SAN ANTONIO - An anticipated 3,500 cyclists will ride toward a cure for multiple sclerosis in the 19th Annual Valero Bike to the Beach, presented by H-E-B, the weekend of Oct. 4 through 5.

This year's event, a two-day, 160-mile ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, has a set goal to raise $1.7 million to support research to end MS and fund programs through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter. As of Aug. 13, 2,194 cyclists had registered for the ride, marking 63 percent of the chapter's participation goal.

Cyclists start Oct. 4 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio and finish at Whataburger Field after crossing the Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi Oct. 5.

The Harbor Bridge is the second tallest bridge in Texas, standing 138 feet above the Corpus Christi channel. Cyclists may ride, walk or be assisted over the bridge. Riders will overnight in Beeville at Coastal Bend College.

The new finish line location at Whataburger Field will feature a post-ride festival open to all Corpus Christi residents and indicative of this family-oriented ride.

Riders as young as 8 years of age may ride tandem with a responsible adult; independent riders must be a minimum of 10 years old. Several new initiatives have been put in place for this year's ride to ensure the safety of all participants, including a partnership with the League of American Bicyclists.

In 2007, the Valero Bike to the Beach raised $1.6 to fund research and programs for the estimated 20,000 individuals and their families affected by MS in 174 Texas counties served by the Lone Star Chapter.

The ride moved from the Hill Country to Corpus Christi in 1993, effecting the name change to "Bike to the Beach." Cycling teams continue to outdo themselves in dollars raised. The 2007 top fundraising team, and the event's title sponsor, Velo Valero, was comprised of 242 riders who raised more than $220,000.

The Bike MS: Valero Bike to the Beach Ride 2008 is one of three fundraising rides hosted by the National MS Society, Lone Star Chapter in Texas.

Visit www.bikemstexas.org to register for the bike ride, donate to support a rider, or volunteer in one of hundreds of positions within 30 specialty areas. There is a $40 registration fee until Sept. 1 and a minimum $300 pledge commitment.

The registration fee will increase to $50 after Sept. 1, and registration closes on Oct. 3 at 10 p.m.

Direct telephone inquiries to the Lone Star Chapter's South Texas Regional Office at (210) 494-5531 or toll-free at (800) 344-4867.