LUMBERTON — Liz Overduin has ridden a 1200K bike ride in her home country of Canada, but this morning she began a similar journey in Lumberton.
“If you ride in a 1200K in Canada and one in America, there’s a medal for that,” said Overduin, who lives in Toronto. “Plus, I always wanted to see North Carolina.”
Overduin was one of about 50 riders who strapped on helmets and reflecting lights and set off in the dark from the Super 8 in Lumberton at 6 a.m. in the Bicycle for Life’s Taste of Carolina 1200K. The ride will take bicyclists 1,200 kilometers — 750 miles — through eastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks, and into southern Virginia before a U-turn takes them back to Lumberton on Sunday.
Tony Goodnight, the ride’s organizer, picked Lumberton as the starting point. He said the ride is not a competition, but is part of the sport of randonneuring, or long-distance cycling. While there is no pressure to come in first, Goodnight said riders compete for other forms of recognition.
“Riders get to earn credit for doing the event,” he said. “They can earn medals for rides.”
Goodnight said in order to receive credit for Taste of Carolina, riders must return to Lumberton by midnight on Sunday.
“It’s 90 hours from start to finish and all the time counts,” including time taken to eat and sleep, he said.
Jacob Anderson, who came to Lumberton from Virginia Beach, Va., to ride, said ambition is driving him to complete the ride.
“It’s a personal challenge, really,” he said. “It’s like climbing Mt. Everest for a hiker.”
Keith Sutton, also from Virginia Beach, said randonneuring began in France in the early 1900s. He said 1200K rides are rare in America.
“In this sport … it’s kind of the longest one they have,” he said. “Until three or four years ago they only had one or two in the U.S.”
Goodnight said the ride encourages “fitness, health and camaraderie” as well as a scenic view of the state.
“The year before, we started in Goldsboro,” he said. “We tried to open more of the state to riders.”
For information about Bicycle for Life or randonneuring, visit www.bicycleforlife.org.