JAMES CITY – About 1,000 people, ranging in age from infant to 89 years old, pedaled to Chickahominy River Front Park Monday.
Michael Peterson of Fairfax raced his brother for the last two miles.
"I won," he said. "No, I won," countered Mark Peterson of Milwaukee. The siblings participate in cycling events across the country. After a dozen years of taking part in the Bike Virginia Tour in Shenandoah, they are happy with this year's location.
"It's flatter," Michael said. "We're older."
Bike Virginia is a nonprofit that works to improve the state through biking initiatives. This year marked the 27th annual Bike Virginia Tour, which last visited greater Williamsburg in 2007. "We'd been hearing requests for several years to come back to this location," Executive Director Kim Perry said. She said the six-day event has run smoothly so far with no serious injuries.
Support and gear teams drive vehicles along the routes to assist with mechanical problems and provide rides if necessary. The average participant bikes 40-60 miles a day, though some cover 100 or more. More than 400 miles of route options are available for cyclists.
"We try to take them on a different route every day," Perry said. "The goal is to embrace the beautiful things you see when you slow down and are not inside a car."
Half of the bikers come from out of state, according to Richard Elder, a Bike Virginia board member for 10 years.
"It's about the fresh air," he said. "It's about getting outside and seeing the beautiful countryside. It's probably good for you, too."
Chris Bonnevier has traveled to Virginia from Saint Augustine, Fla. every year since his first ride in 2006. This year he is a volunteer for the event. He said he returns to Virginia to ride for the diversity from mountains to coastline, and because there is so much history.
"I'd say 50 percent are returnees," he said. "They come back for the camaraderie. You meet all kinds of people who share the same passion."
The average age of the cyclists is 54, according to Perry. This year the oldest rider is 89 and the youngest is a baby being pulled in a cart. There are about 20 children biking with families and several children 4-6 years old riding tandem with their parents.
Holtgrieve can be reached at 757-345-2348.