LAURINBURG — While its title refers to the $18,000 it raised to construct affordable homes, Habitat for Humanity’s 13th Annual Bike to Build event was equally productive for the 100 participants it sent pedalling across the starting line.
Cyclists left the Dulin Center at Scotland Memorial Hospital at 8:30 a.m. to traverse Scotland County — through Gibson, Laurel Hill and Wagram — on the event’s 64-mile route.
“It’s a really long ride; in fact usually there aren’t many people here when I get back in — but I’m going to go for it,” said Glenn Crossley of Charlotte.
Crossley and his wife Sallie, who elected to take part in the 32-mile ride, are Laurinburg natives. On Saturday, they returned to take part in Bike to Build for the third time.
“The terrain is a lot flatter than where we ride in Charlotte, but I think the nicest thing is just the openness, there’s not much traffic, it’s good to go from the city and get out into the country — just get out and ride the roads we road when we were growing up,” Crossley said.
Scotland County Sheriff’s deputies, Laurinburg police, and Habitat support volunteers set out even earlier than the cyclists to ensure smooth passage along their designated routes.
Before cyclists departed at 8:30 a.m. — and again at 9 a.m. for the shorter rides — Habitat Board President Jim Hunt directed them to follow arrows color-coordinated to each route and said how to signal for SAG assistance if needed.
Hunt also explained the event’s importance in supporting Habitat’s mission.
“We’re proud of what Habitat for Humanity of Scotland County does here in the community, and you folks are a big part of it,” he said. “Without this ride, it would be hard for us to do what we do. It takes about $90,000 to build an affordable, clean, energy-efficient home for a family today, and this is a big part of making that happen.”
Bike to Build drew both participants in pursuit of a leisurely scenic ride and dedicated athletes like Wendy Christie of Lumberton, who logged 64 miles of training for a June triathlon.
“It will be our longest ride, so we’re excited to do that and to support Habitat for Humanity because it’s a good local cause,” she said. “We hope it takes less than four and a half hours. We have a coach out of Wilmington, Without Limits, and she’s given us a structure of how fast to go and how she wants us to do the ride.”
The tour drew many repeat participants, who have made attending Bike to Build a tradition due to its clockwork organization. Bristol McCormick of Lumberton began cycling as an engaging form of exercise, and stepped up for this year’s Bike to Build from 21 miles to 32.
“Hopefully next year it will be 64,” he said. “It’s the health benefits, cardiovascular benefits, all-around health, low impact, and how I feel. It’s an investment just like anything else. When you start seeing the benefits you love what you’re doing.”
Having joined the organization in January, Habitat Director Chris Carpenter finished the day confident in the success of his first Bike to Build and appreciative of the 50 volunteers who manned the eight rest stops and starting base at the hospital.
“The weather was beautiful and the participants had a great time,” he said. “I was pleased with the number of volunteers that came out and helped at the rest stops and at the Dulin Center; they’re an amazing group of people.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.