up for one of the biggest biking events in the area, the two-day Bike MS: Ozark Ride, taking place on Saturday, Sept. 8 and Sunday, Sept. 9. The ride starts at Clever High School and ends at Schiffendecker Park in Joplin.

Two local cycling groups will be representing the Monett and Pierce City areas, The Flat Tire Gang and the Chain Gang.

Both groups have between 20 and 25 members with one thing in common -- the love of cycling.

"This is an endurance ride," said Larry Eden, who will be participating for the fifth year in the charitable fundraiser. "For me, it started out as a love of cycling, but I ended up believing in the cause."

More than 600 cyclists from the Ozark area are hitting the roads for the annual event, which features 40, 80 and 100-mile ride options.

"This year I plan to do the double century," Eden said. "I will be biking a hundred miles both days. The first day we will ride from Clever to Joplin, stay the night and then ride from Joplin to Clever the following day."

Plans for this year's event will feature special speakers and events taking place at the Schiffendecker Park Athletic Complex where Joplin's Felonious Monk will perform.

"We also have guest speakers who have MS come in and tell us about the trials and tribulations they have experienced with MS," Eden said. "It makes you grateful that you can ride for those who can't."

Members of the cycling groups brave all kinds of weather conditions to get in their weekly training rides.

"Usually, you'll have a couple of short rides in a week and then a long one," Eden said. "The great thing about this is there will be people at all levels participating. You'll see comfort bikes, mountain bikes, moms pulling kids in bike trailers, everything."

There is also a support and gear vehicle (SAG) that will help riders who have a flat tire or other mechanical problems or suffer a medical issue.

There will be rest stops about every 10 miles where riders can replenish with baked goods, fruit and Gatorade.

"Some people will make every stop because for them it's a social occasion, to meet people and talk to their friends," Eden said. "Other riders will never stop at all. They'll have provisions on their bikes and just keep going."

No matter what skill level one has for biking, Eden said, it's not difficult to find a pace buddy to ride alongside.

"Some people will average 13 miles an hour while others average 20," Eden said. "The thing they need to remember is to pace themselves at a level they can maintain all day so they can complete the ride.

"I remember my first ride," Eden continued. "It was a great accomplishment to complete an 80-mile ride. There will be people participating in their first year and they'll be asking all the same questions I did on my first ride. The people in the cycling community are always encouraging to new riders."

Between the two local groups, approximately $19,000 has been raised and donated to the MS Society this year.

"The great thing about biking is that anyone can do it," Eden said. "It's very low impact and won't cause joint or tendon issues."

For more information on the local cycling community visit www.flattiregang.com or www.facebook.com/flattiregang.

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