Around 5,000 people took to bicycles Sunday to raise money for research and treatment for multiple sclerosis. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Even before sunrise, cyclists were gearing up for a long ride.
"My favorite part is coming out of the tunnel at the bottom of the battery and coming up when the sun is shining, rising over the Brooklyn Bridge," said one rider. "It's magnificent."
That's just one possible route. Some 5,000 cyclists hit the road Sunday, some taking a 30-mile loop around the city, others opting for 55 or 100 miles, heading through the Holland Tunnel as far as Rockland County and back.
"In one word: beautiful," said one rider. "Awesome. That's another word."
They do it because they love cycling, but also, in many cases, because they love someone who has multiple sclerosis.
"My beautiful wife, Jana," said one rider. "She's fighting MS, but she smiles all the time."
The disease affects roughly 2.3 million people worldwide. Women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed than men.
"Fatigue is one of the biggest battles of every day," said Jana Harasek, who is living with MS. "And the pain in the different sections if the body."
Dianna Fiore Radoslovich knows those feelings all too well, but she refuses to let them put the brakes on her life. She's tackled this ride three times since being diagnosed.
"It's mentally draining because I know I used to be so active, and now, everything's a little bit more taxing," she said. "But once I'm done, I feel very accomplished."
This year's event if expected to raise about $3 million. Some of that goes to research, but much if it stays here to support local programs and services for people living with MS.
"Counseling programs, educational programs for newly diagnosed people and much, much more," said Liz Samurovich of Bike MS NYC.
Even as she supported cyclists at the finish line, Evelyn Kaczmarkiewicz said it's their support that makes all the difference as she continues her own uphill journey.
"Feels great," she said. "I was amazed that I saw so many people doing this, and it struck me as how many people have it, that they know somebody with MS."
For more information, visit bikemsnyc.org.