Cyclists unite to benefit United Way
Grant Gayman of Hagerstown cheers during the United Way "Cycle United" event, Saturday at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown. Teams of eight riders take turns for an hour of cycling each lead by top area cycling instructors benefiting the United Way of Washington County. (By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer)
The faces and postures of the roughly 90 people indoor cycling before her expressed a variety of responses.
One woman in the front let out a spirited “Woohoo!” and even danced to the thumping music with her upper body as she pedaled with her legs.
Dozens of others leaned forward, gazes resolute, determined to finish the job.
Still others slumped over their bike handles, sweat pouring from their brows, occasionally glancing toward the instructor with eyes that begged her to stop.
Between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, more than 500 cyclists went to Valley Mall and got spinning to raise money for the United Way of Washington County at the group’s second Cycle United event.
Addie Nardi, the group’s development director, said Dave Ruff of Ruff Fitness in Hagerstown approached the United Way with the concept for Cycle United last year. He hoped to get different gyms and fitness centers to come together in support of the group.
The inaugural event raised around $30,000. This year by midmorning, proceeds already had surpassed that amount and went on to hit more than $45,000.
Ruff said he hopes Cycle United will help promote physical fitness in community.
“As you know, there is an obesity epidemic. There are a lot of health issues that are brought on by being overweight and most of them are preventable by being physically active,” Ruff said. “Cycling is a great way to get people involved. It’s low impact and anybody can do it.”
Proceeds from the event will go toward the United Way’s annual campaign. But Nardi noted that the United Way is a proponent of healthy living in Washington County and invests in projects to support that. She said she was pleased with the inclusiveness of the event, as children, senior citizens and people with disabilities participated throughout the day.
Eight-member teams comprised of friends, family and business associates pre-registered. Each team had a goal to raise $1,000, though Nardi said the United Way accepted “whatever they were able to raise.” In most cases, each team member cycled for one hour. A small contingent of go-getters took the “Endurance” challenge and cycled the full eight hours. Mark Youngblood, 49, of Hagerstown, was among that group.
“Your legs get sore, your feet get hot spots,” he said, “but it’s mind over matter. You don’t wanna quit.”
Cyclists occupied the former Gap space in the mall. Crowds of people stopped to stare and wave through the glass. Music blared, industrial fans blew toward the cyclists and the lights were dim.
Heather O’Neill of South Pointe Fitness Club, who was instructor during the nine o’clock hour, said the ambiance was good for spinning and helps people focus.
“Everybody was really working hard. You could see it in their faces,” she said.