Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Charity Bike Ride Raises Money for Education

From left, bicyclists Steve Luke, Jim Frith, Brad Kindema,
Jennifer Frith, Dean Jarrett, and Marlin Yoder prepare
to begin the Tour de Scholar ride Saturday at Jack Dalton Park.

Article by AMANDA BUCK - Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

During the first Tour de Scholar Charity Bike Ride last weekend, 22 riders traveled three courses and raised more than $2,000 for the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s Education Foundation.

Although the ride was small in terms of the number of riders, organizer Sharon Shepherd said the event, which the foundation plans to hold annually, pedaled off to a successful start.
“For a first-time event, I was very pleased,” said Shepherd, deputy director of the chamber. “The ride was positive for the riders,” and she received good feedback from them, she said.
The event began Saturday morning at Jack Dalton Park. Bicyclists had three routes to choose from: a 5-mile course, a 25-mile course and a 60-mile course.

Two riders — a man and his 8-year-old son — did the 5-miler, in which they rode around the park’s track eight and a half times, Shepherd said. Sixteen riders chose the 25-mile course, which went through Dyers Store, Martinsville and back to Jack Dalton. Another four completed the 60-mile course, which took them through Martinsville, Fontaine, Ridgeway, Spencer, Sanville, Bassett Forks and Collinsville.

That course took the riders about four hours to complete, Shepherd said.
Among those who completed the 60-mile ride was Charlie Roach of Henry County. Roach, who has completed rides throughout Virginia and North Carolina and even in New York City, said the support riders received Saturday was remarkable.

“I’ve been on a lot of supported rides, which means you have people patrolling the route looking for problems, but I have never been on one with escorts,” Roach said. “I have never had that good of support on any ride, anywhere.”

Ricky “Big Bird” Holcomb of Big Bird’s Big Twins in Ridgeway organized volunteer motorcycle escorts to ride ahead of the bicyclists and help smooth the way for them. They were W.C. Wagner, John Richardson, Darrian Kammermad and Jessie Oakes. Roach said the 60-mile course was not easy, but he was glad he did it. “It was very challenging,” he said. “There were several climbs in it that were about all I could handle. But since I survived it, it was good.”
Riders who did the two longer courses paid $35 entry fees, while those on the short course paid $10 each. Shepherd said the rider fees covered the cost of the event, leaving money contributed by several sponsors free to go to the foundation.

The foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, funds an eight-month youth leadership development program for area high school students, a new faculty event for area educators and Partnership In Excellence grants that award teachers up to $500 for classroom use, Shepherd said. Going into the ride, which she said was the first of its kind in Henry County, Shepherd hoped to pull off a well-organized event that was safe and fun for the bicyclists. With rest stops manned by volunteers, refreshments and pizza after the ride and no safety issues, Shepherd said she met her goal.

“This was the key to getting participants to talk about the event to their fellow cyclists and to plan on riding next year,” she said. Roach, for one, plans to do just that. “I would definitely do it again,” he said. “Matter of fact, I wish they would have more of that type of ride around here.”
Sponsors and supporters for the event, which raised $2,029.57, were: BB&T, Le Bleu (Lawrence Distributing), Ridgeway Signs, Activate Martinsville-Henry County, Community Pride, the chamber, MURA and Henry County Parks and Recreation.

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