Fourth Annual Mayor’s Bike Ride Celebrates Bike Month

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Wake Fulp, Mayor Bowers and Rob Issem with award plaques.
Wake Fulp, Mayor Bowers and Rob Issem with award plaques.

by Valerie Garner

There was some trepidation Saturday morning as light rain fell and cyclists began to gather at the Bennington Park parking lot to celebrate Bike Month. But the short sprinkle did not deter the avid cyclists who had gathered for the Mayor’s Bike Ride.

Decorated spoke cards were waiting for kids’ bikes – a priority for youngsters, dating back decades, used when wanting a little “varoom” while in motion. Artist Katherine Devine helped decorate helmets and bikes.

Mayor David Bowers and RIDE Solutions Program Director Jeremy Holmes presented the Bike Hero award plaque to Rob Issem for his personal dedication and passion for cycling.

Issem is a racer for East Coaster Bicycles and a competitive mountain biker. He is also a cyclo-cross competitor – a form of racing that requires endurance and sharp bike-handling skills while maneuvering steep hills and obstacles. He started “STARBOMB” – an event that is held on or close to a full moon. They start at the top of Mill Mountain and race down on children’s bikes while usually in costume.

“He is really an advocate and activist and is always trying to get more bike racks at establishments and make people aware of the cycling community,” said his wife Lisa. Issem just started Bike Sherpas Touring Co. It offers backcountry mountain bike guided tours of regional trail systems and road cycling tours.

Wake Fulp was the recipient of the Extraordinary Bicycle Professional Award. This award is given to an employee in the public or private sector who has shown leadership by encouraging the use of bicycling as a transportation alternative.

Fulp is a sales manager for East Coasters and has been a cyclist all his life and in the bicycle industry for 12 years as a professional. In addition, he instigated the Junior Cycling program – a junior bike and race team. “We conduct weekly rides … any kids are welcome to come, especially to the mountain bike based team,” he said. They meet at Carvins Cove and Mill Mountain.

Fulp’s main role at East Coasters is to fit bikes to riders. “I help adjust people to their bicycles or the bicycles to them.” The goal is to make the bike comfortable for the cyclist by determining how they will use it – from touring and commuting, to racing or mountain biking. “All those people have different fit needs.” He even takes past injuries into consideration.

Bowers recognized Dr. Stuart Tousman with the Virginia Asthma Coalition. It is also Asthma Awareness Month. As an asthmatic and biker himself he encouraged people to exercise.  Dr. Tousman advocated for making Asthma Month a part of Bike Month.

Last month The League of American Bicyclists designated Roanoke as a bicycle friendly community at the bronze level, said Bowers.