Riverdale man is joining cyclists for fund-raiser
Saturday, June 24, 2000
By Jennifer Dobner
Deseret News staff writer
RIVERDALE - Steve Nelson loves to feel the wind blowing through his hair.
Steve Nelson of Riverdale will ride his row-cycle this weekend in the 75-mile "Best Dam MS 150 Bike Tour."
Christie Jackson, Deseret News
"Hey, I'm 50 years old and I have hair. That's saying something, " he says grinning wide. More than that, though, he loves the feeling of freedom he gets aboard his new row-cycle.
On the row-cycle, Nelson, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is on a level playing field with the able-bodied.
"There's something to be said for pitching your chair to the side of the road and just going," said Greg McMahon, who built Nelson's bike and was making some fine-tuning adjustments. "And sometimes the best advocacy is just living your life."
This weekend, Nelson will be an advocate for those who suffer from MS by participating in the annual "Best Dam MS 150 Bike Tour." The two-day event, which takes riders on a 75-mile route from the Cache County Fairgrounds and across Hyrum Dam, is an annual fund-raiser for the Utah arm of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. About 1,200 riders are expected, society spokeswoman Holly Reynolds said. Monies generated from the event will be divided to support national research and education programs and local services for Utahns with the disease.
Nelson, who was diagnosed with the disease almost 20 years ago, has spent the last eight months training for the weekend ride. He started out in the gym working on his upper body strength. Over the past six weeks, he's logged about 400 miles on a loaner bike from McMahon, some days riding on flat courses and other days tackling hills to build his stamina. An athlete in his youth, Nelson has always enjoyed an active lifestyle, even after his MS diagnosis.
"I've always enjoyed the physical workout. I think it increases the longevity of life and the quality of life," he said.
Nelson is clearly anxious to hit the road in his new low-riding three-wheeler, which is long and sleek with shiny chrome and black paint sprinkled with flecks of rainbow glitter. To make it go, Nelson pedals with his arms and steers by leaning his torso gently in the direction he wants to turn. He's hoping to clock at least 40 miles the first day, but said he'll have to wait and see how he's feeling and what the weather does. People with MS have to guard against any activity that raises their core body temperatures, which can exacerbate their disease.
"It's probably the best bike I've ever built," said a proud McMahon, whose hand-cycles bear the name "Aristos," a Greek word that means to do the best with what you have. "It's got all the stuff on it that I want."
There was no talking Nelson into a lower-grade model, McMahon said, or into just keeping the loaner bike. He wanted the best.
And short of a cure for his disease, he also wants the best possible services for those with MS. A frequent volunteer for the MS Society, Nelson said that although he's personally done "zero" fund-raising prior to this weekend's ride, the importance of giving can't be downplayed. He is grateful, he said for people who do and glad that he is able to pedal along to help as well.
"They are investing not only in this generation, but in the next generation," he said. "The money that is going to change hands this weekend will ensure for their children and for their children's children that they will cure this disease."
People with MS, he said, are a lot like the bent rims of a bicycle wheel.
"We want to be trued (straightened), but we can't do it without a little help."
The Best Dam ride is open to anyone. Riders are asked to pledge $150
in contributions. The ride begins at 8:30 a.m. today and at 8 a.m. Sunday
at the Cache County Fairgrounds. For information or to register, call 1-800-FIGHT-MS
or online at www.utah-nmss.org.