The West Kootenay Glacier Challenge MS Bike Tour will cruise into Nelson Saturday evening, as the 56 participating cyclists mark the midpoint in their 216 kilometre ride.
The inaugural tour is one of six MS bike rides across the province and is expected to become a major fundraiser for the West Kootenay chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, which also benefits from the annual MS Walk each spring.
Leona Dimock, fundraising co-coordinator for the West Kootenay chapter, said she won't know how much the event has raised until after the weekend, but she hopes the total will be around $50,000.
"I've been really impressed by how much participants raised through online donations and we expect they'll be dropping off other donations on the day of the event," said Dimock.
The money will be used by the West Kootenay chapter to support people in our community living with MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord with symptoms like loss of balance, extreme fatigue and paralysis.
Dimock said the tour organizing committee has been working over a year and a half to make this ride possible.
"It's exciting that it's finally just around the corner," she said.
Cyclists will begins in New Denver on Saturday morning and will follow the Selkirk Loop south to through Slocan to Playmor Junction, then north to Nelson where they'll stop for the night. The second day will finish the loop, heading through Kaslo then back to New Denver.
While in Nelson, participants will have a spaghetti dinner and award celebration at Lakeside Park in the evening and a pancake breakfast in the park the next morning. Elsewhere on the route, organizers will have water stops set up for riders.
According to Dimock, about 2/3 of bike tour participants live in the West Kootenay, and the rest will come from elsewhere in BC and Alberta. Each cyclist was required to raise $325 to take part in the fully supported ride.