Wheatland Wheelers sponsor safety ride

The Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic raises money for cycling safety across the county.

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WALLA WALLA - The Wheatland Wheelers Cycling Club is sponsoring the sixth annual Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic on Saturday.

Weatherill was a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, a Garrison Middle School teacher, mother and cyclist who was struck and killed by a motorist passing other vehicles on a group bike ride with friends on State Highway 124 between Prescott and Waitsburg on Mother's Day in 2004.

She left behind husband Charles Potts, stepdaughter Emily and daughter Natalie.

In 2005, the Ann Weatherill Safe Passing Law was passed, making it illegal for drivers to pass other vehicles if there are bicyclists, pedestrians or equestrians approaching from the opposite direction on the roadway.

The proceeds go to the Blue Mountain Foundation's "Ann Fund" and the Wheatland Wheelers Cycling Club to promote bicycle safety programs in the Walla Walla Valley. This includes the installation and maintenance of the yellow "Share the Road" signs .

The recreational ride offering three separate routes of 30, 62 and 100 miles. All three routes start at Pioneer Park in Walla Walla and follow portions of largely rural roads in Walla Walla and Umatilla Counties.

According to event organizers, the shorter 30-mile route follows a fairly flat route to encourage and foster participation by families and first-time, occasional or leisure bicyclists.

"One of our goals with this year's ride is to make this more of a community event and increase participation by bringing the ride into Walla Walla and get beginning bicyclists to turn out for the ride," ride director Charles Stanger said. "This is a great sport for people of all ages and abilities and we just want people to get out on their bikes and get some exercise, have fun, and share the experience of the ride.

The 100-mile "Century" Ride starts at 7 a.m., followed by the 62-mile "Metric Century" Ride at 8 a.m. and the 30-mile ride at 9 a.m.

Riders are required to wear a bike helmet and are strongly encouraged to use sunscreen and carry a water bottle.

Besides facilities at Pioneer Park, rest stops with toilets, light snacks and water will be located at various points along the route. There will be volunteers on the course in support vehicles and on bikes to assist bicyclists if needed.

The event is $45 per participant, and pre-registration is encouraged, but riders may still register Pioneer Park on the morning of the ride.

Riders can register at active.com. From there, search for Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic on June 18, 2011.

Call Charles Stanger at 509-520-2288 for more information.

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