A Wild Ride to Yuma Raised Money for Charity

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Bikers ready for the ride to Yuma.
Bikers ready for the ride to Yuma.

Nearly 220 bicyclists, mostly on narrow-rimmed tires, participated in the Yuma 3:10 Charity Fun Ride Saturday, February 27, pushing off at 8 a.m. at the Imperial Valley Mall at Dillard’s parking lot and several hours later pulling into Yuma, Arizona. Velo Club president and ride organizer, Brian McNeece, sang a few lines of the Star Spangled Banner and counted off the start. Yuma was known for its once “state-of-the art” territorial prison where the 3:10 train delivered prisoners from throughout the southwest, hence the name of the annual ride.

The “Fun-ride” was a bit more challenging than expected. One rider said that his high-dollar bicycle “got more wear-and-tear in ten minutes” on what another declared, “should not be called a road,” than the last ten years of riding the bike.

An infraction by a small contingency that rode as a group on I-8 rather than the legal manner of single file, caused all the cyclists to be diverted off the freeway at the Algodones off-ramp and onto the old Highway 80. The three-mile stint resulted in an extremely bumpy ride on 80 through Winterhaven. The lawful riders underwent the grueling conditions alongside the offenders. They all heard a five-minute scolding by the California Highway Patrol that riding as a group in the actual freeway lane scared drivers and the California Highway Patrol. Afterward, they allowed the riders to finish their ride on the smooth freeway shoulder, all now single file. Ticketing so many on the side of a freeway would not have been safe the CHP shared, but were warned they would be ticketed next year.

Roland Pritchard, one of the race organizers, called the Winterhaven police very gracious as tickets could likely have cost each rider $200 in fines. Pritchard also called the El Centro CHP gracious for providing traffic control at a major intersection for the riders on southbound 7 to eastbound 98. “Safety first” was the motto of the day.

Despite being diverted, the cyclists still called the experience “awesome and exciting.” Gluttons for punishment, some non-cyclists might say, to those riding a narrow-seat, lightweight hunk of carbon fiber for sixty miles against a slight headwind, and all for the fun of it.

Riders came from all over the southwest to cycle. For instance, Mike Bailey biked in from San Diego, staying one night in Boulevard and then a night in El Centro. He did the 3:10 to Yuma last year and had his friends join him this year. Retired bicyclist, Jon Snodgrass generally rides 300 miles a week. Rob Bradley, is not yet retired, but manages around 200 miles a week. Both were excited about the charity ride.

The Bike Buddies Cycling Club from Rancho San Diego in the El Cajon area had two women and seven men riding. Three riders came from Parker, Arizona. Five Pedacera.com riders hailed from an Imperial-Mexicali Club. The IV Cycling Club formed two years ago were represented with a number of riders. Their group rides from Bucklin Park every Tuesday evening.

Ray Soto, age 82, a retired truck driver, was among the originators of the hosting IV Velo cyclists. His daughter, retired optometrist Janina Soto, was there to flag him and other riders in on the last turn. The SHS Eagles’ Cycling Club rode for the third year, doubling their numbers. Two of the girls opted to enter the race at the official halfway mark to ride only thirty miles. That option allowed newer riders to end the race in a timely manner along everyone else.

All profits were donated to the Cancer Research Center of the Desert. Major donors to the event to defray costs were Ashurst Pollination, Rush Steel, Strahm Farms, Sanders Architects, Swain & Kennerson Accounting, Emerald Seed, Rogers & Rogers Toyota, Alfords, Radco, Derma’s Floor Coverings, Matt Littrell, David and Blanca Sanchez, Brawley Wal-Mart, and Brawley Vons.

The Imperial Valley Velo Club thanks Jeff Guy at Acme for a number of very large electronic signs cautioning freeway drivers, and Sal at Cal Trans for sweeping the shoulders free of debris in preparation for the ride. They also thank the Southwest Eagle Warriors for staffing the support stops and of course all the involved IV Velo Club members and families.

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