From Cheyenne Edition, August 3, 2012
By Stephanie Edwards. Article and photos shared with permission from Cheyenne Edition newspaper.
Bike riders and volunteers for the 2nd Annual Bike for Hope gave it their all to conquer the rigorous 40-plus mile uphill ride to Victor benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). The evening prior to the big ride, presenting sponsor Gold Hill Mesa hosted a send-off party in their community center where riders, volunteers and supporters were nourished, hydrated, entertained and sent out in style.
“The send-off party is unique in that riders don’t often expect such a fantastic event. It is an opportunity to celebrate in advance of the ride and show appreciation to the volunteers,” CASA Advocate Staci Blair observed.
Around 250 guests gathered for the pre-ride party where they fueled up on a delicious fajita buffet prepared by Picnic Basket and got their hearts pumping with music by local band King of Clubs. Tight muscles were loosened before the big journey with a complimentary chair massage by Heuser Chiropractic. The send-off partyalso gave participants an opportunity to enjoy a moment of camaraderie and encouragement before the big ride.
The send-off event wasn’t all play as there was plenty of work to get the riders and volunteers geared up. Riders registered and picked up a stylish jersey and backpack full of swag that included essentials like sunscreen donated by Genesis MedSpa. They also mixed up a pouch of energy filled snacks for the road from the self-serve trail mix bar. Aid Station volunteers loaded up provisions that included food, water and first aid supplies. While Safety and Gear (SAG) supporters organized HAM radio operators and bicycle repair items to help with any emergencies.
Greeted by a beautiful sunrise and perfect weather conditions, participants set out at dawn on Saturday morning, beginning the ride at 6,400 feet from Gold Hill Mesa ascending to 10,500 feet at Victor. The route proceeded through Bear Creek Park, over Old Gold Camp Road and Old Stage Camp Road, traversing beautiful back country that passed by rock formations, reservoirs and old homesteads along the way to Victor. Despite the challenge and thrill, the heart pumping uphill terrain was offset by some welcome downhill sections that allowed riders time to catch their breath and enjoy the scenery.
Some riders opted for a less strenuous route that went to a half-way point at Rosemont Reservoir, which is approximately 20 miles. From there, riders were shuttled on to Victor. Despite the shorter route, and less strenuous incline, the scenery was every bit as magnifi cent as the full ride.
Staci Blair, Circle of Impact member and 10-year CASA advocate, rode from the halfway point. “That portion of the ride was fun and
relaxing — less strenuous than the full ride. It was a great opportunity to connect with new friends. The shuttle was fun, like a camp setting in which we were all going on a great adventure together.” Just in its second year, the ride is gaining popularity as a ‘must do’ for extreme Mountain Bikers, as well as a fun challenge for those less experienced who choose to take the shorter route. Several excited riders said that this excursion had made its way onto their ‘Bucket Lists’ and they were glad to have the opportunity to conquer it.
Second year rider, Eric Cefus, director of New Business for the Pikes Peak Foundation, plans to make the journey an annual family event. His 11-year-old son, Ethan, rode on he tandem bike last year, and this year he did it by himself. “Now my 7-year-old Jeremy is ready to join, so next year he will ride the tandem with me. This ride is defi nitely becoming a family tradition!”
Bike for Hope was founded and organized by CASA’s Circle of Impact, a special philanthropic group of dynamic women who are committed to the health and wellbeing of the children of Colorado Springs. Karen Schwartz and Ellen Powers co-chaired the ride and did a phenomenal job of leading and planning all levels of operations and logistics that go into making it a safe and successful ride. There was a great turnout in participants, volunteers and sponsors despite a drop-off in registrations during the Waldo Canyon Fire. Logistics for the event were quite a feat and volunteers worked for months in advance to make the ride as flawless as possible. The long list of participating sponsors also contributed greatly to the success of the ride. Sponsors included Gold Hill Mesa, KKTV, Bestway, Victor and Cripple Creek Gold Mine Company, Great Western Bank, Powers Liquor Mart and Rocky Mountain Coors and many more who contributed to the silent auction during the sendoff party.
Bike for Hope is one of several fundraisers held for CASA to benefit children who have been abused or neglected. It has been said that the safety and peace of children is a reflection of the health and quality of life in the community.
CASA’s mission is to ensure that children have a safe environment and a lasting home. Sadly, El Paso County Department of Human Services hotline took over than 13,000 calls last year, more than any other in the state. CASA of the Pikes Peak Region is working to bring those numbers down by raising awareness about the issue.
“We’re a nonprofit organization who utilizes community volunteers to represent the best interest of children who are involved in the court system through no fault of their own,” said Trudy Strewler Hodges, Executive Director of CASA of the Pikes Peak Region. Like all nonprofits, CASA relies heavily on fundraising events with 84 cents of every dollar raised going directly to their five programs. They served close to 1,000 children last year and over 7,000 since their inception. Bike for Hope is quickly becoming one of CASA’s signature events helping to fulfi ll their noble mission of being a voice for children in need.
Though numbers are not yet calculated for the 2012 Bike for Hope, last year’s event had an excellent outcome raising close to $13,000 for CASA to help provide more programs and services for children who need support in the courts and the community.
More riders, volunteers, and supporters are anticipated each year of this annual event, and the planning is underway now for next year. Anyone who wishes to participate as a rider, volunteer, or sponsor for next year is welcome!