WHAT'S IN A NAME?
While the original Cyclepaths team members first rode together in the second year of the annual Eastern North Carolina MS Bike Tour in 1990, they did not appear as an official team until 1993, when they won the Best Team Name Award. Retired Cyclepath Darlene Creech is credited with coming up with the team name. While the Cyclepaths have raised a lot of money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the team members also have enjoyed the friendships and the April-to-September team training rides. Each training ride is fully supported by volunteer Support and Gear vehicle (SAG wagon) drivers and is meticulously charted in map and cue sheet formats.
Captain Emeritus and team founder, Dave Holmes, first rode in the Tour in 1990 and completed his 25th MS Bike Tour at age 77 in 2016. Ken Williams rode with Captain Dave in those early years before the Cyclepaths were the Cyclepaths. Judge Bob Bryant, is another early team member who continues to ride with the Cyclepaths. Bob has ridden in 25 Tours, first in support of and now in memory of his brother Larry, who passed away from complications related to MS in 2008. Larry was the inspiration for the team. Dave, Bob, Ken Williams, Tom Andrews and Lynn Burleson have ridden in twenty or more North Carolina MS Bike Tours.
Tom Andrews joined the team in 2005 and has ridden in 22 Tours. He was the top individual fundraiser in 2013, 2015, and 2016, raising $23,420, $24,222 and $22,720 respectively. Through the 2016 Tour, Tom has raised a jaw-dropping $225,000. Tom will be 79 years old by the time the 2017 Tour arrives and as always, he will ride 150 miles over the weekend- no more and no less.
While the average age of the personalities listed above may be in the upper 60’s, most of the Cyclepaths are in their 30’s and 40’s. There have also been high school aged cyclists riding with the team. The team watched Cyclepaths Bill and Cole Warren’s children, Hunter and Issac, grow up on the team, first as volunteers for the Tour and then as cyclists. By having three separate routes of three separate distances for each training ride, Cyclepaths of all ages and abilities are usually able to find riding companions of comparable abilities. While the Cyclepaths are a team, they are not a racing team, not that some of the stronger riders can’t hold their own with the speedsters of Bike MS.
Cyclepath Leadership and Riders
The Cyclepaths have been fortunate to have had great team captains over the years. Captain Dave Holmes founded the team and led it through its first decade. Captain Dave did everything for the team during those years, including mapping the training ride routes long before the availability of GPS devices. Bob Bryant, Lynn Burleson, Gaines Weaver, Jenny Bradley, Cole Warren and Cindy Chastang are other Cyclepaths who have stepped forward to captain the team.
It was under Lynn’s leadership in 2003 when the team exploded from 3 to 64 riders and from $5,700 to $57,000 in contributions in a single year. Two years later, the team raised over $100,000 and has accomplished that feat every year thereafter.
Many team members have stepped up to handle specific duties during a season such as the scheduling of the SAG wagon drivers and the actual driving of the SAG wagons for training rides. Cyclepath Tommy Fitzgerald, owner of the Grocery Bag in Clayton, has been very generous in allowing us to store our coolers and fill them with ice from the back of his store at the training ride staging area. Becky Flowers has also been generous in allowing us to start our training rides on Flowers Plantation property for almost the entire history of the team. Richard Hibbits has been handling the route master duties for a number of years and carefully maps out the three routes for each of the Saturday morning training rides from April until the Tour in September. Richard and his Cyclepath wife Ford have hosted the annual summer potluck Cyclepaths dinner for many years, giving the Cyclepaths the opportunity to socialize off of the bike and to meet non-cyclist significant others.
North Carolina Bike Tours of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The first annual MS Bike Tour, for what was then the Eastern North Carolina Chapter, was held in 1989. Most of the early tours prior to 1998 were called “Break Loose to the Neuse,” with riders starting and finishing in Greenville, North Carolina, spending one night at Camp Sea Gull, near Oriental. The Tour was known as “Beach or Bust” from 1998 through 2000 when the riders pedaled from Clayton to Emerald Isle, with an overnight stay in Kinston. Riders and bikes were bused and trucked back to Clayton. Since 2001, the tour has been held in New Bern with consecutive day loops originating and ending on the New Bern waterfront.
Prior to 2012, there were three North Carolina Chapters of the National MS Society. The Mid-Atlantic Chapter covered South Carolina and western North Carolina and hosted 14 Walk MS events and the Breakaway to the Beach Bike Tour. The Central North Carolina Chapter covered the central part of North Carolina and hosted 6 Walk MS events and the Tour to Tanglewood bike event. The Eastern North Carolina Chapter hosted 5 Walk MS events and the Historic New Bern Bike Tour. By 2014, all of these Chapters had merged into the Greater Carolinas Chapter.
The 2016 Historic New Bern Bike Tour and 2017 Goals
In 2016, the Historic New Bern Bike Tour was the largest MS Bike Tour in the Southeastern United States and the eleventh largest in the country. Nineteen hundred cyclists and 650 volunteers raised a total of $1.76 million. In 2017, the Historic New Bern Tour hopes to raise $1.9 million.
In 2016, the Cyclepaths registered 79 riders and raised $101,500. Thirty-three of the Cyclepaths achieved Jewelry Boomerang status by raising at least $1,000 each. Ten of those Cyclepaths became 100 Club members by joining the ranks of the top 100 individual fundraisers. In 2012, the Selma Cyclepaths became the first team in the history of the North Carolina MS bike tours to raise over $1 million. In 2014, the team received the Circle of Distinction award as the first North or South Carolina MS bike team to cross the $1 million contribution threshold.
Fundraising History of the Cyclepaths
Since becoming an official team in 1993, the Cyclepaths have registered as few as three riders and as many as one hundred twenty in a single year. Cyclepaths fundraising totals have been as little as $1,520 and as much as $134,452. The Cyclepaths have had two third-place finishes, four second-place finishes and nine first-place finishes. Going into the 2017 Tour, the Selma Cyclepaths have raised a total of $1,564,996 in support of MS research and programs.