Tour de Goodwill: 460 Cyclists Set Off in Flagler Beach Rotary’s 8th Annual Ride
FlaglerLive | April 10, 2011
They didn’t gather at dawn, they didn’t mumble and keep to themselves, they didn’t pump fists, do breathing exercises and get in their zones: it wasn’t that kind of race, where starting-line tension can muffle the joy of an event. It wasn’t even a race. The Flagler Beach Rotary’s annual Cycle Flagler can be extremely demanding, especially on those who opt for the 62 or 100-mile route, but it’s a ride, not a race, it’s a lot more relaxed than competitive events, the atmosphere is jazzier, and the cause is more elevated than individual performances and who crosses the finish line first: This is one of the Rotary’s main fund-raisers.The more than $14,000 raised today (at at last $30 per cyclist) will–as the Rotary’s Kim Carney described it to riders at the starting line–help provide Christmas toys for some 1,300 children and about $4,000 in scholarships.
So they all gathered in the morning sun, golden–like the Rotary’s emblem–just long enough to carry the riders through their first few miles, from their starting line on Airport Road, next to the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Affiliates, across the Flagler Beach bridge and onto State Road A1A. Beyond that the sun got brighter and hotter, and riders began their loop down A1A and John Anderson Drive, all the way to State Road 40 (except for 25-mile riders, who could cross back earlier), where they made it back onto the mainland to loop back to where they started.The 25 and 40-mile riders ended there, the 62 and 100-milers went on, riding north all the way to SR206 and back across the Intracoastal and down A1A again. The fastest 100-mile ride was expected to take about three and a half hours, so it wouldn’t be over until at least 11:30 this morning.
Along the route several local businesses had set up five rest stops for the weary, and at the end a barbecue was to welcome the riders back.
“It’s a huge community event,” Donna Tofal, president of the Flagler Beach Rotary, said. “It’s organized by us but there’s so many people in the community that participate and help.” Some 480 riders registered, Rotary Club President-Elect Tim O’Donnell said, and about 460 made it to the starting line–the largest group in Cycle Flagler’s eight-year history. Carney credited the Palm Coast Observer, a sponsor and advertiser of the event, for “putting us over the top” with the big numbers.
At 8 a.m. sharp, Flagler Beach police blocked off SR100 at Airport Road, loud horn blew, and they were off, leisurely making the turn onto the highway and riding into the rising sun. Nate McLaughlin, the county commissioner (who, the previous afternoon, was being dunked at the Rock ‘n Ribfest in Palm Coast’s Town Center) rode his Kawasaki Vulcan to lead the riders, at least to A1A. Some riders were so young that even George W. Bush’s presidency might seem like distant history to them, and some were old enough to have once, and possibly twice, voted for Dwight Eisenhower (or Adlai Stevenson).
Among the riders: Tom Hury, who had a gizmo attached to his helmet that would take a picture of the ride at frequent intervals. “My wife and I started the event,” Hury said, referring to Barbara, “and Kim took it over so we could ride our bikes.”