The 20th Annual Blood Sweat and Gears Bike Ride Upholds Traditions of Community and Charity

Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 11:29 am

Two veterans who participated in the ride standing on the painted BSG 20th anniversary rock.

By Hailey Blevins

The sound of rubber on the road could be heard throughout the High Country on Saturday as 1,190 cyclists came out for the annual Blood Sweat and Gears bike ride.

Blood Sweat and Gears finished its 20th anniversary on June 23. With an ongoing record of giving back to the community, this year was no different, making it clear why some have described the bike ride as “more than a ride.”

Scott Nelson receives a hug from a vet after giving travel monies to the vets.

This bike ride was a show of community and togetherness from the very start this year. Even before the bike ride itself, riders rallied together to donate their entries to 14 veterans who would be riding as part of their rehabilitation. A whopping 12 of these 14 veterans were able to participate in the ride on Saturday. Others in the High Country community stood behind the veterans as well. Hincapie Sportswear donated their riding apparel, KASK donated helmets, Jerky Outpost in Valle Crucis donated gift bags and Panera Bread provided a meal.

A picture of the gifts given for the veterans participating in the BSG bike ride.

Around 300 volunteers came together to make this year’s bike ride another successful one. Blood Sweat and Gears is a ride that relies heavily on these volunteers. They assisted riders as they got lined up and ready, provided water and snacks at rest stops, handed out rider packets on Friday, and so much more.

Blood Sweat and Gears featured two rides: a 100-mile ride and a 50-mile ride. A total of 1,190 cyclists came out to participate in these rides on Saturday. Jenny Leiser came in at 5:13:34.79 and Michael Bissette came in at 4:38:20.63 in the 100 mile ride while Florence Howden came in at 2:47:46.98 and Carl Corley came in at 2:31:42.84 in the 50 mile ride. You can check more riders’ times here to see how they compare. However, Blood Sweat and Gears organizers and founders stress that the ride is not a race. 

This year, the Blood Sweat and Gears bike ride distributed a total of $50,000 in grant monies. With these donations, Blood Sweat and Gears is fulfilling their slogan, “Helping our community one revolution at a time.”

The Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant awarded $20,000 to the Western Youth Network, which was received by Jennifer Warren, the Executive Director. The Jim Harmon Honorary Grant awarded $10,000 to the High Country Hunger & Health Coalition, which was received by Elizabeth Young, the Executive Director.

Other recipients of donations were The Healing Hunger Farm ($5,000), Spirit Ride Therapeutic Riding Center ($5,000), Mountain Alliance ($4,000), Watauga Habitat for Humanity ($3,500) and WAMY ($2,500).

Since Blood Sweat and Gears became a freestanding nonprofit seven years ago, more than $650,000 has been raised and donated to organizations in the High Country.

Very Back Row : Jeremiah Stanton-Rich (Mtn Alliance), Bill Carr (BSG Board) 2nd Row: Wayne Miller (WYN), Christ Trew (Mtn. Alliance) Jim Harmon (BSG Board), JoLynn Mahoney (BSG Board), Bob Holder (WYN), Doug Helms (Healing Hunger Farm) 1st Row: Elizabeth Young (Hunger Health Coalition), Allison Jennings (WC Habitat for Humanity), Brenda Lowman (WYN), Sherrie Pitts (BSG Board), Mark Soule (BSG Ride Committee), Jennifer Warren (WYN), Shelley Helms (Healing Hunger Farm), Patty & Craig Adams (Spirit Ride), Ashley Cook (WAMY)

Following the race each year, Blood Sweat and Gears sends out post ride surveys to all the riders. Scott Nelson, BSG Ride Director, said that they’ve already received over a third of the surveys back with very positive feedback. In a post ride survey response, one of the veterans wrote, “Thank you for giving me and the other veterans a memory we’ll never forget.”

President of the BSG Board and Chair of the Grant Committee, JoLynn Mahoney, commented on this year’s bike ride, saying, “It was another excellent BSG. My goal is for our community to embrace these riders when they are encountered on the road. Yes, they make us slow down, but they also come to our rides which generates proceeds that go directly back into our community.”

Mahoney hit the nail on the head with her statement. Cyclists can only go so fast. Yet, if we all slowed down and put as much back into our community as these cyclists do, our communities would be booming in no time.

The 2018 BSG live painting with their slogan by Ryan Visingard.

 

Photos from the ride taken by Lonnie Webster:

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