Cyclists take part in Great Berry Ride
Cyclists gathered Saturday morning at the Patterson Farm Market on Caldwell Road to take a ride for charity through parts of the western and southern Rowan countryside.
The ride was planned to benefit both the Rowan County United Way and Catawba College athletics, and ride director Michelle Patterson said, “If we had ordered the perfect morning for this event, I don’t know if it would have been any different than what we got. It was a bright and cool early morning that gradually changed to a warm mid-day. That was just what everyone seemed to want. It was just the perfect morning to be out on the farm and in the rural countryside.”
More than 70 riders from as far away as Ohio took part in one of the three ride distances of 25K, 75K, and 100K. Each one included some hills and some flat stretches, perfect for a training ride or just a pleasant morning spent cycling with friends. One of the popular themes, at least for the local riders, was that the bike ride would serve as training for the Buck Hurley Triathlon in Salisbury on May 5.
Greg Ritchie said, “The Patterson family always does such great things for the community. It was good to see one of our local farms hosting an event like this, plus it was close to home for me. I am going to participate in the Buck Hurley Triathlon and wanted to complete a good bike ride in preparation for that.”
Tim Safrit was pleased as well, “I am a Catawba graduate, so it was good to do something to help them out. Cycling is my thing. This was my first organized event, and it was a great course and ride. There was no pressure, except what I put on myself. I rode the 25K this year, and I plan to do the 75K next year.”
Making the long trip from Oak Harbor, Ohio, was Pastor John Stirewalt. He said, “I was born in this area and actually worked for Patterson Farm from 1976-77. Those were some great times working for Carl and Frank Patterson. It was so good to be back here and ride bikes in the area. It was a great route and wonderful for me to get outside. I did most of my training inside over the winter to avoid the lake effect snows and winds from the Lake Erie area. My sister, Lisa Dove, also rode today. We are here to visit my parents. We will definitely be back next year.”
Patterson saw the planning process as a collaborative effort. She said, “We have been meeting for five months to pull this off. This was the first organized charity ride in Rowan in recent history and the planning committee wanted to do it right. Craig Turnbull, assistant athletic director at Catawba College, and Jackie Harris from the Rowan County United Way got the ball rolling. Leonard Wood, Greg Dunn and Eric Phillips all chipped in with their cycling expertise and Mike Miller helped us to market the Great Berry Ride. The only thing that I wish could have been different was that we still don’t quite have ripe strawberries. But we will have them next weekend. Hopefully a lot of the riders today will be out here again on their bikes and stop in for fresh strawberries.”
First to finish the 75K ride was Dr. Lee Johnson of Salisbury. He said, “It was a fantastic ride today at the Great Berry Ride. The weather was perfect and the scenery was spectacular. It was a very organized ride for the first one and Patterson Farm is a perfect venue for such an event. I definitely see this ride growing and becoming very popular.”
United Way Campaign Chairman and avid exercise enthusiast Greg Dunn was also very pleased. He added, “It was a fun day for cyclists to enjoy Rowan County agricultural beauty and benefit both Catawba College and the Rowan County United Way. I was especially appreciative of Michelle Patterson and their farm hosting the event and making us more aware of agribusiness locally. We were very blessed to have great weather and safe rides for everyone, and we look forward with enthusiasm to next year’s Great Berry Ride.”
The Great Berry Ride was not a race and encouraged all riders of any level to participate, but plaques for the first finishers, both male and female, at each distance were awarded. Top 25K finishers were Lisa Dove and Greg Ritchie. Leading the 75K events were Rebecca Lippard and Dr. Lee Johnson. First to the finish in the 100K distance were Cornelia Chamley and Garrett Schreier. Schreirer just moved to the area from Pennsylvania.
All riders and volunteers received commemorative Great Berry Ride shirts and a post-race meal and snacks provided by the Salvation Army and the United Way. Rest stops were located at Grace Lutheran Church, Enochville Elementary School, and Knox Methodist Church.
Sponsors for the event included Cloninger Ford, Wallace and Graham, Caniche, Novant Health, Bank of North Carolina, Skinny Wheels Bicycle Shop, Miller Davis, F&M Bank, The Salvation Army, and the Salisbury Rowan Runners.
A complete list of participants and their times can be found at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org