After enduring wind and rain through most of this year’s bike ride to raise money for the Chil-dren’s Miracle Network, the riders had great weather Sunday as they pedaled from Chattanooga to Cartersville.
“Today is only the second sunny day we’ve had since leaving Chicago,” said Dennis Toth, from Princeton, Ill. “Today was really nice.”
The first three days of this leg “were very difficult,” said Mike Rehmer of Chicago, “but today’s ride out of Chattanooga was just magnificent. What a beautiful part of the state.”
Terri Vertullo, who works at Ace Hardware’s Oakbrook, Ill., corporate headquarters, said riders learned to handle the rain during the first portion of the 450-mile leg from Louisville, Ken., to At-lanta. The first leg of this year’s tour went 350 miles from Chicago to Louisville.
“You just adjust to what you’ve got,” Vertullo said. She said this is her second tour. “Last year, I rode from Chicago to St. Louis and decided to keep doing it.”
David Karsten, who owns three Ace Hardware stores in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, said this is his fifth Tour de Kids.
“I’ve been cycling for the past 15 years,” Karsten said during Sunday’s lunch stop at Best Friends Animal Hospital in Calhoun. “The tour puts together two things I love — cycling and helping peo-ple.”
Peter Psenicka, who owns Best Friends Animal Hospital with his wife Jodi Sexton, said Tour de Kids officials contacted them about providing a lunch stop when they were scouting this year’s route.
“We’d like to host events like this every year,” Psenicka said.
Sunday’s route went 91 miles from Chattanooga through Chickamauga, LaFayette, Calhoun and Adairsville on the way to Cartersville.
Chris Shepherd, the advance man for the 23 riders, said the Ace Hardware Foundation has raised $41 million for the Children’s Miracle Network since 1991. The foundation’s Tour de Kids, now in its seventh year, has raised $3.2 million.
The riders include Ace Hardware corporate personnel, Ace Hardware storeowners, vendors and this year an Ace Hardware customer who raised the $5,000 to ride in one of the ride’s two legs. Eighteen riders completed the first leg of this year’s Tour de Kids and 23 are riding the second leg. Four of the riders are doing both legs, Shepherd said.