For 12 years, the Culpeper Cycling Century has attracted cyclists to the area with the promise of exercise and beautiful scenery.
The event, which took place on Saturday with the Culpeper Baptist Church serving as its home base, offers participants the option of traversing a 30, 60 or 100-mile trail through Culpeper and the surrounding area. It’s hosted by the Culpeper County Department of Parks and Recreation, but those involved with putting it together will tell you that it takes a great team effort to make it possible.
“We have roughly 25 to 30 volunteers that help us out with this event,” said Tabitha Riley, programs and facilities supervisor for Parks and Recreation. “None of this is possible without them.”
One of those volunteers is Dennis Gordon, who’s been involved with the event off and on since its inception in 2008.
“I did the first couple of these,” said Gordon, who helped provide participants with post-course snacks on Saturday. “I stopped for a few years due to family reasons, but when [Parks and Rec] contacted me and asked me to come back and do it again, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I have friends who participate in the event as well, so I’m happy to help Parks and Rec and the community out in any way I can.”
John Pope, the president of the Culpeper Amateur Radio Association, or CARA for short, said his organization enjoys taking part in the event for a variety of reasons.
“Something like this lets us get out in the field and test our equipment to make sure it works correctly,” said Pope, referencing CARA’s provision of radio equipment so Riley and others at home base can readily communicate with those at each of the event’s five rest stops. “Being able to do that and help Parks and Rec and the community out in the process works out really well for everyone.”
In addition to its various volunteers, Saturday’s event had the backing of 13 sponsors, including Braggs Corner; Culpeper Baptist Church; K Art and Design, Inc.; Raw Rev; Miller’s Supplies at Work; Davies, Barrell, Lewellyn and Edwards, PLC.; Fray, Hudson, Clark and Walker, LLP Attorneys; Friendship Heights; Gayheart and Willis, P.C.; Jefferson Homebuilders, Inc.; Merchants Grocery Company; Mills Dayton and Company, P.C. and VeloConcepts.
Proceeds from the event’s registration fees will go directly to the Culpeper Recreation Foundation. Proceeds from previous years went toward construction of the Bright Spot Inclusive Playground, as well as new concession stands at the Culpeper Sports Complex.
“It’s good for the community,” Riley said of the fundraising. “All of the funds from the event will be sent directly to the foundation, and they’ll go toward whatever the next big project is.”
Riley stated that more than 250 cyclists registered for the event, with approximately 230 participating. By comparison, the first event in 2008 had just 45 participants.
Jorge Echeverria, a Maryland resident, made the two-hour trek from his home to take part in the ride for a second consecutive year.
“The scenery is the main reason why I like doing it,” he said. “It’s just beautiful out here, and the weather is great.”
Echeverria’s friend, Edwin Lopez, is a Culpeper resident who’s perpetually amazed by the local backdrop on display during the event.
“I love the views,” he said with a smile. “That’s why I tell my friends about this event.”
Elaine Chandler, a Warrenton resident, took part in the event for the first time this year because she and her husband recently developed an interest in distance riding.
“We started doing distance rides a few years ago,” she said. “A friend told me about this one, so we figured we’d give it a try. It was fun.”
Alexandria’s Lisa Quandt said the freedom the event provides participants to select a distance that best suits their individual needs is what sets it apart from other cycling events.
“I do this mainly for the exercise,” said Quandt, who participated last year as well. “It’s like a low-key race, but it offers lots of options, depending on your fitness level.”
Riley said preparations are already being made for next year’s Culpeper Cycling Century, which is slated to take place on Oct. 3, 2020.