Tour de Shunk takes off: Annual century ride raises money for cancer fund
About 200 cyclists from the area and beyond rode in Sunday's 15th annual Tour de Shunk, a four-county century ride to raise money for a regional cancer organization.
The ride has raised thousands of dollars for cancer-related charities since its founding, organizers said. This year, proceeds from the Tour de Shunk will go to the Think Big Foundation at Geisinger's Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville, Pa., which assists the families of pediatric cancer patients.
The tour also donates to three local fire companies that assist with operations on the day of the race and will donate to area food pantries this year as well, said organizer Steve Sliwinski.
Sunday's ride began at Rocky's Bike Shop, off Route 414 in Monroeton, and followed a course that measures slightly over 100 miles.
The century ride is a rite of passage for cyclists, Sliwinski said, and the Tour de Shunk has been voted one of the most challenging by Bicycling magazine. The route, about 30 miles of which was adapted this year due to construction, features three major climbs.
The ride's reputation draws not only local cyclists, but those from all over the country and of all ages. Cyclists typically come from several states, and sometimes other countries, to travel the course, said ride director Greg White.
"It's a very challenging century ride, but that's what makes it fun," White said. Despite the ride's popularity, "it stays a nice, small event," he said.
Tour directors - including White, Sliwinski and Chris Crandall - put hundreds of hours into planning the ride each year, "but in the end, it's worth it," Sliwinski said. "Every one of us has a sense of community spirit."
Volunteers follow the riders, assisting those with mechanical or other issues, and help with race operations. A dedicated core of about 30 volunteers helps the race run smoothly, and Rocky's has always generously allowed the tour to start and end on its grounds, Sliwinski said.
After the ride, participants were treated to free food, including a spaghetti dinner, and the use of a massage tent.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.