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    Knights Ride for a Cure

    Georgia ‘Knight Riders’ take up a grueling MS challenge

    For the 2018 ride, Knight Riders representing Council 4358 included (from left) Stuart Brady, Lou Jacobs, Chris Chambers, Chris Kingsbury and David Underwood.


    A hardy group of three men calling themselves the Knight Riders joined nearly 500 other cyclists for a “peachy” ride through the Georgia countryside last October to raise funds for a cure for the devastating disease of multiple sclerosis.

    The Knight Riders, who represent Father Thomas O’Reilly Council 4358 in Decatur, pedaled their way in the “Bike MS: Atlanta Peach Ride” held in LaGrange last October, contributing their combined $2,685 in pledges toward the more than $300,000 raised in the event.

    In various lineups, the men who comprise the Knight Riders have taken up the ride annually for more than a decade. Christopher Chambers, who co-founded the Knight Riders over a decade ago, recalls how the tradition came about. “I believe it was 2006, and I was doing the MS Bike Ride in order to see Herschel Walker, the famous running back for the University of Georgia when we were the national champs in 1980,” Chambers said. “Walker was a celebrity rider and was the draw for the ride.” (Walker was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999.)

    A brother Knight, Chris Harvey, was also riding in the event, was inspired to help raise funds for a cure because his mother had MS. “I suggested that we form a group of Knights riding bikes, and call ourselves the Knight Riders,” Chambers recalled, and so it began the following year. Harvey’s mother eventually lost her life to MS, but the Knight Riders have continued to raise money for the cause ever since.

    Numbers vary, but the core riders joining Chambers include Knights Lou Jacobs, Stuart Brady, and Chris Kingsbury. Another regular, though not a Catholic, is Dave Underwood. Chambers is the only member who has participated in the ride every year since the Knight Riders were formed. For the 2019 event, he was joined by Kingsbury and Underwood.

    The Atlanta Peach Ride is set up in routes of 35 miles, 65 miles, or 100 miles, and riders can choose their routes over the course of two days up to a total of 165 miles. “When you ride 100 miles in a day, it’s called a ‘century,’” Chambers said. “One year we all rode the century.” Kingsbury and Jacobs ride the century often. Chambers said he usually rides 65 miles on Saturday and 35 miles on Sunday.

    That makes for a grueling weekend, especially for older men. Being ready for such intense physical activity is key. “Dave and I prepare by drinking beer,” Chambers said half-jokingly. “Last year I literally did no preparation. The ride was the first time I’d been on a bike that year.” He drank the “magical chemistry” of pickle juice at every break to keep going. “The electrolytes or salt or whatever made it possible for me to ride without bonking.”

    Despite not riding much in recent years, Chambers said he swims, lift weights, and takes brisk walks with his dog to keep fit. “I’m trying to ward off death by staying fit,” he said. Some of the other Knight Riders are serious bikers: Jacobs rides his bike seven miles to work every day, while Kingsbury rides ten miles from his home to the iconic Stone Mountain and back.

    And it’s all for a good cause: over the 13 years the Knight Riders have participated as a team, they have raised some $18,000 for MS research.

    It’s the only event the Knight Riders take part in as a team, but Chambers hopes similar rides sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – some 80 are held annually in various U.S. locations -- might catch on with other councils across the nation. He also envisions the Knight Riders taking on other worthy fundraising causes as well.

    “It has been my hope that this ride could become a national event for the Knights in America,” he said. “I'd also like to see if we could do a ride to help fund pro-life groups or to raise money to buy ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers.”



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