Going the distance: Stampede on Chisholm Trial charity bike ride attracts 116 cyclists | Region

BELTON — A record 116 cyclists took part in Saturday’s Stampede on the Chisholm Trail, a bike ride to benefit the charities and programs of the Belton Lions Club.

John Corsi, club president, said participants showed great enthusiasm for the race, the event’s 11th year.

“I think people are just thrilled to be out there,” he said.

The oldest runner was 78 and the youngest 14, he said. The ride continues to attract more runners from across the state, he said.

“We are very lucky to have a great community to help support this,” he said.

Runners chose one of four routes, from 12 to 62 miles. The shortest route was from Harris Community Center to Paddy Hamilton Road. The routes followed county roads through Belton, Nolanville and Salado. On their return trip, the longest routes took the walking and biking trail and ended at the Harris Community Splash Pad, where the volunteers had hot dogs on the grill.

Belton Fire Chief Jon Fontenot, also a Lions Club member, said his job was to keep track of runners. In the event of a breakdown, crews were ready to help fix the bike or “load them up and bring them back,” he said.

Bruce Thacker, 69, of Gatesville was one of the first runners to return to the community center. He said he rode his bike once or twice a week.

“It’s shorter than what I normally ride,” he said. “My legs are a little stiff today.”

He rode FM 93 with a group of bikers, amid lots of flashing lights, he said.

“You hope you are seen,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve driven here. It’s a nice road. People are friendly.

It’s one of the smaller rides he’s been on, he said.

“I did Conquer the Coast, which is a circular loop around Corpus Christi Bay,” he said.

He did other rides in Texas towns in Italy and Paris.

He wears special shoes with clips that fit the pedals, he said.

“Equipment doesn’t have to be a lot of gear,” he said of regular bike riding. “You can ride a bike like you did when you were a kid, except you have to wear a helmet.”

He has a few scars on his head, after hitting concrete steps and an iron fence, “during my training days as a kid. There were no helmets back then.

He said he could ride at Clifton in May. Their routes range from 20 to 60 miles, he said.

“Right now I’m just working on getting back into shape,” he said. “I haven’t done much for the past two years.”

Ted Nophsker, 71, from Hurst also started on the 12-mile route, mountain biking,

“I had equipment problems so I had to turn around and come back,” he said.

He attends similar events about twice a month, he said. Last weekend he cycled 42 miles in Muenster.

He typically runs about 10 miles twice a week, he said. The mountain bike is smoother, he says, because it has front and rear shocks.

He said his wife, Pam, was still on the road, heading out for the 62-mile route. She would probably blame him for his race, he said.

Elna M. Lemons