We set up the Wrestling MS Bike Program and Cycling Team specifically to assist MS patients to take up cycling. We know cycling can improve the balance, muscle control and strength of many MS patients.
Through our partnership with Primal Wear and their ‘I Ride With MS’ program, every MS patient that cycles is eligible to become a member of the Wrestling MS National Cycling Team. We are not a competitive cycling team, we are a team for MS patients who cycle. We also have non-MS patients who ride as part of our team to support MS patients through encouragement, coaching and peer-to-peer fundraising. If you are an MS patient who cycles, we welcome you to join the team and ride with us, enjoy great friendships and help other MS patients get on a bike. As part of our team we are committed to providing you camaraderie, support, hope, coaching and training.
But we know MS can affect more than a person’s health. It can affect their income and we don’t want that to be a hindrance to an MS patient who wants to get on the road to a healthier life. So, through our Bike Program we provide FREE bikes and cycling gear to MS patients who cannot afford to purchase a bike and bike gear on their own. We call them a ‘Sponsored Rider’. Beyond just providing them bikes and gear, they become a full member of our Wrestling MS National Cycling Team as well.
We know the hope, support, coaching and encouragement Les received were, and are, critical to his success. We believe every MS patient on our team deserves the same. So, every member of our team is treated as an athlete, and with the same expectations of any able-bodied cyclist – have a great attitude, do your best, work hard, learn the sport, have fun, challenge yourself, and support others on the team.
The standard bike we provide a ‘Sponsored Rider’ is a new two-wheel hybrid bike from a quality manufacturer like Specialized, Cannondale, Trek, or Fuji. Each bike is bought to size, and custom fit at one of our professional bike shop partners. If an MS patient cannot ride a two-wheel bike, we will do all we can to assist them to obtain the bike they need. As we have a budgeted amount per bike, we may not be able to cover the entire cost of a recumbent or specially equipped bike. In that case, the ‘Sponsored Rider’ may have to cover the remainder that is beyond what we have budgeted for a regular bike.
We have no requirement or expectation that the ‘Sponsored Rider’ is an accomplished rider when they first join the team. In fact, we presume they are starting from zero, and may have some trouble with balance and muscle control, just like Les did. That’s why we have an assessment ride as part of the selection process. That helps us to understand if this is a program they can benefit from, and if they fit our standard 10- week training program or need a custom plan.
All we ask of the ‘Sponsored Rider’ is to have the determination, drive and perseverance to try to ride a bike. And no matter at what level they start, to participate in our training program to see if it improves their balance, muscle control and strength. Normally the training program starts in late May with 2-3 rides per week over a 10- week training program with the goal of riding 10-40 miles with the WrestlingMS team in mid-September. That distance may seem impossible when a ‘Sponsored Rider’ starts, but we believe the program will increase their balance and muscle strength to where they can successfully complete the ride with the team. And as a result, we believe their health and life will be transformed.