Five Port Macquarie residents will join the annual MS Sydney to the 'Gong bike ride on Sunday, November 3.
The 82 kilometre ride takes in some breathtaking scenery while raising much-needed funds into research for multiple sclerosis.
Tens of thousands of riders have hit the road over the last 38 years in what is described as a legendary ride.
Local team members are, Eileen Gainsford, Clifford Hoeft, Greg Trotter, Marty Brown and Sally Moriarty. The five are part of the Westpac/St George/BT Team this year of which Ms Gainsford is on the committee.
Each of the riders has an individual fundraising effort underway and you can still make a donation.
There are about 100 participants in the team.
For Mr Hoeft, the ride is taking on a greater meaning: last year he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
He said the fundraising would support people living with MS and also continue research into the disease.
An Ironman competitor and winner of the Camden Haven Beach to Brother, he says coping with the disease has been challenging.
"It has been some time since I've been on the bike but I am confident of getting to the end of this ride," he said.
"Last year I was diagnosed with MS and this came after many years of mystery illnesses that were put down to virus causes.
"But during last year's Ironman in Port Macquarie I had an episode. I was unable to finish the course.
"Subsequent tests were performed which confirmed I had MS.
"Since then, it has been really challenging - I knew nothing about MS prior to this," he said.
Mr Hoeft says he deals with chronic pain, memory and vision problems, paralysis and muscle spascity.
This can vary from day to day depending on how the brain is reacting to the damage that has already occurred as the signalling from the brain to the body gets damaged.
"This has been a real journey of discovery about learning how to cope with the disease," he said.
This has been a real journey of discovery about learning how to cope with the disease.
He praised the MS organisation for its great work in connecting people.
"This has been quite a challenging journey. Not only accepting this condition but also letting people know I have it," he said.
"I initially struggled trying to work out how to tell people.
"I didn't want sympathy; I wanted understanding and it has been a great opportunity because I hope I can extend my network and connect with other people suffering this condition.
"We can share our knowledge and share how we live with this disease each day.
"Fatigue is quite severe and you tend to spend a lot of time closed off.
"There is also the dual nature of this disease too. While I am able I will be as active as I can be and this will make it easier for people to identify me with the condition I have.
"The other side is that MS can make you feel very isolated."
Mr Hoeft said he was taking this as a learning opportunity to bring back knowledge on MS to Port Macquarie.
"My goal, after the ride, will be to organise an MS group here in Port Macquarie," he added.
He urged people to get behind the ride and make a contribution to the team or one of the Port Macquarie riders.
The MS Sydney to the 'Gong bike ride includes some stunning natural scenery including the Royal National Park, the incredible ocean views from Stanwell Tops, ride over the breathtaking Sea Cliff Bridge before crossing the finish line in Wollongong amongst a backdrop of surf, sun and sand.
To make a donation to the team go to this website.
More details on the ride can be found on this website.
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