ELKIN — Surry County, specifically the southern portions of the county, is preparing for an invasion, with as many as 1,000 cyclists expected to pedal their way into Elkin Sunday.
The riders of part of the 19th-Annual Cycle NC Mountains to Coast Ride, which will depart from Jefferson today and end in Swansboro on Oct. 7 with stops in Oak Ridge, Chapel Hill, Knightdale, Wilson, and Kinston.
And of course, Elkin.
The first night of the 456-mile tour on Sunday will be here, where Adam McComb and his team from the Elkin Recreation Department (as well as other entities) have prepared to host most of them at Crater Park.
“The town of Elkin, Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce and Explore Elkin is excited to host Cycle NC this weekend at the Elkin Municipal Park and in Historic Downtown Elkin,” McComb said.
“Locals who plan a park visit will need to expect large crowds in the park and playground area all day Sunday. The Elkin Recreation Center will be closed to the public on Sunday and reopen Monday at noon to host our visitors. The cyclists will be leaving Monday morning so we also ask parents taking their children to Elkin City Schools to be careful and mindful of cyclists on the road.”
Traveling with this group will be local resident and professional cyclist Devin Reavis, who credits the annual ride and his mother as the inspiration for his career path.
“The first year I participated in the Cycle North Carolina I actually realized that I was capable of more than I thought,” said Reavis, who was 10 at the time and the youngest to have participated in the annual ride.
Reavis had only just learned to ride a bike.
”A lot people find that really funny,” said Reavis. “It took me until I was 9 years old to learn how to ride a bicycle without training wheels, then that next year I rode across the state with my dad and a few years down the road here I am racing bicycles with professionals. It just goes to show that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and you work hard.”
It also took encouragement and tough love from his mom.
“One of the days we were about 20 miles away from where we were camping that night. I was tired and was trying to stay with my dad and his friends,” Reavis said, which led to an accident that caused a bent front wheel and handle bars.
“I was lying flat on my stomach. I was in tears and they got me out of the road as fast as possible.” When Reavis’ dad called his mom — she was waiting ahead at the camp site — he didn’t get the reaction he expected.
“He explained to her what happened and she tells him to get me back on the bike,” Reavis said. “[I was a] little 10-year old who just wrecked for the first time, all beaten up, in tears. I thought that there was no way I would be able to ride the rest of the way to the camp.”
Having been checked by a nurse who was traveling with them, Reavis was physically ready, but it took a conversation with his mom to get him back on his bike during that first Mountains to Coast Ride.
“Finally my dad handed me the phone to talk to my mom, and she convinced me to get on the bike and keep going. By far the longest 20 miles of my life,” Reavis said, adding that he was grateful for his mom’s influence that day.
“I made it to camp, and now I look back on that with a big smile every time. It makes me laugh even. I proved to myself that I had (what it took) to keep going no matter what.”
“Now that I have been racing for six years, I have many scars from high-speed wrecks, especially from the last two years racing with the professionals,” said Reavis. “All thanks to that experience I had on the CNC and my parents for helping me push through, I became stronger mentally and physically.”
After a season-ending injury in May, Reavis realized he had the opportunity to ride the event again this year.
“This ride is very relaxing. I get to meet a lot of new people, stay in a different town every night, and ride some new roads,” he said. “It’s a different way of enjoying the bike for me. I’m used to going out and following a training plan every day or racing, but with the CNC I get to just ride and not worry about how fast or slow I’m going.
“You camp every night in a new town and get to see parts of North Carolina that you don’t normally get to see. It’s an amazing event,” said Reavis.
To find out more about the Cycle NC Mountains to Coast Ride, go to www.cyclenorthcarolina.org.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.