Cycle of Hope

When you think of a bicycle team, you don’t normally think of the term “slow and steady.”

But in September, Holly Springs-based TeamCBC will reach a major milestone: After 15 years of participating in the Bike MS fundraising ride in New Bern, the team will have raised $1 million to fight multiple sclerosis.

“This is very significant; it’s definitely a rare achievement,” said Dani Clayton, development director with the Greater Carolinas chapter of the National MS Society. “TeamCBC has made a huge impact on that event.”

Bob Oderkirk, team captain, agrees.

Team captain Bob Oderkirk is a cycling evangelist, trying to get more people on bikes. “If you get people out on their bikes, they think this is fun. Once they start meeting other people, then it’s really fun,” he says.

“The fundraising total is pretty impressive,” he said. “People don’t have a lot of money, so they give what they can. Lots of small donations add up.”

The achievement comes on the heels of another. The team, which is sponsored by Carolina Brewing Company of Holly Springs, collected the most money at the 2014 New Bern fundraiser, netting $140,800.

The cycling event is the MS Society’s largest North Carolina fundraiser, and among the top 20 fundraisers for MS nationally. Last year at the two-day event 1,945 participants, including 1,660 riders, raised $1.8 million.

C.J. Rice, president of TeamCBC, says part of the team’s success is just numbers.

“The minimum to participate in Bike MS is $300 in fundraising,” she said. “If you can get 150 people on your team at $300 each, you’re making steps up. And some of those members raise much more.”

Martin Boyle, left, and Randy Carter enjoy good beer and company after their ride.

TeamCBC has more than 1,100 people on its roster, with about 200 to 300 active members. At the end of August, the team had 166 riders registered for the New Bern event, and those riders had raised more than $61,500. It will likely be the biggest team taking part in the event in 2015, as it has been for the last several years.

Slow Start

In 2000, Greg Shuck, co-founder of the Holly Springs brewery, had no inkling of what was to come when his buddy Cyril Sagan suggested he sponsor a cycling team to raise money for MS.

The cause was personal for the men. Shuck’s girlfriend, Maura, who he later married, and Sagan’s girlfriend’s mother both had the often-disabling disease.

When the team started, Greg Shuck hadn’t ridden in years. “I didn’t even own a bike at the time,” he says. Today he rides a custom bike given to him by the team, an appreciation gift for years of support from Shuck and the Carolina Brewing Company.

Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide, according to the National MS Society. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

That first year TeamCBC had about a dozen people, all wearing the brewery logo. The team remained a loose collection of friends and family until 2007, when Oderkirk signed up to ride.

The solidly built Oderkirk, with his ponytail and Birkenstocks, brings to mind Jerry Garcia rather than Lance Armstrong. But behind the laid-back exterior, he is fiercely dedicated to cycling and TeamCBC.

At one time, Oderkirk was working more than 40 hours a week on team business, although he now spends about 25 hours a week on the team, in addition to a full-time IT job.

“The success of the team is all due to Bob Oderkirk,” Shuck said. “His energy and his organization skills have grown it to the monstrosity that it is.”

TeamCBC was mostly getting together in the summer, but Oderkirk wanted to ride more than a few times a year. He invited other cyclists to ride with him, and eventually started setting up group rides.

By 2009, the team was meeting weekly for Sunday Brewery Rides. After many group rides, riders come in, pack their stuff and disappear, says Oderkirk. He wanted something a little more neighborly.

“We stagger rides so everyone comes in at the same time,” said Oderkirk. “We hang out and drink beer. The rides are designed so everyone has a choice. Get back, have a brew, eat some food and make some friends.”

Rice says that is one reason the team has been so successful.

“There’s such good camaraderie,” she said. “When everybody hangs out there are so many community connections through the people on the team. It’s just a big group of friends and family.”

Down the Road

Oderkirk is passionate about growing the sport and educating riders to be safe.

“We train how to do pace lines; we teach how to ride together,” he said. “Anybody can come out and ride with us. We make sure everybody has fun, but also we try to instill those skills. If riders aren’t confident, they aren’t stable. We build confidence, then we build skills.”

Team president C.J. Rice, left, sells merchandise after a Sunday Brewery Ride. She and other volunteers sell gear, pick up injured riders on the course, or sell food after the rides. So even non-riders can be part of the team.

In 2013, TeamCBC became a 501(c)3 in order to raise money for other charities. Although the group is still focused on raising money for MS, it has also partnered with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the American Diabetes Association.

“We want to be more socially accountable to our community,” Rice said.

Shuck would also like to see the team move beyond cycling and the involvement of its founders.

“The goal is to build something up, so even if you step away, it keeps going,” he said.
He is amazed and overwhelmed by how far the team has come.

“We don’t have matching funds; I can’t write a check for $10,000,” he said. “It’s a bunch of ordinary people coming together over bicycling and beer.”

But it has really meant a lot to his wife, Maura, Shuck says, to see the money the group has raised over the years. The couple is thankful that Maura’s MS has been in remission for the last 10 years, but they have seen people who used to ride in the New Bern event who now are unable to walk.

“The feeling I get just to be part of this is pretty awesome,” Rice said. “It’s hard work and it does take up a lot of your time. The accomplishments as a team are so exciting. I get a little tingly when the MS Society puts out news of a new treatment or drug. We don’t do it for the accolades; we just want to do it.”

Even Oderkirk says he had no idea how successful the team could be.  

“I had no idea how big this would become. I just wanted to ride, have fun, and raise a few dollars.”

Bike MS:Historic New Bern Ride 2015

Date: Sept. 12-13

Location: Union Point Park, New Bern

How to help: Donations are accepted up to 30 days after event. See or for details.

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