Every year in October, thousands of bicycling enthusiasts gather before dawn in Irvine, California, to ride the annual "’#bikeMS Bay to Bay Tour 2014" fundraising event hosted by the National MS Society, Pacific South Coast Chapter. The annual event attracts individuals and teams who dauntlessly ask friends, family, work colleagues and strangers for donations in return for riding from Orange County to San Diego. Some ride their bike 50 miles, others ride up to 150 miles for the cause. But because of their physical limitations, few stricken with multiple sclerosis can join #bikeMS - shutting them out of the event that was created on their behalf. Until now.
Using technology developed by San Diego start-up "Delightfit," on Saturday, December 13, 2014, riders of all abilities can make MS history by being part of a first-of-its-kind virtual fundraiser at Cycology Studios in Encinitas. There, supporters will ride the identical #bikeMS Bay to Bay Tour 2014 course virtually on a stationary cycle viewing their trip dynamically on a big screen linked to the Internet. The course viewing includes both video and active course telemetry captured by bike riders who completed the ride in October using their GOPRO camera and a GPS device to record the ride. They then uploaded the video and data to the free www.delightfulagony.com website allowing anyone to experience the ride using any Internet-connected device such as an i-Pad, computer or TV screen.
When Branka Billante found out she can ride the course again, she was ecstatic. Billante suffers from MS, yet every year she rode for the cause. That all changed three years ago while riding what she didn't know would be her final #bikeMS event. Billante fell just ten miles from the finish and was hospitalized with a concussion. Her sense of balance had been deteriorating even before the big ride but she was determined to do her part to defeat MS for everyone. After that tough spill, Billante was heartbroken to be forced to the sidelines every year her while her favorite fundraiser went on without her.
This year, Delightfit technology is the game-changer for #bikeMS. “I feel like my dream came true!,” Billante gushes. While she missed the October event in Irvine, she’ll be back riding a spin bike in Cycology's Encinitas "cycle theater" completing the three-hour tour virtually. Cycology fitness trainer, Jana Rubenstein, is excited about the event. “I have relatives with MS. Being able to invite them to participate is huge for me. It means they are not the victims of this horrible disease, they are part of the answer.”
Anyone who wants to participate with Billante and Rubenstein can do it one of two ways:
- Join the virtual riders at Cycology Fitness cycle theater, 1465 Encinitas Blvd. Suite C, Encinitas, CA 92024, Saturday, December 13 from 11AM - 2PM. Cycology will display the #bikeMS Bay to Bay Tour 2014 on a big screen in front of the riders and offering prizes, food and festivities.
- Ride along at home/gym - RSVP with Sharon Shahnazarian (firstname.lastname@example.org) as a virtual rider to receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to access the #bikeMS Bay to Bay 2014 course from your Ipad, computer or any other internet ready device. This allows participants to ride any or all of the 150 mile course by the end of the year at your convenience.
The founders of Delightfit, Peter O’Sullivan and Greg Elias, ride the Southern California #bikeMS event every year with Howards Team, a group founded in 2008 which has raised over half a million dollars to support the vision of "a world free of MS." Designed primarily for competitive performance athletes, the O'Sullivan and Elias are thrilled that their ground-breaking technology is finding acceptance by challenged athletes, too. “Now, everyone, including MS sufferers and weekend athletes alike, can help find a cure for multiple sclerosis simply by sitting on the seat of any stationary bike, tapping their i-Pad and peddling the entire #bikeMS course from beginning to end,” states O’Sullivan. The two are optimistic that, in the world of race event fundraising, the world’s first “virtual #bikeMS fundraiser” may spark a larger trend. Saturday's groundbreaking event will test if virtual fundraising rides can fortify the live races in raising awareness, participation and raising money to make the world a better place. What we know already is that at least one MS suffer will be able to join the fight again to see a world free of MS.
To join or donate to Howards Team, click here.
Delightfit Inc. is a web development company targeting the fitness and health industry. It is based in Carlsbad Ca. and is privately held.
Cycology Fitness is an Encinitas boutique exercise studio offering specialty classes led by expert fitness trainers.
#bikeMS is the premier fundraising cycling series in the nation. Every mile riden and every dollar raised make a difference to the 2.3 million people living with MS.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.