At the end of this month, cyclists of all skill levels will gather in south Charlotte to practice bicycle safety while working to “turn the corner on local hunger.”
Organizers of the second annual charity event, called Tour de Turns because it’s “our version of the Tour de France” but “also involves a lot of turns,” hope to welcome around 200 cyclists on Aug. 24, said Karen Holbert, wife of event founder Lane Holbert.
In its first year, the event raised more than $4,000 for three local food charities: Second Harvest Food Bank, Friendship Trays and Loaves & Fishes. This year, the Holberts expect an even bigger turnout.
Participants can choose to bike a 15-mile route, a 25-mile route or a 62-mile route, all of which involve mostly right turns through shaded south Charlotte neighborhoods. Riders will be given maps before the rides begin, and all routes begin at 8 a.m. at the Foxcroft shopping center.
“The ride itself is very family-friendly and for all skill levels,” Karen Holbert said, adding that children must ride with their parents.
Tom Gibson, who participated last year with his wife, Robin, and his daughter, Emma, agrees. “We had been looking for some rides to do in the neighborhood that were safe, well-organized and well-thought out,” Gibson said, adding that his then-8-year-old daughter was able to complete 25 miles last year because of the “go at your own pace, stop when you want” atmosphere.
“She never thought she’d be able to do that type of mileage,” Gibson said.
New features have been added this year to make the event even more exciting and family-friendly. Children will be able to participate in a Bike Rodeo, and riders’ times will be recorded on five of the route’s inclines as part of a King of the Mountain competition.
Lane Holbert decided to start Tour de Turns in 2012 after becoming more involved in the food service industry through his job in commercial real estate. As a nine-year volunteer for Friendship Trays, an organization that provides meals to people who can’t leave their homes, Karen Holbert also was interested in food issues and encouraged the idea.
Lane Holbert decided to share the neighborhood route he’d been biking for about eight years to promote bicycle safety.
For the Gibson family, helping to alleviate local hunger was an added bonus to learning new, safe bicycle routes. The entire family plans to bike this year, including 12-year-old Ben, who was away at summer camp during the first event.
Lane Holbert hopes the cycling community will gain a better reputation for staying safe through events such as Tour de Turns. “He just came up with a route that he’s come to love that’s shaded and diverse as an alternative (to main roads),” Karen Holbert said.
Lane Holbert requires riders to wear a helmet and also encourages bright clothes and flashing lights on both sides of the bicycle. Bright Tour de Turns jerseys that display the routes will be available for purchase at the event.
Pre-registration for the event is $35 for adults and $15 for children 18 and younger regardless of which route participants choose to ride. After Aug. 20, fees will increase to $40 and $20, respectively. Participants can choose to donate their registration fee to their favorite of the three charities, and checks can be made directly to the organizations. Karen Holbert describes the ride as an “affordable way to make a difference in the community.”
Along with making a difference, Gibson and his family are looking forward to another good time.
“There’s something about getting out and having that exercise and camaraderie with your neighbors,” Gibson said.