Riders ready for annual Grape Escape

Annual fun, fundraising ride for MS is July 23 and 24 through the Cowichan Valley

Karen Fowler

Karen Fowler

When Oak Bay’s Dr. Ralph Lapp clips foot to pedal for this July’s Grape Escape  cycling event for MS, he’ll be doing it for his youngest daughter.

Not only does the MS Ride event raise considerable funds for research and programs for those living with multiple sclerosis, but it also showcases the support those individuals have from their friends, families and the greater community.

Lapp and partner Karen Fowler are part of the Devils and Divas ride team, which ranges from about a dozen riders to 25 or so, depending on the year.

The ride, July 23 and 24 this year, winds through the picturesque Cowichan Valley, with numerous stops to visit local art studios, wineries and food purveyors.

Not a race, the emphasis is on fun, Lapp notes, sporting his team devil horns atop his bike helmet.

“It really shows what the Cowichan Valley has to offer,” Lapp says.

Not only are there snack and refreshment stops and bike support, if needed, but volunteers will even carry any purchases back to the home base of Shawnian Lake School, says Fowler, a Devils and Divas founding member.

“It’s a really fun event to be involved with,” Fowler says. “And the money that’s raised here stays on the Island, which is excellent.”

The two-day tour, with multiple distance and route options, is open to all cycling levels, and is part of the national MS Bike, the largest cycling event in Canada. Saturday night features a gourmet dinner at the school, silent auction, live music and dancing.

“They accommodate us so well and the banquet is amazing,” Lapp says.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system and affects 100,000 Canadians, with  with three people being diagnosed each day. MS can occur at any age, but is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 40, peak years for education, career- and family-building. It is three times as likely to occur in women as in men and is more common in people of northern European background.

The disease is unpredictable and can cause symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of co-ordination, weakness, tingling, vision problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.

For more information call 250-388-6496 or visit cowichanvalleygrapeescape.com