The sun peeked through the trees early Saturday morning promising a beautiful day ahead for more than 300 cyclists who converged on Copperas Cove for the first United States American Cycling event of the year.
The USAC also runs the Olympics and rider preparation for the Tour de France, said Andy Hollinger, who has coordinated the Megan Babb Memorial Ride in Cove for nearly a decade.
“We have pros all the way down to amateurs competing in their first race. They cycled 83 miles at an average of about 25 miles per hour for the pros and around 15 miles an hour for those that were a little slower,” Hollinger said. “It’s a challenging course in Copperas Cove, but we get good support from the city. Police, volunteers, everyone in the city is very friendly.”
The ride is named after Megan Babb, an avid cyclist, who was killed when she was hit head-on by a car while out on a training ride. Proceeds from Saturday’s event will fund college cycling scholarships for women who each receive $2,500 each. Rick Francis, 47, from Mansfield and Stan Kruse, 54, from Arlington, drove three hours for the event.
Francis competed in the 40 plus master’s category and returned to the race for his fifth year this year.
“This is the first test of the season of our general fitness. We know what we need to do to adjust when the season really starts in March. Its a good course with hills and flat roads, so it’s a good tune-up for future races,” Francis said.
Kruse, who travels and trains with Francis, said he enjoyed cycling but also came to this race for the first time this year because of its charitable cause.
Both men used to compete in races with Babb.
“It’s an odd feeling when someone you used to ride with now is gone. But this is a good thing because she is remembered,” Kruse said.
Responsible for tourism in Cove, Chamber of Commerce officials and several volunteers helped execute the event assisting with registration, manning the course, and more.
The event pumps thousands of dollars into the Cove community thanks to out-of-town residents coming in for the race.