By BRIAN SMITH
Preparations for the 26th Annual Peach Pedal bike ride July 12 are going well but more riders are needed.
Ride Coordinator Brent Baker said many riders wait until the last week before signing up to ensure the weather is going to cooperate. The ride benefits two great causes: scholarships and other assistance for students through the Weatherford College Foundation, and the promotion of the community through the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce.
More than 2,200 riders took part in last year’s ride, Baker said, and an estimated 70 percent of them were from out of town.
“This is annually a big day for Parker County with the Peach Festival itself and the bike ride,” Baker said. “We’ve had people come from as far away as California and Washington for the event, so it’s a big deal.”
Many riders use the Peach Pedal as a warmup or test for the annual Hotter N’ Hell Hundred Bike Ride in Wichita Falls, which takes place in August, Baker said.
“The heat (at the time of year) is the reason we’re so popular,” Baker said. “People wanting to take part in that ride use us as a chance to see where they’re at.”
No event this big is done without a lot of help. Baker said safety is the most important thing to consider when doing a ride, and the Weatherford Police Department has always worked on tweaking routes as they have done this year to improve safety.
Volunteers perform a number of different tasks throughout the race, which begins at 8 a.m. at Weatherford High School, including working rest stops, driving the four routes to pick up riders who have had mechanical or physical issues and others.
“We would be dead in the water without our volunteers. The workers that work our rest stops do more than just hand out fruit or Gatorade,” Baker said. “Many of our riders tell us that they enjoy talking with the people they meet at our rest stops.”