Saturday marked Dothan’s third annual 6-hour Mountain Bike Challenge at Troy University-Dothan’s mountain bike trail.
Split into five categories – solo men, solo women, men’s team, women’s team and co-ed team – the event is a test of endurance that also benefits a charity.
All net proceeds of the event, which was sponsored by Dothan Leisure Services, Dothan Area Cyclists and Troy University-Dothan, went to the March of Dimes.
“I love this,” said Kim Meeker, a cyclist who also serves as Dothan Leisure Services’ assistant director. “This is one of my hobbies. I ride out here every morning, as a matter of fact. This is my mid-life crisis sport.”
Mark Robertson travelled from Eglin Air Force Base to compete in the solo men’s event.
“I’ve been doing bike races periodically about two to three times a year for about four years when I’m not overseas or something,” Robertson said. “I like being outside in the woods. I had a choice between spring turkey season and this, so I’m gonna do this today and probably look for a turkey (Sunday).”
Meeker rode in the team portion of the event, and said the endurance aspect helps him stay in shape.
“I wouldn’t be up for the whole six hours, but I can handle my two-hour portion on a team,” Meeker said. “I don’t know if it’s my age or my level of competence but six hours on a bike is a little much for me. We are about recreation, but we also have a goal toward fitness. We try to have a positive impact on the health of Dothan citizens.”
Robertson said mountain biking is unique in its physicality when compared to other kinds of cycling, and he enjoys testing the limits of his cardiovascular conditioning.
“I’m a cardio junkie,” he said. “I’ve been an athlete all my life, and it keeps me in shape for the military. Mountain biking is kind of like a contact sport. There’s falls and jumps. I grew up playing football, rugby and wrestling. I can’t do that at my age. That’s why I like this a little more than road biking.”
Dothan Recreation Center Manager Tyson Carter said the event typically raises between $500 and $600, and at least 25 riders signed up for the event this year.
“What it means for the City of Dothan, No. 1, is promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle, and No. 2, a very unique event,” Carter said. “There’s nothing like this around here. You have to go as far north as Birmingham or as far south as Gainesville, Fla., to be part of an event like this.”
This year’s event was the first to be sanctioned by USA Cycling.