Eric Trinka (center) gets Bike Shenandoah riders ready for the five-mile family ride. There were five rides: 100 miles, 62, 30, 15, and 5 miles. Photo by Mary Eicholtz / Your Thousand Words Photography

One hundred and seven riders, a 55% increase from last year, enjoyed a trek through the Shenandoah Valley on a beautiful fall day as they “cycled for service” in Bike Shenandoah, now in its 15th year.

Bikers choose between a challenging 100-mile journey and an easy five mile jaunt, or something in between, as they traversed Harrisonburg’s back roads on September 22. Participants paid $5,330 in fees while raising about $6,466 from individual sponsorships with an additional $5,936 coming from corporate sponsors, totaling approximately $17,732.

Donations benefit four agencies: Virginia Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Central Committee, MennoMedia and the Northend Greenway.

A bicycle technician, six HAM radio operators, three support vehicle personnel, rest area hosts and the coordinating committee provided assistance throughout the day to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all participants.

The fun and camaraderie were palpable as individual riders, couples and families gathered at the start or returned after their ride to enjoy a hot burrito meal provided by Heather Cribb and her team. Many commented on the excellent snacks available at the three rest areas: Mole Hill Bikes, Lindale and Mt. Clinton Mennonite churches. Others noted Jay Leaman’s untiring efforts to improve the routes.

Bike Shen is an event you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendars for next year’s ride on Saturday, September 21.

This article originally appeared in Virginia Mennonite Conference’s Connections magazine, and was written by Steve Carpenter.