Spinning their Tar-Wheels

Cyclists on N.C. tour make stop in Chatham
Oct. 02, 2013 @ 09:53 PM

Adorned in bright green, yellow, pink, red and orange jerseys, hundreds of bicyclists pedaled through downtown Pittsboro on their statewide voyage Wednesday.

More than 1,100 cyclists traveled through Chatham County during a tour with Cycle North Carolina — an event with 15 years of history. The journey, which is nearly 500 miles across the state, began on Sept. 30 in Spruce Pine and will finish at Atlantic Beach Sunday. Pittsboro fell smack in the middle, said Cycle NC field staff member Randy Billings.

The cyclists stopped for snacks, beverages and a chance to use the restroom at the Pittsboro First United Methodist Church, he said, and it allowed them to view one of North Carolina’s beautiful communities.

Cycle NC wants to support sports within North Carolina and the Tar Heel state in general.

“We want to promote the state,” Billings said, “so people can see these wonderful communities like Pittsboro.”

Exploring the environmental and cultural treasures of the state and establishing relationships with other cyclists are just some of the benefits of the weeklong trip, he said.

“We want to expose them to rural and urban North Carolina,” Billings said, “to get a real feel for what North Carolina is like.”

Nearly half of the riders are from North Carolina, like Cynthia Shimer — a Durham resident who participates in the Carolina Tarwheels Bicycle Club. This is her second year with NC Cycle.

“I get to tour North Carolina and see parts of North Carolina I wouldn’t normally travel to. and now have a reason to go back to,” she said.

Various restaurants took advantage of the increased two-wheeled traffic, offering specials or treats for the cyclers, according to Neha Shah, director of the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We had a group of people cheering for the cyclists as they came around the courthouse.”

Rodney Collier, from White Oak, is trekking across North Carolina for his 3-year-old neighbor, Amelia, who has spina bifida.

“I’ve raised almost $3,000 so far,” he said. “And I am still digging. I asked for donations per mile I rode to help me support Amelia.”

Collier has made new friends and was able to talk to other dedicated cyclists throughout the trip.

Kelly Perry, administrative assistant at Pittsboro UMC, said this was her first time being involved with Cycle NC. The baked goods church members prepared were hot commodities, and Perry said the church was interested in sharing its hospitality.

“It’s been a great experience talking to cyclists,” she said. “The church has a new vision called ‘Growing disciples of Jesus in faith, hope and love.’ And we see this as one way to do that.”