BLACK MOUNTAIN Riders finally got to ride in the second Bookwalter Binge Charity Gran Fondo on Saturday, Oct. 31. The bike ride drew some 200 cyclists, including several professional riders, on the bike tour which included distances of 30, 60 and 80 miles starting and ending at Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain.
Susan and Jeff Wienke, and their 12-year-old son, Brooks, came up from Greenville, S.C., for the ride. They had registered last year for the inaugural ride, but it was canceled because of a massive storm that weekend.
This past Saturday, they all go to ride in the Meddio, or 62-mile ride.
Retired pro cyclist George Hincapie of Greenville, S.C., rides in the Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo on Oct. 31 in Black Mountain. (Photo: Citizen-Times photo)
“The ride was very organized and one of the safest we have participated in. The roads were well marked and volunteers were present to signal turns and slowing down,” Susan Wienke said.
“It was a challenging course, but lots of fun. We especially enjoyed the fall foliage at its peak. I felt a real sense of accomplishment afterward. What really stood out to me is how Jamie and Brent (Bookwalter) greeted everyone they came across during the ride, whether they were volunteers or fellow riders. It was special to see them take a moment and connect with each person.”
The Wienke Family of Greenville, S.C., from left, Jeff, Susan and Brooks, pose with Brent Bookwalter, of Asheville, at the 2nd annual Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo on Oct. 31. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
Susan Wienke said the family has taken part in many other “Gran Fondos,” or mass start bike rides, and what set the Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo apart was the non-competitive nature of the ride and the opportunity to interact with the pros during and after the ride.
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Some of the pros who took part were 17-time Tour de France competitor George Hincapie of Greenville, S.C., Christian Vande Velde, Ty Magner, Matthew Busche, John Murphy and Jonny Clarke (both on Team UHC Pro Cycling), Lauren Hall and Lauren Komanski (both on Team Twenyty16), and of course, Brent Bookwalter (Team BMC Racing) and Jamie Bookwalter, who is retired from pro cycling.
“For a young rider who dreams of racing professionally one day, it was a unique opportunity for Brooks to ride and chat with some of the best pros in the U.S.,” Susan said. “We can't wait to come back and do it all over again next year. What Brent and Jamie have created is magical and we are honored to be a part of it. The best part of all about participating in the Binge is that Brent and Jamie are using the proceeds every year to give back to their community and I love supporting that!”
The ride this year was a benefit for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, an Asheville-based land trust that works to preserve land for conservation across Western North Carolina.
You can read the original story here: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/sports/outdoors/girls-gone-outdoors/2015/11/04/hundreds-turn-out-bookwalter-binge/75158998/