Just cause: Goin' Farmville to fight MS

Imagine for a moment, dawn has just faded away. You're surrounded by 290 fellow cyclists, their friends, and their families. You slip your feet into your pedals, check your bike for last minute adjustments, tighten your helmet straps, and then, with the force of a spirit once unknown to you, set off on a 150-mile tour to Farmville and back through a maze of back country roads.

Now, imagine you're not doing this for some personal bragging rights. Your sponsors are your friends and business associates, and the only true reward is the hope of life you are giving to someone else, someone with multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease of the central nervous system that can cause symptoms including blindness and paralysis.

For those 290 riders, fighting the disease was at the forefront on June 12 and 13, as the Blue Ridge Chapter of the National MS Society held its semi-annual 150-mile bike tour, aptly named this time the Southern Culture MS 150 (it was largely sponsored by the eponymous West Main Street restaurant). A springtime fund-raising ride has been happening for more than a decade, this year bringing in $185,600 in donations.

At the end of the first day, you could see weariness in many, but good moods abounded in the warm evening on the Longwood University campus. With a lasagna dinner, dorm lodging, and an awards ceremony, it was almost college all over again for many of the older riders. In the end, it was fun and for a good cause. Now that's riding high.

Bikers rest up for their ride home.

Kit French of the Longwood Bike Club donates some free tune-ups.

Longwood used to be an all-female teachers college.
Riders take one last rest before the finish of Day 1.

The road is long. The ride is hard. The cause is worthy.