At 5 pm on Saturday, Sept. 16, a rider finished her very first Century. Two members of the Communications team, the sweep SAG driver, and I were there to cheer her in and celebrate with her and her two friends who were also waiting. Yes she was the last rider. The 2017 edition of the Heart of Virginia Bicycle Festival was officially in the history books!
And cheer we did, for her, but more importantly, for all of RABA and all of the riders and volunteers who contributed to make this edition of the HoVA a truly memorable one, whether you were doing your first century or your 50th. Whether you were the first one finishing, or the last. Whether you were doing a metric century, or celebrating finishing 35 miles. Indeed, some athletes that RABA welcomed found great joy in finishing 11 miles. I could not be more proud for, and of, all of you.
I am proud of the committee of folks I was elected to chair. Most of them have been working on the HoVA for longer than I have been a RABA member. Bud Vye was telling me stories about the genesis of this ride going back into the ’80’s. Our committee- your committee, really- works for 9 or 10 months to make this event happen. Every one of them deserves thanks for their contributions.
I am proud of the RABA members who chose to volunteer to work that day instead of riding their bikes. RABA members are passionate about their rides, and for a member to think that helping someone else have a great ride is more important than riding themselves is a wondrous thing. We also had volunteers from the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, and some from other sources. Every volunteer at the rest stops, at the lunch tent, and taking care of others all inspired riders with smiles, and encouragement.
I am proud of the Communications crew, the SAG drivers, and the SOS riders. The unexpected road construction on Edgar Road created lots of issues- one SAG driver reported changing more flats than he has ever seen at an event. Luckily, the first SAG driver to get to the construction crew was an engineer who spoke reason and convinced them to postpone their work until after our event. While there were few issues, Communications, SAG drivers, and SOS riders were instrumental in supporting all riders.
I am proud of the dozens of volunteers who worked before the event to mark all of the turns on all of the courses, visiting close to 100 intersections to paint arrows and place signs. Others volunteered to deliver supplies and tents and goods to the rest stops. Some volunteered to work registration events or to help direct riders to parking spots. Volunteers set up the tables and chairs, and served lunch. More than 100 volunteers make this event special for the 600 riders who ride it.
I am proud of the riders, many of whom were achieving personal bests. Most, or all, were riding to have fun and enjoy the comraderie and the beautiful central Virginia scenery. They were not disappointed. The ride is a joy unto itself.
I am proud of the sponsors. We lost our Platinum sponsor earlier in the year. BUT if you look at your cue sheet or noticed the map, or go to our webpage, you will see a multitude of smaller sponsors who stepped up! I couldn’t be prouder of these friends of RABA. People and businesses think we are important to our -and their- communities, and therefore support us. And, on a personal note, the RABA HoVA Training Team, which I coached with 9 great ride leaders and 53 registered riders, contributed more than $500 to become a Silver Sponsor. People and businesses stepped up for our event, and for our charity partners.
I am proud that all of these things will contribute to our ability to make sizable donations to Bikes For Kids and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.
But mostly I am proud of the Richmond Area Bicycling Association, whose members stepped up to volunteer, ride, and support our most important annual event, and which helps defines us as an organization. So lets see; great rider experience, check. Great volunteer involvement, check. Great support to our charity partners, check.
RABA worthy event, CHECK!
I am proud of us. It is a good day to be a RABA member!
-Gregg Hillmar, Heart of Virginia Bike Festival Chair
Note: See more Heart of Virginia Bike Festival photos by Alan Cooper here.