By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
The organizers of the Liberty Freedom Ride to benefit the Liberty ISD Education Foundation are crossing their fingers that April 13 will bring good weather for their event.
“This year we are expecting 300 riders. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. It’s what we are shooting for,” said Bruce Wright, who added that last year’s wet and cold weather caused a decline in attendance to just 135 riders.
All money raised from the bike ride goes toward classroom grants through the Liberty ISD Education Foundation, which was founded in 2007. The ride, in its fourth year, is one of the Foundation’s biggest fundraisers. In years past, the Foundation has held Denim and Diamonds galas. Currently, supporters are hosting designer handbag raffles to raise funds.
“We have given back to the classrooms of Liberty ISD just shy of $200,000 in that time. I am pleased we’ve been able to do this much,” Wright said.
The cost for riders is $35 for advance entry and $40 for entry on the day of the ride. Cyclists will gather on Travis Street between the City of Liberty building and the Liberty County Courthouse. At 8 a.m. the cyclists will set off on one of five rides. The five rides range between 20 and 74 miles, and riders can select the distance based on their own experience and physicality.
“The rides will take anywhere from an hour and a half to several hours. The 20-mile course will take them from Liberty north on SH 146 to Governor’s Road (FM 1011) and up to Hardin. From Hardin, they can return south on SH 146 to Liberty. It would take fairly good riders around an hour and a half to complete that course,” Wright said.
The longest of the rides will go north on SH 146 to Rye and travel through Plantation Road before turning south and traveling back down SH 146 to Liberty.
“That ride is very scenic,” Wright said.
Rest stops will be placed every eight to 13 miles along the routes with cyclists being offered water, Gatorade and snacks. Bathroom facilities will also be available. There will also be a medical team and a communication team available if a cyclist has difficulty finishing the ride.
“We will have someone able to handle their problems right there,” Wright said.
When riders return to Liberty, they will have an opportunity to enjoy chili from the Liberty Rotary Club’s Chili Cookoff.
“We were doing our thing and the Rotary Club was doing its thing. One of the Rotary Club people said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this together,’ so we are,” said Wright. “The riders and their friends can purchase a bracelet to get chili after their ride. It will ultimately give more people the recognition for their efforts in the community.”
Wright believes that the Liberty Freedom Ride is a catalyst for economic development as many of the cyclists travel to Liberty County from Galveston, Beaumont and the Houston area, spending money at hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
“We’ve created something where people can come to Liberty and say, ‘Hey, this is a big deal.’ They will spend money and see our wonderful community. It legitimizes us an economic development group,” he said. “We are proud of it. We are doing things we believe in because it supports our community and our goals.”
To sign up for the ride, click here.
Liberty Freedom Ride also has a Facebook page where updates and information is frequently posted.