Showers weren’t predicted for last Saturday morning, but the early morning rain did not keep serious bike riders away from CCHASM’s Spirit 76 Ride. The ride, with the starting point at Chester Baptist Church’s parking lot, gave bikers a choice of either a 76-mile ride or a 40-mile ride through southern Chesterfield County. Of the 83 bike riders registered, over 40 riders kicked off the 76-mile ride at 8 a.m., and with the sun breaking through around 9 a.m., 35 riders began their 40-mile ride. Sharon Juozapavicius, CEO for CCHASM (Chesterfield Colonial Heights Alliance for Social Ministry), said, “This is our third year [sponsoring the race] and it is our biggest. We have almost tripled [the number of riders] from last year.”
All proceeds from the ride go to CCHASM a 501(c) (3), which has been assisting area residents with emergency needs for over 22 years. “We now have over 19 food pantries in the area,” said Juozapavicius. Along with Chesterfield, CCHASM now serves Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Prince George and Dinwiddie County. With four major sponsors for the ride, Agee’s Bicycles, Anytime Fitness, Martin’s and Papa John’s Pizza, the riders helped raise several thousand dollars for CCHASM’s projects. “We thank everyone for their support,” said Juozapavicius. “It’s wonderful of everyone who turned out to support and enjoyed the ride.”
Bike riders came from all over the area as well as a few from out of state. Leading the group on the 40-mile ride was a group of riders that ride together each Tuesday evening at Richard Bland College. Mike and Mary Anne Williams, of Chester, Kent Dodd of Chester, Scott Morehead of Petersburg and Mike Peterson of Ft. Lee, try to get in a 30-mile ride each Tuesday evening. Sometimes riding with as many as 13 bike riders, Mary Anne Williams said, “We can get 22 to 30 miles in before it starts to get dark. Now that the days are getting shorter, it will be a little less.”
Traveling from Raleigh, N.C., Neal Hood rides for the escape. Hood found out about the Spirit 76 ride last weekend when he traveled up to Ashland for the 100-mile ride during their BikeFest. Hood said he has been riding long distances for about four years. “It is just an escape,” he said. “And I like the sitting aspect of it a lot.” Hood rides around 150 miles each weekend. “In the winter around 90 to 100 miles,” he said. “This is the first time for the ride, but I try to ride all the mountain rides in Virginia. Hood said a typical 100-mile ride in the mountains takes around seven hours, and on flatter terrain like in Chesterfield it will take around five and a half to six hours. “I tried to make it up for the 76-mile ride, but I was running a little late.” The bike Hood was riding in the 40-mile race ran around $3,000 and he said his mountain bike was $6,000. “It is not cheap,” he said about his biking, “but you only live once.”
Along with maintaining the 19 pantries, CCHASM’s biggest project lies ahead of them. They will distribute several thousand meals to families in Chesterfield County for Thanksgiving and will add a new distribution of Thanksgiving meals at the V.F.W. in Hopewell to help families of Hopewell, Prince George and Dinwiddie County. For more information about their programs, visit www.cchasm.org.