by Marianne Davis, Back Roads Century Event Planner
The Back Roads Century is not only Potomac Pedaler’s premier cycling event, it also is its most innovative. Shepherdstown is at the center of a prosperous region in a struggling state. An important aspect of becoming a part of this community is giving back, and the PPTC has done that in varied and creative ways. The BRC has come and gone for 2016, but this time the Potomac Pedalers, riders, and volunteers left more behind than memories.
At the Saturday evening pre-ride dinner, PPTC leadership and volunteers raised money to support the Shepherdstown Day Care Center, a fixture in the community. That money will be used in their scholarship fund to ensure that the SDCC can continue to welcome children whose parents would otherwise lack the funds to receive the finest pre-K education and extended care in the region.
Non-profit groups from across the ride area and beyond gathered volunteers to staff the five rest stops and to guide drivers to their parking places. Those warm and welcoming people got up well before dawn to carry hundreds of crates, make sandwiches, fill water jugs, mix energy drinks, and cut fruit for grateful riders. This year, PPTC instituted a program of community grants as a tangible way of thanking the groups that did so much. Recipients included the Potomac Valley Audubon Society; the Boonsboro High soccer team; South Spirit, a middle school show choir and parents; and the 4-H Dairy Club.
New also this year was community lodging. People who live in or near Shepherdstown offered rooms in their homes to riders in return for donations to local non-profits. The Panhandle Pedalers, Friends of the Shepherdstown Library, and BRC sponsor Shepherdstown Visitors Center all benefited from those donations. But more than that, the riders who took up those offers enhanced their visits to West Virginia by meeting some actual West Virginians; people who will be glad to see them year after year.
Finally, the Potomac Pedalers helped Shepherdstown fight the greatest hidden pain in America, hunger. Our donation of food leftover from the rest stops went straight to the Mountaineer Food Bank, which feeds hungry people in Jefferson and Berkeley counties and across the state of West Virginia. MFB officials who gratefully accepted the donation estimated that the food the PPTC gave them would help feed 60 families for an entire week. That’s a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit, and even more goodwill.
We believe that as the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club continues to reach out to local non-profits, Shepherdstown and the region will welcome the BRC even more warmly. The Back Roads Century will become an important date on Shepherdstown non-profits’ calendars, and thus become an important part of that generous community. We thank all of our riders and volunteers for making this year’s Back Roads Century such a great success, and for helping us move toward our goal of making Shepherdstown a home away from home for all of us.