Denise Begg has always enjoyed cycling recreationally, but years ago she geared up a few notches for the charity ride she now completes annually.
“We’d go for rides up at Whistler or wherever, but this is something different,” said the retired Guildford-area resident. “I enjoy it, it’s fun.”
On Saturday and Sunday (July 14-15), Begg again donned cycling shorts and a helmet, and pedalled her way through the Fraser Valley during another MS Ride, starting at Thunderbird Showpark in Langley.
Close to 130 cyclists and 20 teams were signed up for the event, a fundraising effort to help change the lives of Canadians affected by multiple sclerosis, or MS.
“I do the long ride, so it’s 115 (kilometres) the first day and 55 the second day,” Begg explained before the event. “There are various lengths of rides, and people have a few options — ride only the Saturday if that fits in, and you can do one of three different routes on Saturday and two on Sunday.
“I do the long ride because I figure I can do it, and people with MS can’t — or some of them can’t, you know,” she added.
She’s a member of the Out Spoke’n team that raised more than $20,000 this year — tops among all teams. In total, the event raised a cool $145,000 on a warm-weather weekend.
“The weather was perfect but a little too hot, especially for Saturday’s long ride,” Begg said Monday.
“With that kind of support, here’s hoping a cure will be found in the near future,” she added.
On her own, Begg has cycled for close to $28,000 during her eight years of participation.
“One of my sons (Gavin) rides with me, and between the two of us, up until this year, we’ve raised just over $50,000 between the two of us,” Begg noted.
To collect all that cash, Begg works on a variety of fundraising initiatives throughout the year.
“Lately, the last few years, I have a garage sale,” she explained, “and I do what they call a gently-used purse auction with donated purses, and people bid on those, and I’ve done raffles, I knit — that’s the last couple of years when I’ve been into the knitting. I sort of start around Christmas and whatever I make until the ride, I put in. Coin drives, and basically word of mouth, Facebook friends, stuff like that. I like that sort of stuff anyway, so I enjoy doing it.”
Begg got involved in MS Ride starting in 2010, and hasn’t looked back.
“Initially,” she recalled, “my daughter-in-law’s mom and sister and a couple of their friends did it one year, and I thought it looked like so much fun, and then the next year I signed up. The following year, I had a family member diagnosed with MS so, you know, I’ve been doing it faithfully ever since.
“We have a great team, and we just have so much fun,” she added. “Everybody is like family, and when you go back every year, there are a lot of the same riders, so it’s just the camaraderie that’s built up. And some of the riders are riding with MS – nobody on our team, but on others. To know that possibly your money is going to find a cure for MS, that’s the thing.”
The Fraser Valley circuit is among four MS Ride events held in B.C. at different times of year, as part of what organizers say is the largest fundraising cycling series in North America. Funds raised “support innovative research into the cause, treatment and cure of MS as well as provide valuable services, programs and advocacy for Canadians affected by MS,” according to Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
“We are all looking forward to riding again next year and hope more riders will join this very important and fundraising event,” Begg said Monday. “Lots of fun was had by all.”
For more event details, visit msbike.ca.