That will be the case Saturday, April 21, when a few hundred bicyclists saddle up to ride their way into the hearts of future Habitat homeowners in the third annual Toyota of Cleveland Bike to Build fundraiser whose three courses will start and end at Bradley Central High School.
Registration fee currently is $55 per person through April 19. On April 20-21, the fee goes to $75.
Riders are asked to raise at least $100 per person in pledges and sponsorships, according to Annie Kinworthy, community development coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland. This year, Kinworthy is leading the charge for rider and corporate sponsorship recruitment.
About 10 sponsors have signed on so far including Toyota of Cleveland which is serving as the primary sponsor for the second consecutive year, as well as Shane’s Rib Shack and Deli Boys who are the food sponsors. This is the second year of involvement by Deli Boys and Shane’s has been an active part of Bike to Build for all three years.
According to the Habitat website, a few other sponsors — and more are expected to sign on within the next month — are Scott’s Bikes, First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland, Lee Cycling Club, Regions Bank, Pioneer Credit Company and Detour DJ & Audio.
The Bike to Build goal is to raise enough funds to construct two Habitat for Humanity homes in Cleveland. That’s a total of $80,000. To date, enough has been raised — $40,000 — for one house so the local Habitat affiliate and volunteers are halfway there.
“We knew it was a lofty goal going in, but because of the community’s acceptance of Bike to Build we feel like the sky’s the limit,” Kinworthy said. “We have to aim high, but over the years Cleveland and Bradley County has always been there for Habitat for Humanity.”
The fundraiser’s needs to this point are simple. They can be counted on three fingers — more volunteers, more corporate sponsors and more riders.
The event is off to a breezy start, but more work remains. To date, more than 200 riders have signed up for the rain-or-shine event. Last year’s bike rides attracted about 400, but Kinworthy stressed the event is still a month away so cycling enthusiasts have plenty of time to sign up by visiting the agency’s website at www.habitatofcleveland.org.
The 2011 Bike to Build also attracted a whopping 282 volunteers. Just as many are needed this year, especially as turn directors; that is, those who are stationed at intersections to direct cyclists along the correct route.
“We still need a lot of turn directors whose role is to keep the cyclists steered in the right direction,” Kinworthy offered. Volunteers can expect one pre-event training session and then about half-a-day’s work on Saturday.
On-site event registration will take place at 7:30 a.m. at BCHS; however, in order to smooth the process Bike to Build is encouraging participants to register early on Friday, April 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Toyota of Cleveland.
“All riders are encouraged to check in on Friday if possible,” Kinworthy said. “We will have registration the morning of the event starting at 7:30, but early registration really helps to smooth out the process and cuts down on the length of lines, and wait times, on Saturday morning. We really urge riders to take advantage of the early registration Friday at Toyota of Cleveland.”
All riders are required to wear a helmet. Bike to Build encourages riders also to carry IDs, emergency contact information and a cellphone if it is available. Youth under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Riders are invited to participate individually or as teams.
“How big should a team be?” Kinworthy asked rhetorically. “As big as you’d like! If you and a friend like to ride together, partner up to raise your sponsorship. Have a group of 20? Bring it on!”
It’s all about having some fun, doing it safely and raising funds to help one of the community’s most respected nonprofit organizations. The Habitat outreach has been especially noticeable over the past year in the drive to help in Bradley County’s recovery from the tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011.
Riders will have a choice of three courses that have been designed by Brian Welch, an avid bicyclist who is a Cleveland resident and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.
The courses include:
n A 20K (12.4 miles) which includes 269 feet of elevation with one SAG stop at Mile 7; start time for this course is 9:30 a.m.
n A 50K (31.07 miles) which includes 787 feet of elevation with one SAG stop at Mile 21; start time is 9 a.m.
n A 100K (62 miles) which includes 1,476 feet of elevation with two SAG stops; start time is 8:30 a.m.
As an avid bicyclist, Welch said he generally looks for three components in a course, including 1) a challenging route; 2) varied scenery like countryside; and 3) just about anywhere in the immediate area because “you can’t beat Cleveland, Tennessee for a bicycle ride.”
Welch has participated in many community rides. Those most favored by cycling enthusiasts are the events where its backers are sincere in their mission, he said.
“On every ride you’re looking for people who really believe in the cause and those who are really glad you (the volunteer riders) came,” Welch cited. “That’s pretty ... important.”
Welch said he became involved with Habitat for Humanity shortly after his son’s serious illness.
“A few years ago my son was diagnosed with a rare disease,” he offered. The care for his son brought Welch into contact with many people.
“When you start meeting these people, they are the ones who want to help other people,” Welch said. “It’s not like volunteering to me. It’s more like giving back ... and a small part of that is giving back through Bike to Build.”
Welch said he has worked with many Habitat volunteers and has always been impressed with their common cause.
“I know so many people there,” he said of the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland organization. “It’s pretty doggone professional. They’re excited about their work, and that gets me excited about being a part of it.”
This year’s Bike to Build event is directed by volunteer Emily Rush. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland office and Habitat ReStore are located at 300 Grove Ave. S.W., P.O. Box 303, Cleveland, TN, 37364. The phone number is 423-476-6947.
Bike to Build participants may sign up on a hard-copy form found on the event brochure which is available at the offices or in locations throughout the community, or by accessing the website online. The registration form is also published regularly in display ads in the Cleveland Daily Banner. The registration fee may be paid by check or money order made payable to “Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.” To pay by credit card, register online at www.habitatofcleveland.org.
Each Bike to Build registered rider will receive a free T-shirt (based on availability), snacks, lunch, a goody bag and full SAG service if needed.
Questions should be directed to Emily Rush at the Habitat office.
According to the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland marketing brochure, “All funds raised in our local community stay in Bradley County. Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland works in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life. We work to develop communities with people in need by building and selling houses with zero percent interest loans. Our goal is to provide decent houses and communities in which every person can experience God’s love and grow into all that God intends.”
Of Bike to Build, the Habitat brochure cites, “Your involvement in this event helps us build homes and hope for families in need of decent shelter. Even the smallest donation can make a big difference in someone’s life.”