Four years ago, members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Concord started talking about a new way to support Cooperative Christian Ministry, which provides crisis assistance in Cabarrus and southern Rowan counties.
All Saints’ is one of six churches that helped establish CCM in 1981, and raising funding for the ministry is an annual goal.
Church member Ragan Kearns said that the previous fundraiser, a country fair, had “fizzled to a great, big, ol’ yard sale,” and the church was looking for something new.
Several church members who are avid cyclists suggested sponsoring a ride, and the Tour de Saints was born.
Aug. 29 will mark the third running of the tour, which Kearns is quick to point out, is not a race, but a ride. “We don’t keep time, and we don’t give out prizes,” he said. The goal is to appeal to lots of people who want to ride their bikes for a great cause.
In 2013, the Tour de Saints raised $5,000 for CCM and collected more than 500 pounds of food. Last year was even better, with 192 cyclists and donations of almost $7,000 and 900 pounds of food. Kearns hopes the trend will continue this year with more participation, riders and donations.
Tour de Saints offers options for every cyclist. More experienced riders can choose 100K and 50K distances, and there’s a Family Fun Ride, a 10-mile loop that includes the Concord Greenway. All rides start and end at All Saints’ Church. Kids younger than 16 can participate for free, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
The routes will take participants all around the county. Jim Williams, a member of All Saints’ and an avid cyclist, says that within a few miles of downtown Concord, you can be out in the countryside, enjoying rolling hills and beautiful views.
Kearns says that the route planners choose “the most enjoyable parts of the county” for the tour, adding that it is one third uphill, one third downhill, and one third flat.
The Tour de Saints, Williams said, is one of the biggest rides in Cabarrus County and is popular because it’s well-organized, well-supported, and has the added benefit of helping a local charity.
Part of that organization and support includes the rest stops along the ride’s route. As other churches have joined in supporting the tour, and members there host rest stops, Kearns said, where cyclists can use the restroom, and get a drink or snack, often something homemade and delicious.
Williams has known riders to turn around and go back to a rest stop for a treat. But Kearns cautions, “If you eat a brownie at every stop, you’ll consume more calories than you burn.”
The tour ends with a lunch at All Saints’ which, says Williams, kind of turns into a party, celebrating a day of fun and helping.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer: EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com
For more information on the Tour de Saints, or to register, visit www.TourdeSaints.com. All Saints’ Episcopal Church is at 525 Lake Concord Road in Concord.