Be careful on Bland County roads Saturday as the Tour de Bland hits town for the seventh year. The October event raises money for ABB Relay for Life Team.

ABB employee Debbie Walker, who helps organize the tour said anywhere from 50 to 75 cyclists ride the tour and come from all around the United States and Canada.

“Years ago, a couple from Chicago came and stayed in Burke’s Garden,” Walker said. Some riders come from nearby North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, while others come from as far away as Florida or Canada.

“Everything we raise goes to Relay for Life,” she said. “We are hoping the event grows every year. It’s also a good thing for the county. It brings people here who would not ordinarily be here and lets people know what this area has to offer.”

Cyclists can choose from four routes of varying length. The shortest route is 15 miles and takes riders along Jefferson National Forest. The 37-mile course takes riders up and over Big Walker Mountain and cuts a figure 8 thought western Bland County. The 73-mile track goes over three mountain peaks, and the 100-miler takes cyclists throughout Bland County and into Wythe and Tazewell counties and over four mountains for a 7,000 foot climb.

“We have fun and get to meet a lot of different people,” Walker said. “A lot of people return every year.”

The Tour de Bland starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Bland County Courthouse. The cyclists start returning around noon until 5 p.m. for those that ride the 100-mile course.

Registration is $45 and opens at 7 a.m. the morning of the ride. All riders go out at 8 a.m. The event is held rain or shine.

For more information, visit online at www.tourdebland.org.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 228-6611, ext. 35, or email mrothrock@wythenews.com.

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