Tour de Kale…14 years and still rolling
By Kelly Bledsoe
Fourteen years and still rolling…still growing…still
improving…and still making a difference in someone’s life. That’s Tour de Kale.
The Tour de Kale has evolved over the past fourteen years into an extremely well executed and highly anticipated
event in the cycling and running world. Riders from all over the southeast mark off the third Saturday in June for this premiere
event. Riders and runners return year after year, catching up with old friends and making new ones all for the sake of helping
someone in their time of need.
Tour de Kale is a benefit bike ride with
benefits. TDK was founded in February 2000, by a group of friends who envisioned hosting a benefit bike ride and 5K run to
help raise money to cover the medical expenses of namesake Kale Watkins after a skiing accident left him paralyzed. The event
has continued to grow thanks to dedicated riders who are willing to go the extra mile and raise money for this wonderful cause.
TDK drew an amazing response right from the get-go and continues to be
a superbly organized event with very scenic routes, awesome support from local volunteers, and a good lunch at the end of
the ride. Members of the Tour de Kale committee work diligently throughout the year to ensure that the Tour de Kale remains
one of the best rides and run in the Southeast.
Joe Hutchins, of Clemmons, NC and an eleven-year veteran of TDK says,
“This is my favorite event of the year. I met Kale my first year riding and he is my inspiration.” Kale remains
the inspiration for the event and the reason behind the day. Tour de Kale’s only goal is to promote fitness and help
others who are less fortunate.
This year approximately 340 cyclist participated
in the event and TDK was well represented with riders from over 15 teams. Chair City Cyclist, headquartered in Thomasville,
NC and owned and operated by Lynn Staley turned out huge for TDK. They brought the most the most riders with just under 30.
VeloShine was next in line with another large group as always.
the men’s division include first place by Ryan Jenkins of Team Classic Cycling. Ryan is one of the best cyclist in the
southeast having won almost every long distance mountain ride multiple times and every road race that exists. He is also an
extremely accomplished time trailer.
Second place went to Chris Harkey of
VeloShine Men’s Team. Chris is a multi-time National Champion. Third place went to two-time National Champion Scottie
Weiss (USA), 2013 Assault on Mt. Mitchell Champion. Fourth place went to Jacob Arnold and fifth place went to Luke Sagur.
Lori Harkey was the women’s Summit Challenge winner. She is an extremely strong
rider from VeloShine who has won many races over the past few years. Second place went to Arynn Schloemer of Bicycle Toy and
Hobby. Third place went to Keli McDowell. Both of these ladies are accomplished riders and recently finished second and third
in last year’s Bridge to Bridge.
The 5k run was a huge success this
year with 254 runners up 100 runners from last year. The format was changed for the first time this year to incorporate a
“Glow Run” and volunteers and cheer groups lined the street encouraging the runners. Special thanks to Mike Lanier
and his Boy Scout Troop, Amanda Russell and her Girl Scout Troop, and Nancy Martin and The Horseman’s Association for
organizing these cheer groups.
Peter Asciutto, owner of Vac and Dash in
Albemarle really helped promote the event and the “Tour de Kale Band” entertained the crowd in Harrison Park.
Winners from the race received a cash prize and a plaque. Women’s first place winner was Jennifer Parks at 20:09. Second
place went to Shannon Davis at 20:32, and third place went to Connie Eckman at 24:48. In the men’s division first place
went to Seth Utley at 17:59, second place went to Will Mitchell at 18:06, and third place went to Joe Sauerbrey at 18:17.
A complete listing of results along with addition photos can be found at www.tourdekale.com.