At 73 years of age, widowed and with two hip replacements, Bob McGregor is determined to make a difference in the fight against multiple sclerosis by cycling over 150 miles in two days.
"This is the first time I've entered the bike tour. I hope I can do it," he said just prior to a midweek training session. "It's a lot of miles."
McGregor is one of the hundreds of cyclists entered in the 20th Anniversary MS150 Best Dam Bike Tour Nov. 5 and 6. The cycling benefit begins at Lake Pleasant and covers 174 miles, crossing into California, before wrapping in Parker.
An overnight stop and ride celebration will be held in Salome.
McGregor's interest in the bike ride began last year when he helped stage the race as a volunteer.
"As I watched, I thought it was something I could do and it's for a great cause," he said. "I can't run anymore, so I thought I'd try cycling."
The former Senior Olympian had to give up long distance running, at the advice of his doctor, after undergoing the hip replacements.
McGregor will participate in the race as a member of the Phoenix Ski Club that had 18 riders earn $17,000 for MS at last year's benefit.
"This year we expect 24 or 25 club members to enter, and hope to earn about $25,000," McGregor said.
The ski club cycling team has tagged themselves the "Black Diamond Drafters."
Organizers of the MS bike tour call it "the largest organized cycling series in America and one in which hundreds of thousands of riders nationwide have logged more than 10 million miles to help those living with the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis."
Multiple sclerosis usually strikes adults in the prime of life --between the ages of 20 and 50 years. It is a chronic disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord.
Recent advances in research have yielded several treatments that may alter the underlying disease course of MS, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said.
Among those who have suffered from MS is country music star Clay Walker. In 2005, he is serving as the Honorary Ambassador for the 2005 MS Cycling Series and will ride in the Best Dam Bike Tour.
"I am proud to partner with the NMSS because we share similar goals -- to raise money for research to help find a cure for MS and to educate and inspire people living with MS to take responsibility for managing the disease," Walker said.
"My band and I are in shape and ready to ride."
Walker was diagnosed with the disease in 1996.
McGregor and the other riders in the Best Dam Bike Tour can earn money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society by collecting pledges for their ride.
Anyone who would like to sponsor McGregor with a donation to the MS Society may call him at (928) 472-8091.
For more information about MS, call 1-800-FIGHT MS or log on to http://www.nationalmssociety.org