This year's Redbud Ride brought approximately 900 cyclists to the area this weekend to test their skills along some of the county's scenic rural areas.

Organizers of the event were well pleased with the turnout, stating that participation was at the same level as past years. On Thursday, there were 718 pre-registered for the event but Friday and Saturday brought in over 100 more who registered for the ride.

Julie Rea, president of London Downtown, thanked the volunteers who assisted with this year's event.

"The Redbud Ride takes the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers to create a successful event that draws tourists to London and Laurel County and surrounding areas," Rea said. "London is a special community for so many reasons and the willingness of our community members to come together and create events as spectacular as the Redbud Ride shows why London is the best place to live, work and play."

While most riders interviewed stated they had participated in prior rides, most praised both the organizers of the event and the people in London.

Erik Saab and Brett Humble drove from Morgantown, West Virginia - near Baltimore - for the event. Saab has participated in the Redbud Ride for four years, while this was Humble's first visit. Both were doing the Century Ride and said they loved the scenery of the area and planned to return here next year.

"This is a beautiful place, the race is well organized and the people are so helpful," Saab said. "The people are so good we drove six and a half hours to get here!"

Billy Anderson and his wife were two members of the Cincinnati Cycling Club who were in London on their first visit as part of the Redbud Ride. The group of 15 were geared up and ready to ride early on Saturday morning - excited at the challenge and opportunity ahead.

Richard Jones traveled from Louisville for Saturday's event to make his trek on the 34-mile ride. This is Jones' second year for the Redbud Ride and he was one of those who also participated in October's Thriller Ride.

"I think this is great," he said. "It is well supported and the routes are well marked."

The rural country roads do have some drawbacks for cyclists, however, and Rea said there were two accidents during Saturday's trek.

"We had a couple of accidents but everything went smoothly," she added. "The last rider came in around 6:15 p.m. and we were pleased with the turnout."

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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