Cyclists from across North Texas will sweep through the roads of Wise County’s Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands Saturday, Aug. 2, as part of the Eighter From Decatur Bike Rally.
The second annual event, sponsored by Wise Electric Cooperative and First Financial Bank, offers a course that winds through up to 55 miles of rolling hills between Decatur, Alvord, Forestburg and Greenwood.
Entry fees for the rally will benefit Raquel’s Wings for Life, a locally-based charity that flies cancer patients to a medical center of their choosing free of charge.
Fabio LaBrada, the charity’s founder and pilot, said last year’s ride helped several patients get the treatment they needed. This year’s event is poised to be even larger.
“Last year, it was way better than we thought,” LaBrada said. “This year, even more people are getting involved.”
LaBrada has been training to participate in the ride.
“I’m just warning you, the 25 miles is very deceiving,” he said. “I did it last Sunday. On the way there it was a piece of cake – on the way back, not so much.”
Kelly Myers, assistant general manager of Wise Electric, is a cyclist as well. Myers said he and other staff members, along with some at First National Bank, came together to plan the event after enjoying similar events elsewhere.
“We thought with us riding bikes that we ought to have something in the Decatur area,” he said.
Other events like the Springtown Bike Rally, the Weatherford Peach Pedal and the Graham Possum Pedal have inspired Decatur’s rally. Myers said planners incorporated the most positive aspects from each into the Eighter from Decatur event. That includes five rest stops, medals for finishers and a free meal for riders after they complete the route.
And the Decatur rally offers a more personal touch as well.
“We had homemade cookies last year at one stop so this year we’re doing homemade cookies at all the stops,” Myers said.
This year’s ride will also feature increased signage – including large signs warning motorists to pass cyclists with care as well as repetitive route marking for the riders. LaBrada said he hopes more awareness will benefit both the riders and passing motorists.
Planning the event is no small task, he noted.
“It’s big,” he said. “It even goes down to talking to the local farmers and saying ‘Keep your dogs away from the road.'”
It’s worth it, though, Myers said, for a good cause.
“Last year we were right around 200 people. If we get 400 this year, I’ll be really happy,” he said. “Actually, anything we get, I’ll be really excited because we’re already making money for this charity.
“I know it’s a lot of work, but it really does make you feel good when you can do something like that.”
To register early for the Eighter From Decatur Bike Rally, go to active.com or call 940-626-3006. On-site registration is 7 a.m., the day of the ride, which starts at 8.