PILOT MOUNTAIN — About 520 riders took the 3 Mountain Madness challenge Saturday morning, leaving out from Armfield Civic Center at 8 a.m. and headed on one of three routes, two of which take cyclists to the top of Sauratown Mountain, Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain.
This was the 16th year of the 3 Mountain Madness charity bike ride to benefit the Armfield Civic Center, and the turnout was not disappointing. Only one rider has cycled all 16 years — Mark McCoy of Winston-Salem, noted Ricky Adkins, co-founder of the timed ride with Harry Wilson of Pilot Mountain.
“We’ve averaged 550 riders the past five years,” said Adkins of the popularity of the ride, which drew cyclists from 15 states this year. “It is a timed event, but it’s basically for bragging rights. There are no awards.”
Cyclists choose one of three routes — a 41-mile trek up and down the foothills of the area, or a 75-mile or a 95-mile century loop, both of which take riders up the three steepest area peaks.
Sharon Adkins, Ricky’s wife, said the youngest cyclists this year was 13 and the oldest was about 75.
As far as distance traveled to participate, she said they came from as far away as Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New York, Florida. “I don’t know that any came just for the ride, but they were working in the area and were looking for something to do, or one guy from New York has a brother who lives here so he came down to visit too,” she said.
Robert Jordan of Lexington cycled the ride eight years ago and returned this year to challenge himself, while Juan and Haggi Montoya of Clemmons were cycling the event for the third time. Juan is originally from Colombia, and he and Haggi moved to Clemmons from New York.
When asked why ride the 3 Mountain Madness, Haggi responded, “Why not? It’s for the challenge.”
The trio planned to take the 75-mile route.
“It is fun, and there are a lot of people. We kill ourselves, but we like to,” said Juan smiling.
“You can ride any day, but you can’t ride with 500 people up and down the mountains,” Jordan added. “It has become a tradition.”
And it’s a tradition for the more than 100 volunteers as well.
Rodney Hardy started working the event four years ago while he was serving on the Armfield Board of Directors. “The volunteers, sponsorships and donations are amazing,” he said. “It is just a fantastic event and it is great to come out here and see everyone.
“I wouldn’t miss it. I’ll put this on my calendar every year.”
“The thing is, most rides are down (in participation),” said co-founder Harry Wilson. “So to get 520 is real good for us.”
Wilson noted the great weather this year as a benefit since the 2011 cyclists had to deal with 95-degree temperatures.
“We are still a million in debt, so we are trying to raise money for that,” he said of the center. “The bikers have been really good in supporting us.
“And there are roughly 100 volunteers who work this from HAM radio operators, to motorcyclists, to rest stop volunteers, the lunch crew and registration.”
And this year had a special meaning for Wilson, who is also a cyclist. His wife Jaye’s brother-in-law, Mike Watters, who has been traveling to Pilot Mountain from Ohio each year with her sister to volunteer and photograph the ride, was unable to make the trip this year as he was diagnosed with kidney cancer just a month ago and is undergoing treatment. Wilson said the doctors have given him six months.
As he choked up, Wilson said this year’s ride was dedicated to Watters, and he pointed out the event banner which hung upside down next to a sign that read “Mike we can’t do it right without you.”
Results from this year’s event are to be posted on the event website, www.3mountainmadness.com, sometime this week.