HESPERIA — Laces tied and sweatbands on, cyclists readied themselves at the starting line as they rode across the High Desert for the 2nd Annual Victor Valley Bicycle Tour in honor of two local bicycle enthusiasts who died this year.

The morning event kicked off Saturday morning near Mountain Vista and Main Street in Hesperia with a 100-mile ride as riders took off as early as 8 a.m. to pedal their way to the finish line with 3rd District Assemblyman Jay Obernolte leading the pack.

Also, other riders could participated in a 63-mile ride, a 25-mile ride, and a 10-mile family ride.

“We have a great group of riders this year with about 80 people having signed up to participate,” said VVBT President Thurston “Smitty” Smith. “With it only being the 2nd annual event, we see it’s growing each year and hopefully it keeps growing throughout the whole Victor Valley.”

According to Smith, the mission of the Victor Valley Bicycle Tour is to raise awareness of safe bicycling and to promote cycling as a healthy lifestyle for both recreation and transportation.

This year’s tour was held in honor of Chuck Hanson and Carol Pulice, who died in July and September, respectively.

Hanson started the Chuck Hanson Tour de Apple Valley, which eventually transformed into the Victor Valley Bicycle Tour, and Pulice was an avid bicycle enthusiast, Smith previously told the Daily Press.

“My husband and I love to ride. It’s not only a great way to get some exercise in, but there are a lot of local riders out here and something like this is a really good cause,” said Nancy Fuller, of Apple Valley, as she and her husband left in their tangent bike. “I love to take pictures while we bike together, although my husband tells everyone I don’t help with the pedaling.”

This year’s ride involved the century and metric century riders facing challenges of the many steep hills in Oak Hills, while also enjoying the high speed flat sections of Apple Valley.

“We love Smitty and all that he does for the community and us bikers. This is a great way for us to come out and enjoy each other’s company and bond over something we all love doing,”said David Rib, of Apple Valley.

All proceeds from the Tour will be used to promote California’s “3 feet for safety” act in the High Desert, which requires drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of space before passing.

The money will be used to purchase permanent bicycle-safety signage to be displayed throughout the High Desert’s three largest municipalities.

Source: Monica Solano, Daily Press