This year will mark the seventh year that Riley and Courtney Kieser, a brother and sister combo born and raised in Edmonton, will be riding in Johnson MS Bike – Leduc to Camrose. In addition to being fitness enthusiasts, Riley and Courtney are committed to ending multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that impacts over 100,000 Canadians.
We recently sat down with Riley and Courtney to chat about their personal connection to the cause and why others should get involved in this two-day, 180 km cycling journey through scenic rural Alberta.
Here’s what they shared:
What does Johnson MS Bike mean to you?
Riley & Courtney: MS Bike is important because funds raised support an amazing cause that improves the lives of so many Canadians affected by MS. It is especially close to our hearts because our father was diagnosed with MS 24 years ago. Each year, MS Bike renews our hope for a cure. We ride because we see firsthand the positive effect MS Bike has on the lives of individuals with MS and their families.
Why should others get involved in Johnson MS Bike?
Riley & Courtney: Lots of reasons. The bike tour itself is challenging; however, the event is well run and provides all the tools and support needed to succeed, no matter what your cycling level is. MS Bike has a very welcoming and approachable environment, especially for people new to cycling like we were when we first rode. The team atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment while persevering through the elements is highly rewarding. But most of all, everyone has a blast doing it!
From a fitness perspective, what advice would you give a first time rider?
Riley & Courtney: We would recommend using a road bike if available—although we've seen it completed on many mountain bikes, tandem bikes and even a unicycle! Go for a couple practice rides beforehand to get comfortable with the bike and gears. The more you train, the easier the weekend will be. We also recommend starting with shorter rides to build up your endurance before taking on the bike tour.
In your opinion, what sets Johnson MS Bike apart from other cycling events?
Riley & Courtney: Without having too much firsthand knowledge of other cycling events, we can't emphasize enough how inviting MS Bike is to newcomers as it is a large, very well organized event. The atmosphere at the bike tour is enthusiastic and there is a strong sense of togetherness and unity. It also provides a rewarding challenge for all levels of ability, which puts into perspective the daily difficulties experienced by individuals living with MS. You hear stories from people with MS and are reminded of what you are working towards while cycling and fundraising.
What is your fondest memory from the event?
Riley & Courtney: It is tradition for our group of friends to wait for each other and ride the last leg together. The feeling of accomplishment experienced when crossing the finish line with friends to cheers from the crowd is incredible. And then of course, the final reward of biting into that well-earned burger!
What would a cure for MS mean to you?
Riley & Courtney: Freedom.
Riley and Courtney will be gearing up to end MS with 2000 other cyclists of all levels on June 10 & 11, 2017. If you would like to experience the excitement, challenge and community that is Johnson MS Bike – Leduc to Camrose, register at msbike.ca today.