VERDE VALLEY - With the MS Ride for Life bike run approaching in the Verde Valley, we asked the President of the Arizona MS Society about the disease. The run based in Cottonwood will course throughout the Verde Valley in an effort to help fund research into the disease.
Jim Elfline says multiple sclerosis is the most common debilitating disease of many adults, but it tends to be a mystery to most of us. Often it is difficult to determine what is causing the fatigue, the pains or other problems, since MS disguises itself as other conditions. There is no one single laboratory test to define the disease, but an MRI is usually used.
Elfline says the bike runs have become a staple of the MS society since the chairman of the Minnesota Chapter and his son first biked 150 miles over 30 years ago.
"We fund research, but also provided local services for people with MS," Elfline says. "Research over the past 15 years has been able to get 10 disease-modifying therapies on the market. So there has been a lot of success. There are actually 13 therapies, some of them for symptom management of MS. We really leave no stone unturned when it comes to MS. We focus on genetics but we also focus on the environmental factors that may cause MS."
Those between the ages 20 and 50 in the prime of their lives are the most vulnerable. But it also impacts kids; more and more kids are being diagnosed with MS.
"I don't know if there is an increase in MS but there certainly is an increase in the number of cases that are diagnosed within younger populations," Elfline says.
By Monday, 560 people had already signed up for the rides throughout the Verde Valley a figure expected to rise as the day of the events grows closer. "We have teams, corporations and all kinds of participants," Elfline says. "Ride 150 miles and raise money on our behalf."
He says the Verde Valley is an ideal location for the run.
"We really like the location. It is a beautiful area to ride in. Another thing that we like is they are cycling communities and the areas are open to cycling and people are used to cycling. Cottonwood and Sedona really embrace the event.
Those staying the weekend may set up camp Friday beginning at noon. Many riders will be arriving Saturday morning after 5 a.m.
Watch for cyclists throughout Verde Valley this weekend The Arizona Department of Transportation is encouraging drivers to be alert for bicyclists traveling along the shoulders of state highways throughout the Verde Valley this weekend due to a special event.
More than 1,000 bicyclists are expected to participate in a charity bike race on Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Drivers can expect to see bicycle riders on State Route 89A and SR 179. Minimal delays are expected but ADOT suggests drivers be prepared for slower traffic through the area.
State law requires a vehicle to maintain a three-foot gap when passing a bicycle on a roadway.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the ADOT project hotline at (855) 712-8530.