By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Fort Jackson)August 16, 2018
Nearly 50 bikers, young and old, set off Saturday morning for 15 miles of riding and scavenging. This was the seventh year the scavenger bike ride was held at Fort Jackson.
Adults and kids alike turned up and took off at 8 a.m. Aug 11 to win prizes and squeeze in a morning workout.
There were nine opportunities to "win." To earn a prize, competitors had to find a prize marker. The first year, Pamela Long, Fitness Coordinator, hid the actual prizes. She quickly realized they were too difficult to carry while riding. She quickly settled on placeholders.
This year, the markers were scattered throughout three locations.
Participants got a route to follow. They took off on their bikes to reach each location.
Three destinations on the map were marked with emojis -- these were where prize markers were hidden.
All of the prizes were health-related. They included a Swedish massage, portable fitness equipment and wellness T-shirts.
Though there was only supposed to be one marker at each site, disappointment from the participants convinced Long to put out more. She rushed off after introducing the event to hide them before participants arrived to each location.
The real goal wasn't to win the tangible prizes, though, Long said. "It's the ride … everyone benefits when they take care of their health."
The youngest single biker was just 14, and the oldest, 67.
A total of 48 participants showed up. This number was "more than doubled" from a typical year, Long said. Generally, there are about 20.
"I was just floored at that amount of people … those numbers are 'wow,'" Long said.
This year, 23 people pre-registered. Long was shocked when bikers "kept coming and coming and coming" Saturday.
She attributes the turnout partially to the sunny morning. She thinks it's also due to a growing desire to be active -- both physically active, and active in the community. Residents are learning more about available opportunities and are making use of them. They are becoming more involved in the many free fitness activities hosted on post. They are taking "a bigger active role in their health."
Some rode solo, and others hopped on two-seaters. Several parents had their little ones on the back seats of double-bikes.
There was a "big Family turnout," Long said. Moms and Dads brought their kids; in the process, they taught them how to improve their health.
Everyone finished the 15-mile trek within 90 minutes. The ride wasn't "just a stroll." It was a challenge. The event made the sometimes-leisurely activity of bike riding into more of a fast-paced competition.
Long crafted the idea while looking for fun, unique ideas. "I'm always trying to think out of the box," Long said.
She sought a way to make biking more enjoyable. The incentive of prizes was a clear choice. It was her attempt to take fitness and "make it recreational."
Long didn't realize it would become a staple event on post.
"I had no idea it would be that successful," she said. She's glad it did, though, and is happy to see people taking care of their health as they age.
"Consistency is what keeps the engine oiled," she said. The body will get older regardless, but it will be a less jarring process if kept active. Just sitting around is what makes it rust.