Cyclists traveled the beautiful Sam Houston National Forest outside of Cleveland on Saturday for the Fourth Annual Rock N Ride, an event hosted by the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 175 cyclists, some from as far as Springfield, Ill., participated in this year’s ride, according to Chamber CEO Jim Carson.
“I think it was a great ride. It was beautiful,” said first-time participant Bishop Decker of Kingwood. “I have been off the bike for quite a while, so when this popped up on Facebook, I thought I would get back on the bike and participate. It looked like a nice ride.”
The ride lived up to his expectations, according to Decker, who said, “I plan to come back next year. I am going to try to talk my wife into riding, too. It was well organized. The signage was good and everyone was so nice. People were also thanking me for my service as a military veteran.”
Another first-time rider at this year’s Rock N Ride set the record for the oldest rider to ever participate in the event. Joe Morse, 96, of Atascocita, rode on his trike recumbent bike that has a power assist. He rode along with his neighbor and fellow riding enthusiast Chris Lallier.
Morse is a World War II veteran who served as a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 while still a high school senior. His older brother, Ray, was a pilot who went missing after the Pearl Harbor attack.
When he was in his mid 80s, Morse started long-distance cycling after the death of his wife.
“If we had been able to ride in the last MS 150, it would have been the ninth time for Joe to participate in that ride,” said Lallier, referring to the ride from Houston to LaGrange that raises funds for multiple sclerosis research.
Lallier called Morse an “Energizer Bunny” because he keeps moving even after setbacks. Recently he suffered a couple of falls, one that broke his hip and one that broke his pelvis.
While the two failed to finish the ride after Morse ventured past one of the turning points, Lallier said they will likely try again, assuming that Morse is still able to ride a year from now.
The primary sponsor for this year’s Rock N Ride was City Ambulance, which also provided medical support throughout the event. Local law enforcement agencies, including constable office’s from Liberty and San Jacinto counties, and Cleveland PD, provided an escort for riders as they crossed busy roadways.