EL PASO (KDBC) — Bicyclists from all across the region gathered at La Vina Winery early Sunday morning for a special challenge.
Close to a thousand cyclists accepted an annual challenge that has been around for more than 30 years.
"I am doing the 100k or the 62 mile ride, which for the average cyclist it takes two to three and a half hours," said Mark Lenox, an El Paso cyclist.
The Chile Pepper Challenge, which helps fund local charities like the Lee and Beulah Moor Children’s Home, Animal Rescue League of El Paso, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of El Paso and Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, offers different routes and distances for cyclists of all skill levels.
"Most cyclists will come out and support and have fun, not so much as to compete and win," said Lenox.
But the event also promotes a deeper message. In light of the recent bicycle accidents that have taken place in the borderland region, cyclists came out to help spread awareness.
"In the past several months there have been many cyclists that have been hit by cars, a couple of fatalities even,” said Shane Cunico, a Las Cruces cyclist. “We really try to stay visible, we try to educate the public and as a club, we really try to make sure that all our club members follow the rules of the road."
Supporter and ex-president of the El Paso bicycle club Ted Wehmeyer said most of the accidents he's seen involve people trying to keep up with a more experienced group of cyclists.
"We stress trying to get people to basically stay in your group level," said Wehmeyer.
Some cyclists like Lenox agree. He said cycling is all about sticking together.
"for most of the cyclists it’s more of a social event, it’s a chance to get together, talk about cycling, recruit new cyclists, have fun and share experiences."
Lenox did just that. He shared a tip saying wearing the right shoes can make all the difference. He said a special type of cleats that locks with the pedal can give you more stability and control of your bike.
But as riders made their way to their route, they all have something in common, to have fun and look forward to what awaits them at the finish line.
"Relax at the end, maybe with an alcoholic beverage or two," said Lenox.