KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Before the pros got to breeze through the USA Cycling course on Saturday, nearly 150 amateur cyclists tested it out but for a good cause.
The American Red Cross held their first Pedal for the Red event. Our own Lori Tucker biked the route from the Old City down Neyland Drive and back. Our WATE 6 On Your Side team included meteorologist Ken Weathers, Sports Director Marshall Hughes, Marc Whiteman, and Emily Proud.
As the announcer counted down from four, riders say it was exhilarating.
“That’s one of the neatest things about this is getting to ride the real course that the professionals, the US team, is going to ride on. It’s kind of neat knowing your tires are going the same place theirs are going to go,” said Mariel Clark who rode with her father and 6 year old son, Ben Clark.
The Pedal for the Red course was 4.8 miles and riders could decide how many laps they wanted to make.
“The first hill was tough but after that, you might say, it was all downhill,” said longtime Red Cross volunteer John Jarrard.
Lizzy Revans and her 7 year old son, Hickory Revans, rode through the start and finish line and say it was incredible being so close to the pros, “He was asking about their special bikes and everything. It was amazing just to watch them and they fly.”
Many of the riders say they loved the experience, but they loved what they were riding for.
“There’s no more worthy cause to devote to than the American Red Cross,” said Jarrard.
“So the idea came from the late Sam Beall of Blackberry Farm. He was great friends with one of our board members and they came up with this idea to have a community bike race. So we thought this was the perfect time to do this,” said Sarah Basel with the Red Cross.
It’s too soon to know just how much the non-profit raised on Saturday though they do know every dollar, every cent, stays here in East Tennessee.
“The work that we do is because of the generosity of the public. So the funds that were raised here today at Pedal for the Red allow us to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters big and small,” added Basel.
Organizers of Pedal for the Red tell us they plan on doing the same event next year.
Riders, like Jarrard, happy they had a number which was a way to show they’re a true volunteer, “106, there we go, that’s probably where I finished.”