Photo by Jeff Earle
Ready to ride: He's still recovering from leg surgery, but Glen Aalbers hopes to make all 150 miles of the MS 150 Bike Tour, which starts today.

Cyclist is ready for his ninth MS tour
For his sister: Man rides to raise money to research disease that afflicts his sibling.

By By Zerline A. Hughes
Ventura County Star writer

Saturday May 6, 2000

Glen Aalbers is riding a bike 150 miles today and Sunday because his sister Wanda can't.

Her multiple sclerosis has gotten so bad she can no longer get out of bed, so for a ninth consecutive year Aalbers, 57, will participate in the 14th annual MS 150 Bike Tour to raise money for research.

This time, however, he said it may be a challenge.

"I just had bypass surgery in my leg but I'm still riding," said Aalbers, an Oxnard Shores Mobile Park resident.

"My first ride was in 1992. At that time, my sister was able to watch. She can't go anywhere by herself now, so I keep riding."

The MS 150 Bike Tour is a 150-mile cycling tour that raises money to help fight the disease. The course begins in Ontario and ends in Palm Springs. Participants will ride throughout the day and make an overnight stop in Yucaipa. The remainder of the race is completed on Sunday

In April 1999, while preparing for last year's race, Aalbers was hit on his way home while bicycling from his job in Westlake Village.

He briefly lost consciousness, but he figured he wasn't hurt too bad after being able to get up and walk around, his wife, Mike, said as her eyes began to well with tears. He participated in last year's race, but afterward ran into health problems.

Over several months he experienced pains and later realized his left leg and foot were cold. The doctor said as a result of the accident he had vascular problems and a pinched artery. He had bypass surgery in his leg in December.

As a result of the surgery, two long lines permanently mark his thigh and calf, reminding him of his close call, but that's not stopping him from raising money for people like his youngest sister.

"During that race I think about my sister who can't race," he said. "It brings tears to my eyes because she'd give anything to ride."

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Symptoms can include numbness in limbs, paralysis or loss of vision. Every hour of every day, someone in the nation is diagnosed with the illness.

The tour is a part of a national cycling series that will raise money toward the education, advocacy and research for MS.

Excited about participating this year, Aalbers has been training on his stationary bike every night for 40 minutes and riding 50-70 miles on the weekend with his wife.

"We always try to prepare ourselves one or two months before," Mike Aalbers said. "We don't usually push ourselves. We just have a good time and don't overdo it."

Their riding team, which includes their daughter, her boyfriend and a family friend, named itself "Arewethereyet?"

Aalbers said he may not reach the finish line this year.

"I promised my sponsors, if I'm hurt, I'll quit," he said. "I may have to get to the finish line in the sag wagon for the people that can't finish the ride. I'm just not 100 percent anymore."

That's not to say he won't give it everything he's got.

"I'm going to pedal till I can't pedal anymore," he said. "I just hope it helps "

Donations for the race can be made until June 9. For more information, call (800) FIGHT-MS.

-- Zerline A. Hughes' e-mail address ismailto:%20zhughes@insidevc.com.

On the Net: MS 150 Bike Tour: www.msevents.com.