HOUSTON - For the first time, since before the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclists are ready to set out for the annual Texas MS 150 fundraising bike tour to raise money in the fight against multiple sclerosis.
After COVID-19 restrictions, and a terrible storm last year, that forced a last-minute cancellation, thousands are ready to go.
Rider Juan Pinzon is among them, as he spent the last hours getting ready to make a 17th journey across Texas roads. After overcoming a childhood bout of polio, he now rides for an uncle who has MS.
"After every ride, it's like I'm doing it for the first time," says Pinzon, "It's a mix of emotions, and the most important is raising funds for people living with multiple sclerosis."
Pinzon says he's raised more than a quarter-million dollars for the National MS Society, to help people like Danielle Koblinkski, who says she is not one to back down from a challenge.
"It was my mission to go until I couldn't, possibly, do it anymore," she says. "For me, once someone tells me that I can't do something, I'm just going to figure out what I can do."
The Texas MS150 is the largest fundraiser on the National MS Society's calendar.
Like a lot of charities, COVID-19 has proven a financial challenge, so there's excitement to get the event back on the road to meet this year's $8.1 million dollar goal.
"With a new finish in College Station, on Kyle Field, I think everyone is really looking forward to it," says the society's Linda Bates. "As a team, internally, we've been working on this for four years, now, so it's nice to be able to pull it off, finally."
Riders, like Juan Pinzon, wouldn't miss it.
"As long as the legs keep moving, I will do it as many times as I can," he says.
This year's event will be the first to start riders in Austin, and Houston, to meet for an overnight stay in La Grange, before continuing to finish in Kyle Field, at Texas A&M University.