'Let's go for a ride'

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 06:25 PM

Fifteen years ago Wendy Meyer-Goodwin and her husband took a bike ride through Vance County.

A year later the couple moved to Henderson, and on Saturday Meyer-Goodwin, an avid cyclist, saw her dreams of hosting a Tour de Vance come to fruition.

“You know the name Vance, it’s so close to France,” Meyer-Goodwin said. “It’s just meant to be. It had to happen.”

The inaugural event brought 54 cyclists out Saturday morning to take part in three rides of varying distances. Vance-Granville Community College was the starting point.

Twenty-five people participated in the 10-mile family course, which ran to the Oxford-Henderson Airport and back, while 17 traveled a 30-mile course, and 12 set out on a 60-mile journey taking them by Kerr Lake.

“This was great that it wasn’t too big, because it wasn’t too overwhelming,” Goodwin said. “You know if we’d had 100 sign up, then the rush beginning would have been a little harder to handle.”

Proceeds from the race went to the United Way of Vance County which provided food, beverage and celebratory cheering for cyclists as they crossed the finish line.

Jim Goodwin, uncle of Wendy’s husband, was responsible for the couple’s first bike ride through Vance County, part of his strategy for recruiting them to the area.

On Saturday, Goodwin completed the 30-mile course.

“Her husband is my nephew,” Jim said. “I was recruiting him to come to Henderson to practice surgery here, and when they came I said, well let’s go on a bike ride.

“They were big bike riders, and they said, ‘this is the most fantastic place to ride bikes that we’ve ever been in.’

“So that was part of the recruitment.”

Enjoying the scenery of Vance County was a benefit to riders, some of which added additional miles to their course simply to see the waters of Kerr Lake.

“We ended up, we added a little leg so we could go down to the water,” said Bryce Fleming, a Henderson resident. “A bunch of us that kind of know each other, we just took off and went together.”

Fleming has been cycling on and off for the past 20 years. He was pleased to see an organized biking event come to Henderson.

“I’ve been hoping they would do something like this here for a while,” Fleming said. “The best part of the ride was riding with the nice people.”

Many riders enjoyed Tour de Vance because it provided a leisurely, non-competitive ride where friends rode in groups and chatted as they pedaled.

“It’s a big social thing,” said Mark Dubinski, a doctor at Mariah Parham Medical Center. “You talk when you’re riding. It’s not competitive.”

For Dubinski, cycling is a hobby he finds most enjoyable on roads in the Tri-County.

“This area — Henderson, Warren County, Granville County — has some great roads to ride on,” Dubinski said. “There’s just not a lot of traffic, it’s visibly beautiful, and the roads are good.

“That’s a big problem like if you live around Raleigh, there’s so much traffic, but here it’s far and few between.”

Pedaling the 30-mile course on a bike made for two was Dave and Trudy Williams from Oxford.

“It’s a tandem recumbent,” Dave said. “I crank out front, she cranks underneath.”

Dave explained the difficulty of pedaling up hills on a two seated bike, designed with more back and neck support than traditional models.

“It’s like you’re in a chair,” Dave said. “You have back support. It’s harder to climb hills because you can’t stand up.

“The bike’s heavy. It’s a 50-pound bike. You sit up straight is the big difference as opposed to leaning forward.”

On Saturday the Tour de Vance provided cyclists their first opportunity to participate in a Vance County, locally-organized biking event.

Many, including the person responsible for recruiting Meyer-Goodwin to Henderson, hope to see the race return.

“I thought it was great for the area,” Jim Goodwin said. “I think it’s an absolutely fantastic event that will hopefully grow as the years go on.”

Contact the writer at abentley@hendersondispatch.com.