Perhaps the first sign that everything was going to be okay came when Tabitha Riley woke up to picturesque fall weather Saturday morning.
As the programs and facilities supervisor for Culpeper County Parks and Recreation, one of Riley’s biggest responsibilities is serving as the lead organizer for the Culpeper Cycling Century, an annual fall pastime for cyclists of all fitness levels.
Riley knew well in advance that, like just about everything else in 2020, the event wouldn’t go untouched by COVID-19. She was well aware that there would have to be strict safety measures put in place in order to protect participants and volunteers alike if the 13th annual Century was to go off without a hitch.
If Riley had any lingering doubts about how viable holding the event was after she was greeted by the Saturday sunshine, they couldn’t have persisted once she saw the turnout.
Roughly 450 cyclists turned out for the Century, marking the second-largest number of participants since its inception in 2008.
“We were blessed with a lot of great circumstances [Saturday],” Riley said when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon. “We had great weather, there was a great turnout and it was an all-around great event.”
The number of cyclists nearly doubled that of the 2019 event, when approximately 230 took part in it.
The first noticeable change from years past was that participants were given a designated check-in window based on which course they registered for—an effort to prevent overcrowding at Culpeper Baptist Church, the Century’s homebase. They received their check-in tickets via email in advance of the day of the event and were asked to print, sign and bring them on the day of in order to speed up the process and limit contact with pens and other supplies.
Riley said this amended check-in process went as well as she could’ve hoped.
“Folks showed up during their designated window, brought their tickets and were generally compliant in regards to wearing face coverings and giving their fellow riders 6 feet of space while in line,” she said.
As with past iterations, the Century offered rest stops along each of the 30, 60 and 100-mile courses. Cyclists were asked to remove their gloves, use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving the hydration tents and refreshment stations, and serve themselves with prepackaged food items.
Back at the church, Riley and Co. asked that participants not straggle in the area after completing their courses—another preventive measure taken against overcrowding.
“Our cyclists all did a fantastic job of following the safety measures, both at the rest stops and back at the finish line at the church,” she said. “Things went absolutely splendidly.”
Participants seemed to share Riley’s sentiments about how smoothly the event unfolded.
“[It was a] great route, [had] friendly volunteers and [was] well organized and safe, too,” said Jon B., an area cyclist. “Other cycling organizations could learn from the planning and concern for rider and staff safety. [It was] just a totally awesome day in beautiful Culpeper.”
“This was the first organized event I have been able to attend this year, and the amount of procedures put into place to keep us all safe was just tremendous,” added Jan. W, another local rider. “Masks, distancing, gloves on the volunteers, and even volunteers pushing the water-cooler buttons for us were all first rate. [This was the] first time [I’ve] done this ride, but won’t be the last.”
The number of volunteers that donated their time to everything—from the check-in to the managing of rest stops—exceeded 30 in total. In addition, the Brandy Station, Richardsville and Little Fork volunteer fire departments and the Castleton Community Fire Department all provided on-site EMS staff at the rest stops.
Castleton also hosted a rest stop, as did Graffiti House, the Inn at Kelly’s Ford and Wayland Blue Ride Baptist Association.
Century sponsors included Allied Portable LLC; Cedar Mountain Stone/Chemung Contracting Inc.; Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care; Davies, Barrell, Will, Lewellyn & Edwards PLC; Fray, Hudson, Clark & Walker LLP—Attorneys; Friendship Heights LLC; Jane and Charlie Barrell; Mills Dayton & Company P.C.; Novant Health UVA Health System Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation; and Culpeper Media Network.
Net proceeds from the event, which were still being calculated as of press time, will once again go to the Culpeper Recreation Foundation for the improvement of recreation facilities throughout the community.
The 14th annual Culpeper Cycling Century has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Riley promised that it will be different from past events, but was decidedly mum on the details.
“We’re looking at adding some new and interesting things [next year],” she said. “People will definitely not want to miss it.”
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