MS 150 Bike Tour returns to Forest Grove

cycling -- Pacific University will once again be home to riders as they converge on Forest Grove for the annual fundraising bike tour

For the third straight year, some of the top cyclists in the Pacific Northwest will converge on Forest Grove for the MS 150, an annual cycling and fundraising event that benefits the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Riders will be challenged on a two-day, 150-mile bike tour through the scenic wine country and woodlands of Washington County. A variety of different routes - ranging from 17 to 104 miles - will be offered to riders on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as a bounty of other activities.

Pacific University will welcome riders to its campus for the third year in a row, allowing participants to camp out and enjoy accommodations in the heart of Forest Grove.

'Pacific has been great. We've gotten great support from not only the university, but also the city of Forest Grove and the entire community,' said Jeff Pazdalski, the assistant director of development for the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 'We really couldn't ask for a better host city.'

The bike tour, celebrating its 22nd anniversary, will kick off on Friday night with rider registration and a VIP reception, which will be attended by George Hincapie, one of the country's premier cyclists and a Team Discovery Channel teammate of Lance Armstrong during all seven of his Tour de France victories.

On the first day of the MS 150, riders can choose between six different distance options that head south from Forest Grove and cut through the rolling hills and vineyards of Washington and Yamhill Counties. On the second day riders can choose between 25- and 75-mile options that head north of Forest Grove through the woodlands and rural areas of Washington County.

All the distance options will feature rest stops and full ride support, on average between 10-12 miles apart. Support vehicles will also circulate the routes to assist riders and provide mechanical and medical assistance.

Last year, the MS 150 raised over $500,000 for the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which serves around 6,300 people in Oregon and southwest Washington afflicted with the disease.

Event organizers are hoping to top that amount this year with the most successful - and most ambitious - MS 150 bike tour ever. The goal this year is to raise $600,000.

Pazdalski said the bike tour already has 825 registered riders, with another 25-75 expected to sign up before the event begins on Saturday. It is the third straight year Forest Grove has hosted the MS 150 and the third straight year the event has set a record for registered riders.