While students usually spend their summer months reflecting and preparing for the new school year to come, Erin Howard, a member of the class of 2019, will be training endlessly in preparation for her four Bike MS: Cape Cod Getaway. The Cape Cod Getaway is a charity bike ride that focuses on raising money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that is often unpredictable and disabling and can result in dangerous, lifelong symptoms. The ride consists of traveling 150 miles, starting in Boston and ending in Provincetown, in a matter of two days. For Erin, the bike ride may not be easy, but it’s deeply personal. Her Aunt Pam, who used to participate in the Cape Cod Getaway bike ride alongside Erin and her family, was diagnosed with MS in her twenties. She is a constant motivation for Erin.
The two days are broken up into an average of 75-80 miles-per-day, and riders are greeted with monstrous amounts of support by those cheering them. Support vehicles are constantly nearby, providing water and other basic needs to the bikers while they make their tremendous ride up and down hills and bumpy roads. For Erin, her support network includes her family and friends, some of whom have been diagnosed with MS themselves, and are right there riding beside her.
The morning of the June event is less than three months away, and as the race nears, Erin has begun to reflect on her previous race experiences. She recalled her emotions as the announcer started to call out teams to officially start the ride. “The start of the day is full of some nerves building up,” she said, “but at the same time happiness as soon as we all arrive at the carrels and join our teams. The minute they start calling teams everyone gets excited and they blast music and one by one each group is sent off.”
Erin, who used to volunteer at the event, described the time she crossed the finish line and completed her first Bike MS: Cape Cod Getaway, “I felt an overwhelming amount of exhaustion and joy. I was amazed that such a large amount of people could come together to complete such a mentally and physically draining two days, but all with smiles on their faces.” Erin emphasized that when it comes to the Cape Cod Getaway, everyone is a winner and that it’s important to remember the event is not a race. Everyone who is riding is working towards a better future for all those affected by MS.
With fundraising just beginning, Erin’s team, Naughty Wheelers, has raised a little under $1,000 dollars, with the ultimate goal of $20,000. Erin’s Aunt Pam continues to be an inspiration for her family to continuously push forward and help create a stronger community, where every mile provides hope for a world without MS.
You can help Erin’s effort by donating to her official Bike MS fundraising page here.
Photos provided by Erin Howard ’19.