Cyclists in the area are gearing up for another race as the Delaware MS Society's 2012 Bike to the Bay is coming up later this month.

The event, which takes place Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, raises money for the programs and services provided by the MS Society to help individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis as well as raises funds for research.

This year's race features six different bike routes from 175 miles to 17 miles. Over 1,800 people are expected to participate, with over 135 teams already registered.

What is multiple sclerosis?

MS is a disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

The disease affects more than 400,000 people in the United States and 2.1 million worldwide. Roughly 1,500 Delawareans live with MS.

According to the National MS Society website, there is no cause for MS but researchers believe it is an autoimmune disease.

No two people have the same MS experience and often have different symptoms. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with MS.

An annoyance of a disease

Jason Troyer, 31, of Bridgeville, was 26 years old when he was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Numb from the neck down, Jason thought his back was out of line so he went to a chiropractor who then sent him to a neurologist and within a week he was diagnosed.

"I didn't know what MS was, I just knew it was bad," Jason said. "I would say at first I was shocked and thought 'Oh my God, this is a death sentence.' Then learning more about it, it sounded like it was more a nuisance than a death sentence."

For the most part, Jason – who is married with three children – has most of his feeling back and he hasn't had a lot of attacks. Jason and his wife, Jenny, participate in Bike to the Bay. Each of the three years Jason has done the race, he's had an attack a few days later. One attack resulted in loss of vision in Jason's left eye, which hasn't completely come back.

A change in lifestyle

Prior to Jason's diagnosis, he weighed about 300 pounds and since then he's lost 130 pounds. He started riding a bike after his diagnosis, which ultimately led to Jason and Jenny participating in Bike to the Bay.

"Somebody said 'You have MS. Why don't you ride in Bike to the Bay?' And I said, 'Sure, I'll give it a try,'" Jason said.

The name of their cycling group is Beyond Training Wheels. Participants in the group vary in levels, with some people doing the 175-mile Bike to the Bay route with others choosing less mileage.

So how has life changed for Jason and Jenny? Jenny said the experience has been interesting. Sometimes Jason has trouble changing their youngest child Brody, who is 10 months old. For their children, it's not something they really talk about it and the children don't really realize what's happening.

Each person diagnosed with MS suffers differently; Some people have it for 20 years with no attacks while others are in a wheel chair after five years. Therefore, the Troyers try not to stress.

"According to the doctor, he's doing really good. So we take that and go on," Jenny said.

Bike to the Bay Details

WHEN Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23

SIX ROUTES 175 miles, 150 miles, 100 miles, 75 miles, 45 miles, or 17 miles

STARTING LOCATIONS Depending on route, in Dover, Felton, and Milton.


COST Registration fee of $50 through Sept. 15, or $55 after Sept. 15; Registered cyclists are required to collect $250 in pledges.