By JESSICA WELSHANS
RENOVO - The Central Mountains ATV Association along with the Relay for Life team from the Bucktail Medical Center held the Renovo ATV Cruise for a Cure held June 8.
The 50-mile guided ride gave enthusiasts of all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles a chance to kick back and enjoy a nice trip through beautiful state forest as well as to help raise money in the fight against cancer.
About 127 riders, with 42 passengers, turned out for the event, which raised about $5,000.
"Three years ago, for some reason, cancer seemed to be taking a heavier-than-usual toll on our families and friends. Deaths, new diagnoses, recurrences ... cancer had a grip on our psyche and did not appear to be ready to take a holiday. People were wondering why so many in our area were suffering from the disease. There was good reason to be concerned," said Rich Wykoff, chairman for the Renovo Cruise for a Cure.
Members of the Relay for Life team met with the ATV association to discuss a project that could life the spirits of area residents and those affected by cancer, Wykoff said. At the same time, they wanted to raise a significant amount of money for cancer research.
The first time the cruise was held about 50 riders showed.
"That's steady growth, having tripled participation in that three-year span. About half of the riders rode in the first two events. One club from southeast Pennsylvania has placed this event on its annual ride calendar," Wykoff said. "Best of all, we are seeing more participants riding as cancer survivors, care-givers or in honor of someone who is a survivor or who has succumbed to cancer. We are very optimistic about the continued success of this event in 2014."
The ATV association isn't aware of any similar events in the state.
The route for his year's ride was a new one, Wykoff said. It started with a loop around Renovo and to Heritage Park before heading up Boone Road and onto forestry roads, swaths cut for a powerline and pipelines, trails and a township road on the way to Cross Fork.
"The return trip included a rest stop at Quiet Oaks Campground and a loop around the top of the mountain above Renovo near the 'flagpole' vista before returning to Heritage Park for a chicken barbecue dinner sponsored by Frank and Susan Mills and the BMC Relay For Life team," he said.
The event is billed as "family-safe," which means experienced guides from the Central Mountains ATV Association rode in the front and back of each group of 25 to 30 riders. The top speed was 15 mph, with slow-down zones to view the vistas along the route.
"Individuals, clubs, families even a few pet dogs rode. All riders provide proof that they and their machines meet state guidelines for riding an ATV on Pennsylvania roadways and sanctioned trails," he said.
Stops were planned throughout the ride.
"Two stops were planned for bathroom breaks and stretching, with a 20-minute stop scheduled at Quiet Oaks Campground for relaxing, snacking and playing ATV games," he said.
Dave and Carla Flack, owners of Quiet Oaks Campground, helped out
with the rest stops, and Renovo Fire Co. provided a wash station in Heritage Park for ATVs.
The community of Renovo came out to support the ride, too. The town was decorated in purple to honor survivors and remember loved ones who have died from cancer. Business fronts and houses were decorated in purple, some with signs and slogans painted on the windows.
"The Relay team lined the parade route with American Cancer Society message signs to remind us of the reasons for Relay. New this year were purple flags that could be purchased at the registration booth for use as banners of remembrance, similar to the intent of luminaries at Relay for Life," Wykoff said.
Those who were riding honored those who passed by attaching to their ATVs flags inscribed with their names.
"Along Erie Avenue, the names of survivors and cancer victims were posted. There was a significant increase in the number of sponsors this year. Overall response from the community has been positive as it has been with the participants," Wykoff said.
The weather was perfect, he said, for the ride. Rain the day before and a shower earlier helped to eliminate the dust that was common on previous rides.
"It was a bit muddy in some places, which actually added to the enjoyment of the ride. Heat was not an issue this year due to an overcast sky that held for the entire event. The sun appeared late in the afternoon, long after the last relay had returned to Renovo for the barbecue chicken dinner," Wykoff said.
Wykoff credited the Renovo fire and police departments and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Forest District 10 with helping to ensure the ride happened.
"The event is specifically designed to use roads and trails that are not open for riding at any other time. This event involves coordination with private property owners, municipalities, state agencies and volunteer organizations," he said.
Safety is stressed during the ride, which has been sanctioned for the past two years by the American Motorcyclists Association.
Without the help and support of state Rep. Michael K. Hanna Sr., D-Lock Haven, and his legislative assistant, Mitzi Gallagher, Wykoff said they were able to use state highways and forest roads and trails. Cooperation is essential, especially with agencies such as DCNR?and the state Department of Transportation.
"The permitting process is convoluted and, at times, very discouraging. Without the permits, we are dead in the water. Thanks to Mike and Mitzi, we now have a good working relationship with those particularly important agencies. We are indeed grateful for their help," he said.
For more images and videos of the event, visit www.facebook.com/groups/renovoatvcruiseforacure.