As a cloudy Saturday came to a close, many cyclists and volunteers of the City to Shore Bike Tour for MS were just settling into town. 7,000 bikers signed up for the tour and 1,000 volunteers came down to assist at the event.
The tour started in one of three locations; Cherry Hill being the main start, plus Hammonton and Egg Harbor Township. Surrounding cities experienced high traffic and cyclists riding single file in the shoulder lane.
When coming in to Ocean City, the cyclists went to the 5th Street side of the high school and gathered in the parking lot to enjoy fun, games, food and social gathering. Many families brought flowers for their mom or wife, and held signs reading "congratulations".
But studies show that more than half of the cyclists do not know what multiple sclerosis (MS) is, or how it affects people. That is where Brittany Haugen, the education manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society came in.
"We give them an idea of what MS is and show them the complex symptoms," Haugen says of the MS Lab booth set up. "Sometimes the kids will realize 'oh, this is why mommy needs help some times.'"
The table had an arrangement of activities that used oven mitts to symbolize loss of hand eye coordination, goggles to symbolize vision problems and a weight that was strapped to the arm to symbolize fatigue. Each person had to wear two oven mitts, the goggles and the weights. They then had to write their name on a brown paper bag, open the bag with the mitts on, and use a regular kitchen spoon to scoop out Starburst from a container into the brown bag.
Mike Boval stepped up to the plate and gave it a go. His initial thought was that it would be a little challenging, but when he finished he found that it was much more than what it looked like.
Boval and his friend Warner Davis have participated together in the event for 31 years and plan to keep coming back.
"I was touched by this. One year Warner came from Guam just to ride, and this year he came all the way from Texas. Larry King and Channel 10 brought it to the table and it's something that is very important," Boval states.
A rookie that decided to ride down from her home town of Cherry Hill was Cierra Allen. Riding for her coworker at the Elmwood Park and Zoo Linda Southwick, Allen was determined and made it to Ocean City in good time.
"It hurts, but it was awesome," said Allen. "I just can't stop crying."
"I am very proud of her," mom Sharon adds in.
The cyclists had the option of staying in town and biking or driving back the next day, or biking home Saturday night. Ocean City Events LLC coordinated the one-night room accommodations at any hotel they could find. Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning breakfast was available at the Music Pier and at the high school.
Overall, the cyclists lucked out with the weather forecast and only had a few showers along the way. A booth was at the finish line for next year registration. Sign up sheets were completely full.