Thank you for your inquiry and interest in the Wrestling MS Bike Program! Before you begin the application process, we’d like to share a little more about Wrestling MS, why we are so passionate about helping people with MS, our program, and our process of selecting MS patients to join the team.
We started Wrestling MS and the bike program to help MS patients, like yourself, who are wrestling with the loss of balance, muscle strength and control that MS causes. We provide FREE bikes, cycling equipment, support, training and hope to MS patients who want to cycle to combat the challenges of MS.
Our Inspiration – Les Wrestles MS
In 2013, Les Gatrel a former 2X NCAA All American 190-pound wrestler was diagnosed with MS. Dealing with loss of balance, muscle control and strength, Les also endured the loss of his business and found his personal support network in Seattle was not as strong as he would need. Overweight, out-of-shape, and discouraged, he felt ill equipped and struggled to find a hopeful future with MS. That’s when he received a call from a wrestling teammate from across the country who challenged him to take up cycling and start training to ride 190 miles together, a distance equal to his previous wrestling weight.
At the time, Les could not ride 20 feet, let alone a few miles. Determined to meet the challenge, Les set out to prove, to himself, that he could find strength and hope for life with MS. A few months later wearing an ice vest and riding with his old wrestling teammates and fraternity brothers, he rode 12 miles. The 12 miles were a challenge, but Les went home more determined than ever and continued to train. Backed by a strong, long-distance support group of friends and an encouraging coach, Les returned four months later and completed a 90-mile ride in one day!
The next year, he took up a full season of training – and riding alongside the same friend who originally issued the ‘190 Challenge’ – he rode the 190 miles over three days!
In 2016, Les rode over 4000 miles including 477 miles in seven days to complete the fabled RAGBRAI ride across his home state of Iowa. Since he began riding Les has lost over 80 pounds, found a new support system, and a new lease on life. Simply put Les says; “This cycling program saved my life”.
With the desire to do for others, what others did for him, Les started the Wrestling MS bike program and cycling team with the very same group that first challenged and rode with him. Our hope is that you will experience the same hope, support and success through this program as Les has.
The Cycling Team, the Bike Program, ‘Sponsored Riders’ – How It All Works
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 are 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.
The Selection Process
You are not just applying for a FREE bike, you are applying to become a ‘Sponsored Rider’ on the Wrestling MS National Cycling Team.
Our sponsors and donors entrust us to find MS patients with the heart, drive and motivation to fight MS as best they can through cycling. So, we have an obligation as trustees to choose MS patients for the program that will ride the bikes consistently, and commit to the training program.
We are looking for MS patients who have determination, heart, a fighting spirit. We are looking for those that have the attitude and commitment to be a good team member, to ride in the local training rides, to participate in the team rides when they are ready, to
be a good ambassador for the program and the organization, and to help grow it by sharing it with others, especially other MS patients.
While we hope and believe this program will positively improve your mental and physical condition, Wrestling MS, Inc. makes no assurance that participation in this program will halt or improve your MS, or your symptoms of MS.
As with all physical activity there is risk involved in cycling and in participation in this program. As a ‘Sponsored Rider’ you will be asked to sign a legal Agreement to assume all risk and to hold WrestlingMS Inc., its Directors, Officers, and volunteers harmless for medical issues, or in the event of injury, loss, or death resulting from use of the provided bike, cycling uniform, training program, or riding activities. All selected applicants will be required to sign a legally binding contract before joining the Wrestling MS National Cycling Team and receiving their bike and uniform. Unwillingness to do so will result in being de-selected.
Should you be selected and accept a bike from Wrestling MS, Inc. and participate on the Wrestling MS National Cycling Team as a ‘Sponsored Rider’ you will have certain obligations and responsibilities as spelled forth in the attached Terms and Conditions. Please review them prior to applying.
All applicant evaluation and selection is handled by a Selection Team set up by the Wrestling MS, Inc. Board of Directors. All decisions of the Selection Team are final. Our Selection Process consists of five steps:
- Written Application and Initial Review
- Medical Clearance
- Personal interview
- Assessment Ride
- Bike Presentation
Selection Process Details
Written Application – When an application is received, it is initially reviewed by at least one member of the Selection team. The application is assessed to determine the compatibility with our Bike Program. If your application passes the initial review, it will undergo a higher level of scrutiny as the Selection team analyzes all the applications submitted.
- Medical Proof of MS and Clearance – All applicants will be required to provide a letter from their doctor confirming their date of diagnosis, and stating they are approved to participate in physical exercise. This confirmation should include the doctors name and contact information. This can be submitted along with the application, but in all cases, MUST be submitted before a personal interview can be arranged.
- Personal Interview – If an application passes the initial review and Medical Proof and Clearance are received, we will set up a personal interview, or interviews with at least two members of the Selection team.
- Assessment Ride – Provided the background check is completed satisfactorily, we will arrange a time to meet face-to-face for an assessment ride. This is done to help us understand your needs and capabilities, what bike is best suited for you, what cycling gear to order, and what training is most appropriate.
- Selection – After the Assessment Ride, WMS will e-mail the selected Sponsored Rider an agreement specifically addressing issues such as use of the issued bike, training programs, Rider’s obligations, social media promotions, etc. After reviewing the agreement, the applicant will commit to the agreement via email and the Selection Committee will schedule the Bike Presentation.
- Bike Presentation – At the formal presentation event the ‘Sponsored Rider’ will sign their agreement, and formally be presented their bike, uniform and bike package by WMS and the bike’s sponsor.
‘Sponsored Rider’ TERMS & CONDITIONS
Each ‘Sponsored Rider’ selected by Wrestling MS, Inc. dba Les Wrestles MS, (hereinafter WMS) is being selected as a member of the ‘Wrestling MS National Cycling Team’ (hereinafter ‘Team’). Each Rider will be provided a FREE quality hybrid WMS bike, WMS team uniform, training and coaching. Riders are selected through an application process. Selections are based solely on the discretion of WMS. All selections are final and not subject to 3rd parties.
The term of this commitment is two (2) years
Medical Records and Consent
As part of the selection process you will be asked to provide WMS medical proof of your MS and clearance from your physician regarding your suitability to participate in this program. You must provide WMS with the name and contact info for your MS medical provider.
As with all physical activity there is risk involved. You will be asked to sign an agreement holding WMS its Directors, Officers and volunteers harmless and waive your right to sue in event of injury or death.
Commitment to Train and Ride
Under the Agreement you will be asked, to the degree your MS condition permits, to strictly follow our training program. You will be asked to register with the ride training software that we select and connect to our team and team members for coaching, encouragement and training accountability. You agree to register for and ride in at least one team ride per cycling season whether that ride is organized by WMS or one of its partner organizations.