This Cyclist Has Raised More Than $14,000 for Multiple Sclerosis Research
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Name: Curtis Spear
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Occupation: Product marketing manager
Time Cycling: 5 years
Reason for Cycling: I got started in cycling when I worked for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society managing their social media for Bike MS, a charity cycling series. I wanted to better connect with my audience and ended up finding a passion.
Growing up my dad was a cyclist and I remember always thinking it was funny seeing him in spandex clothing and cycling gear. Well, look at me now!
In 2017, I accepted a job with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a nonprofit whose mission is to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder. I joined the marketing team and managed the social media for Bike MS, a charity cycling series with rides that usually span 130 to 150 miles and take multiple days to complete.
My first year at the Society, I attended an event as a volunteer but soon realized if I wanted to connect with our social audience, I needed to understand the cycling world better.
I decided to sign up for my first Bike MS in Colorado in 2019. As I started training and got more into cycling, I soon got all the gear and a real road bike. (I started out on my dad’s old hybrid and I was lucky to get in a 10-mile ride, lasting about one and a half hours, before I felt dead.) As time went on, my endurance improved.
It wasn’t long after getting my road bike that I started to feel like I was a cyclist.
I liked riding for Bike MS because it was not only a physical challenge, but we were also all working toward a common goal of raising money for MS. I liked being part of this community of riders and supporting an important cause.
What started as a job to understand the world of cycling really turned into a passion that I have been enjoying since 2019. I am in my fifth year of Bike MS rides and have raised more than $14,000 for MS research. It’s a cause that has kept me active and challenged, which I love.
The Bike MS events are truly amazing, and span the U.S. The MS Society has a well-organized system with thousands of volunteers, which allows for rest stops every 10 to 15 miles, with all kinds of food and nutrition to keep you going.
While I am no longer working at the MS Society, I’m still very involved in Bike MS and enjoy volunteering at events. I am fortunate to have met some life-long friends who live with MS, and I now ride for them.
One of my great friends and former co-workers, Cheryl, is the person I pay tribute to on my gear. When I am suffering through the Texas heat and riding in horrible wind, I remind myself that this is nothing compared to what those who live with MS have to deal with on a regular basis. It motivates me to keep going.
I just completed my most recent Bike MS event on May 6 to 7, 2023, in which I rode from Dallas to Fort Worth, Texas. We biked 135 miles over two days—75 miles on day one and 60 miles on day two—and raised $3,000.
To train for these events, I aim to get a lot of saddle time. I’ll usually do two to three 60-mile rides leading up to my event, but most of my weekly rides are in the 20- to 30-mile range.
Beyond riding for Bike MS, I still like to ride one to two times a week, either outside or on the bike at the gym to keep my endurance up, alongside my other exercise.
Cycling has helped my physical and mental health immensely. Riding for a good cause of course makes me feel great, but I have come to really enjoy the time I spend on my bike. Cycling gives me time to think about my life—how I am doing personally, plus my relationships and my family.
We all find different ways to get into cycling. Your path is yours. You just have to find a way to make it count. Whether you are riding for your own health, for a cause you care about, or because you are competitive, find that reason and always challenge it!
These three tips have made my cycling journey a success:
1. Find your motivation
The biggest advice I would give anyone riding, whether in prep for a race or for fun, is to just keep riding. Whether you can only get five miles in one day and 20 the next, get on the bike. Your mental health will thank you for the fresh oxygen and endorphins.
If you ride but are finding it to be boring, find a way to tie it to a cause you care about. Lots of nonprofits have rides to raise funds.
2. Get more saddle time
Get your lower body prepped and strong with proper training on the bike so that you can withstand the extended time in the saddle come event or race day.
3. Build your endurance first
When you start riding, it may feel like you are slow. But keep riding the same distance and you’ll see you’ll get faster. It took me one and half hours to ride 10 miles when I started riding. Now I can ride 10 miles in about 40 minutes. Endurance takes time—be patient and know it happens and your pace will increase.
Curtis’s Must-Have Gear
→ Pickle Juice Shots: I believe this is how I avoid muscle cramps. These shots are kind of gross sometimes but they work for me.
→ Chamois Butt’r: I am a firm believer in gliding your way through a ride. This chamois butter is great when doing longer rides. Avoid chafing and thank me later.
→ Primal Bibs: I have used three different brands of cycling bibs, and Primal has been my favorite. They last, they have fun designs, and they do what they are built to do.
→ Great Value Watermelon Limeade Electrolyte Mix: There are so many great electrolyte packets on the market but these offer a good bang for your buck—and they’re very tasty.
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