ROCKINGHAM — More than 600 cyclists rolled through Richmond County Thursday on their way to the beach.
Rockingham Speedway served as a rest stop for those participating in Cycle North Carolina’s annual Mountains to Coast ride.
Speedway staff and Cycle NC volunteers served up bottles of water, soft drinks and pickle juice shots, as well as fresh fruit and energy bars to the riders traveling that day from Albemarle to Laurinburg.
The speedway was one of five stops along the route.
Several riders were disappointed they couldn’t take a lap around the track as a commercial was being filmed at the same time.
Traffic safety was handled by the N.C. State Highway Patrol and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
The 500-mile ride was supposed to begin at Lake Junaluska, according to Russell Reyer, but Hurricane Ian’s passing last week caused them to lose two days. So the starting point was Tryon International Equestrian Center in Polk County.
Reyer, who has been involved with the ride since 2012, said it is set to end Saturday afternoon in Holden Beach.
The riders are from all over the nation, not just North Carolina. Reyer, of Black Mountain, said there were even two women from Turkey.
While some of the cyclists were on the younger side, Reyer said the average age is 58 or older.
The oldest rider on the tour is 84.
“They’re all in good shape,” Reyer said. “Some of these people do a half a dozen of these in a year.”
A Dallas-based attorney, who goes by “Texas,” said cycling is “a way of life.”
“It’s not about who’s first,” he said. “It’s about everybody’s a winner for finishing.”
Texas, who has been a participant for the past 15 years, said that the riders have no problems helping each other out, whether its if someone needs an Aspirin or $100.
“For a week of being with people like that, it’s just fabulous,” he said.
The Mountains to Coast ride is one of three organized each year by Cycle North Carolina, according to Reyer.
“But this is the big ride, this is the best,” Reyer added.
See more photos below.