MS Bike Ride

Sep 27, 2011

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Congratulations. You finished another one and didnt have a heart attack! With a smile on his face, Peter Doig demonstrated his mastery of the back handed compliment. On the week-end of September 10 and 11th I rode in the 15th Annual Riding Mountain Challenge. About 300 cyclists converge on Dauphin every September and ride to Clear Lake on Saturday and ride back on Sunday. At the end of my ride on Saturday, I signed up for a massage from one of the volunteer massage therapists. She asked if this was my first ride. She seemed surprised that it was my eleventh. Perhaps my large gut convinced her that Ive never ridden a bicycle before. I guess no one will ever mistake me for Lance Armstrong. Even though Lance and I are about the same age, Im never going to complete, let alone win a Tour De France. But even someone who looks like me can ride from Dauphin to Clear Lake. And so can you. Why should you ride? First and foremost you should ride to raise money for MS.

What is MS or multiple sclerosis? It is an unpredictable and often debilitating disease of the brain and spinal cord. Some of the long nerves in the brain and spinal cord have a covering called myelin. Myelin works a like the plastic covering around a telephone cord. Without the insulating plastic cover, some of the signal that goes down the telephone wire would leak out. The voice on the phone would sound delayed, weakened, garbled or possibly not there at all. In MS, the body mistakenly attacks the insulating myelin sheath around some of the nerve fibers. So the signals from the brain to the body or body back to the brain get weaker, delayed, garbled or go missing altogether.

Since MS affects some myelin covers some of the time, this leads to one of the most fascinating and frustrating facets of the disease. The symptoms of MS change and are unpredictable. The most common form of MS, relapsing and remitting MS, has well defined attacks followed by complete or partial recovery. It can go away and come back. And it can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. And this is not just that the disease affects different people in different ways! The same person can have different symptoms each attack. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to both worker and employer if a worker came to work one week in a wheel chair and then the next week could walk. Then six months later she could still walk, but says she cant read her computer screen without magnification. And then she is fine. And then six months later she calls in sick for 3 weeks because she is too fatigued to leave the house. Unfortunately, since people with MS often dont look sick and they have symptoms that come and go, some confused employers treat an employees with MS unfairly.

Just as people with MS face different challenges at different times, the riders in the MS Bike tour face different challenges at different times. But neither rain, nor sleet, nor wind, nor hail, nor freezing temperatures have kept the MS Bike riders from getting to Clear Lake. We have cycled through all of them in different years. This years challenge was the heat. Instead of wearing ice fishing gloves, I just sweated and drank a lot of gatorade. We have a few hills to climb between here and Clear Lake as well. But you can climb them if you try. We had a ten year old boy this year do the whole tour with his father. Not only did he raise over $1000 for MS, but he was reported to have said, People with MS have big problems everyday. I can climb this hill for them.

Compared with big diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, why should you care about MS? While it is true that MS isnt as common or as deadly as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Within our country, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of MS in Canada. So Multiple Sclerosis does affect a lot of people in our area.

Until a cure is found, people with MS need support. They need the support of their families, their employers, their doctors and pharmacists and support from people at the MS Society like our Parkland Chapter Manager Robin Searle. Robin has sent years supporting local families with one on one counselling and running various group programs. Robin supports the MS cyclists too. She organized an army of volunteers to run the Riding Mountain Challenge. There are volunteers who come and lend a hand year after year. There are volunteers who man the rest stops and give us perogies, gator aid and chocolate. There are volunteers who drive around in the Safety and Gear Vehicles who have pulled us riders off the road in past years when the storm got too bad for us to ride in anymore. There are Kinsmen working the road signs to control traffic. There are lovely people like my wife who make lunch for us when we get to Clear Lake. There are many, many other volunteers I havent mentioned who make the ride safe and enjoyable for the cyclists.

Dauphin runs a world class event called the Riding Mountain Challenge. If a heart attack waiting to happen like me can ride from Dauphin to Clear Lake eleven times, you do it too. You should go to and sign up. See you on the hills next September!

As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.

MS Society of Canada

Have you heard Trevor on the radio? Listen to 730 CKDM Tuesday Mornings at 8:35 am! We now have most of the articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.


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