The End Zone Seat: Ride Raises Funds for Cancer Fight
Despite a one-month postponement, the 13th annual Black Dog Tour de Shunk proved to be another successful fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s fight against cancer.
A total of 110 cyclists made the scenic, if somewhat chilly and damp, ride through Bradford, Sullivan, Tioga and Lycoming Counties on Sunday, Oct. 16, raising $5,700 for the charity.
The number of riders was down from previous years, but event organizer Greg White attributed that to the delay caused by the September flooding in the week leading up to the original date. Road closings and severe damage to part of the 100-mile route forced White to push back the date.
“I think the late date and cold weather kept a lot of people away,” White admitted.
“We had a difficult time getting the ride to happen this year,” White said. “But after a one month delay and several route changes caused by the flooding and extensive road damage, we pulled it off.”
Most of the riders pedaled off from Rocky’s Bike Shop west of Monroeton at 9 a.m. under a chilly but sunny sky. As the day progressed, conditions didn’t. It clouded up and the wind increased with the temperatures dropping into the 50s. By the end of the ride, occasional showers began.
“Like always,” White noted, “I never heard a complaint with positive attitudes all around.”
The full 100-mile route—cyclists could opt for shorter 25- and 50-mile rides—took Southside Road to East Canton where it began the “signature climb” of the ride up Wheelerville Mountain on Rt. 154. The riders arrived at Shunk for the first rest stop at Endless Winds Fire Hall.
There were also rest stops at Plunketts Creek Fire Hall and Ralston Fire Hall as the riders made their way back to Rocky’s for a post-ride spaghetti dinner and sessions with massage therapists, who volunteered their services for the event.
White noted that the course this year had over 30 miles of newly paved roads. Riders also got a break with the usually very busy truck traffic from the gas industry. Chesapeake Energy reviewed a map of the course prior to the event and with a list of estimated arrival times by the riders, shut down operations temporarily in areas where trucks and cyclists would have encountered each other.
According to White, one local rider told him it was like the gas trucks “fell off the face of the earth for the day.”
The smaller field—last year there were more than twice this year’s number—wasn’t nearly as diverse, but there were still some interesting stories.
According to White, the field was mainly local riders, but there were also cyclists from New York, Connecticut, Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming.
There were 94 men and 16 women in the event. The median age for men was 47 and 39 for women.
Hank Kramer was the oldest participant at 77. Harley Heichel was the youngest at 15.
Heichel was a member of the Freligh Fighters, a group from the Ridge Riders Bike Club. John Freligh and his son, also John, both had wives who fought cancer. Unfortunately, one of the women died this summer.
“It was both sad and uplifting to see the large group in their club jerseys honoring the women,” White said. “Many of these riders were first timers in the event.”
Besides the Ridge Riders, other clubs participating included Susquehanna Valley Velo Club, Dutch Wheelmen and the Finger Lakes Cycling Club. White is a member of the Endless Mountains Cycling Club.
The fastest riders were Doug Carlson and Robert Meikle, who finished in just over five hours.
Last year, Father Joe Hornick of Dushore was the last rider to finish. This year, he was first, but that was because he started the ride at 1 a.m. so he could make an important appointment at 3 p.m.
Kramer rode the entire 100 miles in “a respectable 10 hours.” Kramer is a veteran of the ride, but missed the 2010 event as he recovered from hip and knee replacement. He hopes to be back next year, according to White, with an “athletic female riding partner.”
While the registration fees were a large part of the money raised, sponsors came through with an additional $2,000.
The sponsors included Sean Colgan/Black Dog Ranch, Chesapeake Energy, Cargill, Formula One Feeds, Domino’s Pizza, Dolly’s Boutique, Robson Forensic, PCA, MCS Engineering, Knights of Columbus Council No. 12406, Ridge Riders Cycling Club and the Freligh Fighters, Sullivan County Rural Electric, Bill’s Hardware, Birko, DuPont Employees Recreation Association, Ithaca Sports, Knowlton and Sons Masonry, Susquehanna Valley Velo Club, Jim Tallia, Jamie Bubeck, Eric Brown, Jarre Hockenbrocht, Jim Walton and Bill Walton.
Among the organizations that also helped out were Rocky’s Bike Shop for free use of the facility and the efforts of his family and staff as volunteers; Kellogg’s of Muncy provided the Nutrigrain bars for the riders; Grainger of Wilkes-Barre donated Gatorade and volunteers; the three fire departments for use of their halls, and Cargill, White’s employer, donated money and volunteers to the event.
Over 20 volunteers assisted in the effort.
“My last, and most sincere thanks, go to all the volunteers that showed up to help out,” White said. “You folks amaze me every year, showing up and giving your day to these riders, with great attitudes. The compliments that I received from the riders about the volunteers were overwhelming. You are a special group.”
White has set Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 as the date for the 14th Tour de Shunk.