The bicycle ride now known as the BP MS150 has taken place every year since 1985. On Saturday morning, thousands of riders will make their way toward Austin from three different Houston-area locations to raise money for multiple sclerosis research and programs.
Mark Neagli is with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which receives the raised funds. He says the entire ride is 150 to 180 miles long, depending on the starting location. Riders spend the night in La Grange.
"The first riders will probably get into La Grange some time around noon or one o'clock, and the last few riders will probably get in there between five and six."
He says about the same is true for the arrival in Austin on Sunday. Typically, there are some who are more competitive and train for the ride. But most participants are casual riders, Neagli says. The route itself is challenging at times because of the rolling hills, but also picturesque. And this year, the weather is playing along.
"We are on the typical county roads and farm-to-market roads, and we do pay it special attention that on the intersections that we have a law enforcement plan in place and that's one of the things that we're really well known for is the fact that we have proper traffic control and security along the way."
And speaking of security, Neagli says since Monday’s bombings in Boston, organizers have been in constant communication with state and local officials along the route.
"You’ll see a little bit more of a heightened level of security along the route and in the main locations at the starts, lunch, overnight and in Austin around the Capitol."
Assistant Chief Mark Eisenman heads the Houston Police Department’s Homeland Security Command. He says while there's no indication of any type of threat for the BP MS150, security will be tighter than during past years.
"There will be increased presence of police officers and in addition we will be looking for some things that we've learned through this unfortunate incident."
He says usually traffic flow and crowd control are the main concerns for police during the ride.
Riders who want to participate can still sign up for the event as long as they pay the $100 registration fee and the minimum pledge amount of $400 up front. Organizers hope to raise $18 million.
You can register at the BP MS 150 Packet Pick-up and Expo on Friday, April 19, 2 - 9 p.m. at the Omni Westside Hotel at 13210 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX 77079.
For more information about the ride, click here.