After raising more than $22,000 over the weekend, Habitat for Humanity’s ninth annual “Bike to Build” bicycle ride has been declared a success by event organizers.
“We consider (the total raised) a really good result,” said Scotland County Habitat Executive Director Susan Covington following the ride, which attracted 130 cyclists to the Scotland Memorial Hospital Dulin Center Saturday morning for the start of the four-course event.
The competitive 64-mile trek, which took riders to Old Wire Road in Laurel Hill to the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport and back to the Dulin center, launched at 8:30 a.m. and the other three shorter races all started at 9 a.m.
The event, which first took place in 2003 in an effort to raise extra money for habitat home construction in Scotland County, attracted both the young and old alike.
Former school administrator Ray Oxendine took on the 64-mile course and, at age 75, was the oldest rider in the event, while children as young as 17-months rode along with their parents in the shorter, recreational races.
Among the other riders contributing to the event’s diversity was paralyzed cyclist Mark Herndon.
At the suggestion of a friend, Herndon made the trip down from Durham to participate in Bike to Build for the first time, and enjoyed himself so much that he plans to make the drive again next year.
“I will definitely be back,” said Herndon, who uses a specially designed bike which allows him to pedal with his hands from a horizontal position.
Herndon uses cycling to cross-train for wheelchair rugby, a sport so brutal that it was once officially called “murderball” by its Canadian designers.
“Cycling is good training, and I am starting to get back into it now after finishing the wheelchair rugby season,” said Herndon, who recently competed in the national wheelchair rugby competition.
Upon completion of the course, many cyclists made note of how conveniently flat the route through Scotland County is.
For no cyclist are the county’s relatively level roadways appreciated more than for Herndon. “Even these roads can be challenging at times for me,” said Herndon, whose arms and hands do all the work.
“We really did have excellent support this year from our riders and from the volunteers,” noted Covington, praising the 75 volunteers that helped make the event possible.
While the funds raised this year were nearly identical to those raised for last year’s “Bike to Build” event, Covington is pleased with the results.
“Even though the economy has not improved, we still raised the same total, and that really is great,” said Covington.
Donning a cyclists’ shirt, U.S. Congressman Larry Kissell, who was scheduled to ride in the event until an unfortunate bicycle tire blowout Saturday morning, served as the official starter for each of the races.
Kissell rode his bicycle to Scotland County from Biscoe earlier in the morning, and said that he deeply regretted not being able to participate.
“It is such a good cause, and I am sincerely disappointed that I will not be able to ride,” said Kissell.