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Improving Houston Bike MS team making their mark

Christina Liles // May 2, 2021

Community & Culture

It all started with our regular Tuesday daily stand-up about Pride and Gratitude during the height of the work from home time of Covid. There was a statement about being proud of getting out and completing an 8-mile bike ride, which led to others commenting that they were out riding as well. One thing led to another, and the Improving Bike MS team was created. Over the next 11 months, we organized a team, designated a captain (the only one of us who had completed the MS 150 before), and logged more than 6,000 miles of training rides as a team getting ready for May 1, 2021 – the Bike MS: Texas MS150 ride from Houston to College Station.

Bike MS is the largest fundraising bike series in the world. Each year, nearly 75,000 cyclists and more than 6,000 teams ride together to change the world for people with MS.
Team jersey, signed by all the riders and support group, presented to Ed Grannan, who the team was riding for.

Not only did we have a goal of completing the MS 150, but we also had a purpose behind what we were doing.

A very dear friend and fellow Improver, Ed Grannan, has been fighting his battle with MS for over 8 years. We decided early on that we were going to dedicate all our fundraising and rides to him. Improvers from half of our enterprises were involved with support, fundraising, riding, and much more. This event became something more than a bike ride, and an overwhelming success. The team surpassed the original $5,000 goal and Improving matched this great goal, dollar for dollar, bringing the total to over $10,200 raised for this great cause!

Radar image at 5:00am on May 1, 2021...when the decision to cancel the Texas MS 150 ride was made

After months of training and planning, ride day was here. The team was all set to ride, but mother nature had other plans. Days of strong thunderstorms and pouring rain prior to the ride kick-off caused localized flooding at the starting locations and had roads and bridges unpassable because of flooding, not to mention that rivers and creeks were up out of their banks. And unfortunately, the weather was not easing up come event day. The Bike MS organizers made the decision to cancel this year’s ride for the safety of the riders and volunteers.

*Fun Fact* Bike MS is commonly referred to as the MS 150 in Texas. The 150 in MS 150 is not actually the number of miles you ride. It was the original dollar amount needed to raise to join the organized ride.

While the cycling team was disappointed in not getting to ride, it did not stop us from celebrating our training and fundraising accomplishments. We all traveled up to College Station from Houston, by car instead of bike, and still celebrated together, just as planned with dinner, drinks, and tons of laughter. Through this, we learned quiet a bit about cycling (using clip-ins, padded shorts, and hydration), ourselves, each other, and what it meant to ride for such a great cause with an unforgettable experience.

Cycling team and support team with Ed at the celebration party.

The 2021 Improving Bike MS Cycling team consists of 6 Improvers, Captain Michael Slater, Devlin Liles, Robyn Fuentes, Chapman Baetzel, Walton Leavell, and Christina Liles. We also had numerous supporters that helped us along the journey.

The cycling team is ready to start training again for the 2022 event and plans to make an even bigger mark next year.

 For more information on Bike MS, or how to find a ride near you, check out MS Society.

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