For the last several years, I've had the wonderful opportunity to take my love of cycling and put it to some good use (beyond making friends and challenging myself :) ) by raising money for Multiple Sclerosis. I'm not sure what the genesis was, but for whatever reason MS fundraising and cycling are a pretty common pair. The National MS society puts on MS 150 events across the country, and they're a great fundraising event. Anyway, whatever the reason, it works out great for me!
My dad was diagnosed with MS ~20 years ago, when I was in second grade. He has been very fortunate in a number of ways, including responding well to what was then one of the few treatments available, and maintaining a very healthy lifestyle. He's really active, and you could know him quite well and never suspect he had MS. But many people with MS are a lot less fortunate than he is, and that coupled with the relative rarity of the disease means that getting diagnosed can be a very scary, very lonely thing.
For the last several years I've been working with a fundraising organization called MS Global, founded by former professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton. MS Global has been around for ~15 years, and for the last ~5 it has been raising money for Can Do MS (https://www.cando-ms.org/). Can Do MS grew out of the Jimmie Heuga Foundation, founded by the late Olympic Alpine Skiing medalist and MS patient Jimmie Heuga. Can Do is dedicated to helping teach MS patients to use diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes (alongside their medication regimen) to help them manage their symptoms and regain control of their life.
Every year MS Global spends the summer raising money for Can Do MS, and then as a celebration/incentive we go for a week-long cycling trip in the fall. This year we went to Moab, UT, and spent a week riding through the spectacular desert landscape. Since Moab is basically our backyard here in PC, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to show it off to the MS Global crew. I lobbied hard for a mountain biking day, but was unsuccessful. I had to resign myself to a week on the road bike, which is at least the second best way to see Moab.
We had some great rides, but the highlight for me by far was the La Sal Mountain Loop. At ~65 miles and ~5,200' of elevation gain, it's a big day, but totally manageable. And the views are absolutely spectacular. The top of the climb is right where the Hazard County turns into Kokopelli Singletrack on the Whole Enchilada, and you're looking down into Castle Valley. It's amazing.
But it wouldn't be a Moab trip without at least a little mountain biking, and I was able to scratch that itch on our "rest day". I took a few of the other MS Global folks out for their first mountain bike ride ever, and I think I may have shown all three of them the light. One left swearing he was going to actually put his fat bike to use, and the other two spent the rest of the evening picking my brain about what to look for in a mountain bike, and saying "I can really see how this would improve my bike handling on the road bike." I give it a year before they hang up their skinnies and swap the power meter for a rear suspension :)