Weather provided some welcome and unwelcome changes for the 10th year of the Bike the US for MS ride through Chanute.
This year, rathert than staying at Santa Fe Park, the bicyclists spent the night in the air-conditioned Knights of Columbus hall on west 21st Street, a welcome relief from the high heat indices.
“It is very, very much appreciated,” route leader Brian Joseph said.
But the riders were also originally scheduled to bike today from Chanute to Eureka.
The transcontinental route is the same each year, Joseph said. They spend a rest day in Pittsburg where they perform community service, then stop overnight in Chanute before riding west.
On Tuesday evening, they received word about the devastating tornado in Eureka, and Wednesday morning saw pictures. Thursday afternoon they had not yet learned exactly how their trip would change.
Most of the 17 riders this year arrived in Chanute before 2 pm Thursday, when even the locals were commenting on the heat.
Joseph, who lived in Buffalo, NY, before relocating to Phoenix, Ariz., said dealing with heat is a relative matter. Nancy Arrington of Atlanta, Ga., said the low humidity was pleasant.
Joseph said the hardest part of the ride is usually considered to be through the Blue Ridge Mountains, when people are just getting their legs. Kansas is hot and windy, which he said is a different stress.
“We still just stock up on extra water,” Joseph said. “This is very manageable.”
Support vehicles accompany them to pick up riders in heat distress and apply cold compresses. Towards the end of the ride, they go through Arizona and southern California in 115 degree temperatures. Joseph said he has ridden other routes of the event, but this is his first year to do the transcontinental trip.
The ride starts in Yorktown, Va., and ends 3,785 miles later in San Francisco. The event raises funds for a cure for multiple sclerosis, and Joseph said they have raised $80,000. In addition to service projects, they also presented a $5,000 check on June 3 to UVA James Q. Miller Multiple Sclerosis Clinic in Charlottesville, Va.
Often, they assist MS patients with yard work and other assistance during rest days. Wednesday, they cleaned the sensory playground in Pittsburg’s Schlanger Park. They didn’t have projects for individual patients in Chanute or Pittsburg.