By Josette Keelor -- firstname.lastname@example.org
When David Adsit began cycling four years ago, he was hoping to start getting in shape again. After experiencing several seemingly unconnected health scares, including removal of a mass that could have turned cancerous, he decided to focus more attention on his health.
"I've always enjoyed riding bikes, when I was a young kid," said Adsit, now 52.
"I quit smoking about four years ago and that's kind of what inspired me," he said. Since then, he's accumulated about 3,500 miles -- so far.
"I'm kind of proud of that," he said. "I enjoy what I do."
Adsit participates in every bike ride he can, including the Back Roads Century, which begins in Berryville this Sunday.
Two weeks ago, for the first time, he participated in the Civil War Century, which rides through Maryland's Antietam National Battlefield and South Mountain State Battlefield, and Pennsylvania's Gettysburg National Battlefield.
Last year Adsit organized the Valley Rally Bicycle Ride, which kicks off in Clearbrook Park in Frederick County and donates all proceeds to local Boy Scouts of America programs, including Camp Rock Enon in Gore. This year's ride will be Oct. 6.
Retired from the Navy and now an employee with FEMA, Adsit volunteers with the Boy Scouts and accepted local scouting advisor Mark Pennington's challenge last year to start a bike ride for charity.
Adsit anticipates about 75 to 100 riders this year.
About half of the participants who sign up will ride 100 miles around Frederick and Clarke counties, and West Virginia counties Jefferson and Berkeley, but Adsit said shorter rides also will be available at 10, 20 and 50 miles, and approximately 65 miles -- a metric century.
"We have casual riders, a lot of people are avid cyclists," Adsit said. These are people who sign up for every ride they can. "For the Valley Rally Bicycle Ride, it's something new for them."
He expects riders from around Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennyslvania and Washington to come.
Though he won't ride, because he's an organizer, this weekend Adsit plans to participate in the Back Roads Century, which he said is a beautiful ride.
Robert "Bob" Bernstein, this year's chair of the Back Roads Century, said the event organized by the Potomac Pedalers reached its limit for paid participants -- 2,000 -- a few weeks ago but hopes to increase the limit for next year's ride. The ride, which draws people from as far away as New England and Ohio, takes cyclists along a figure-8 loop through Clarke County, in to Jefferson County, W.Va., then south to Warren County before ending in Berryville.
"This one, it's not as hard at the Civil War Century," Bernstein said, "and some people like that because they can go a little faster, or a lot faster."
"There are a number of people who do a number of centuries," he said. "The riding that they do during the year is to be able to train."
Each century ride has a different feel to it, he said, "a different vibe." He said the Potomac Pedalers try to provide a good value for participants.
"Our route comes back to the start at the midpoint," he said. "You can stop at 50."
Like the Valley Rally ride, the Back Roads Century offers a 50-mile ride, but he expects about 1,200 to attempt the full 100. "They do the southern loop first," Bernstein said. "And that makes it safer for the participants, and it helps with not clogging the roads for the residents.
The ride runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., beginning and ending at the old Clarke County High School on Westwood Road. The heaviest concentration of riders on the road will be from about 7 a.m. to noon on the northern route, and all day on the southern route, Bernstein said.
Refreshments will be available for cyclists at rest stops along the way and at the end point, which has been provided by the high school band boosters.
"Next year we hope to provide even more value for what they're paying for as far as support," Bernstein said. "We hope to get a lot more sponsorship and participation ... to grow on what we've done so far." He said he's in preliminary discussions to involve local businesses next year, to "be able to give them some taste of Clarke County."
Potomac Pedalers uses proceeds for grants to help with cycling education and other types of related activities to promote cycling, Bernstein said.
Participation already has increased by nearly 300 percent since three years ago when, Bernstein said, he considered 700 participants an achievement.
"And I think as word gets out, and people talk about the great time they had, I think we'll be able to draw people from even further," he said. Following the ride will be a barbecue, live music and a raffle of items donated from area bike shops. "Hoping in the future to make this part of almost a weekend festival."
Adsit said he's still building his way up to completing a century ride.
"I just ride every chance I get," he said. "I guess you could say it's become a passion of mine."
Though he's done shorter rides in the Back Roads a few times already, this year's Civil War Century was the first in which he participated. He had planned to complete the metric century, but he opted instead for 50 miles because he, like many of the other 1,600 riders, were interrupted by a flash thunderstorm.
Last October he completed the metric century for The Great Pumpkin Ride in Warrenton.
His favorite is the Back Roads Century, but he also appreciates The Heritage Ride that takes place in June, supports The Boys and Girls Club and donates bikes to participants who complete the ride.
The Valley Rally, however, seems to cater more to families than the other rides, placing emphasis on its 10-mile Family Route. Along the entire 100-mile route will be five rest stops with snacks, some of which cover more than one route.
"There's a little something for everybody," Adsit said. "From the recreational to the serious cyclist."
The Valley Rally Bicycle Ride will take place rain or shine on Oct. 6, with gates opening at 6 a.m. A rolling start will allow century riders to start between 7 and 7:30 a.m., and other riders to begin later throughout the morning. Participation per person is $35 in advance or $45 onsite. Groups of five can register for $30 per person. For more information, visit www.valleyrallybikeride.com.