One year and one day after losing a teammate and friend, cyclists from Bike & Build returned to Alabama.
A DeKalb County driver struck and killed Christina Genco on Highway 35 between Fort Payne and Rainsville, while she led a group of cyclists on Bike & Build’s 2011 SC2SC ride.
All riders on this year’s SC2SC ride, which goes from South Carolina to Santa Cruz in Southern California, have ribbons on their jerseys with Genco’s initials.
They also paid tribute to her memory Wednesday, the anniversary of her death.
“We basically met up with one of the riders that actually rode with Christina and she said a few words and read out some stuff people wrote about [Christina],” Barrett Hoover said.
Hoover is the lone rider in the group from Alabama, and remembers when it happened last summer as he was home in Cullman.
“It’s such a sad deal but it’s just been awesome hearing about her and the legacy she’s left,” he said.
The cyclists also had a Ride of Silence as they pedaled along the Silver Comet Trail in Atlanta on their way to Rome.
Route leader Brittany Simmerman of Indianapolis said the group planned to do a mile in silence, but they actually went 10 to 15 miles in single file.
Hoover said it was a good time to reflect.
The group took a different route from Rome, Georgia, this year and rode along Highway 40 to Scottsboro before taking Highway 35 to cross the Tennessee River.
Participant Matt Jenny said drivers are respectful for the most part.
“By and large, I’ve been impressed by how courteous drivers have been.
“There was a tractor trailer following us for 2 or 3 miles before finding a safe spot to pass today,” Jenny said.
“You get the occasional drivers around cities who will give you a nice horn or the finger, but generally I’ve been very impressed.”
Thursday’s 83 mile ride brings their 15 day total to 625 miles.
The route spans 4,163 miles across 13 states in 81 days, and some of the riders get to welcome their teammates to their home states.
“We’ve got a girl from Alaska, people from California, Idaho, everywhere all around,” the Alabama-native Hoover said.
“Everybody’s just so driven and it’s really an amazing group of people.”
The riders will work on Habitat for Humanity houses in 10 different cities, including Tupelo, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, and Provo.
Barrett Hoover said he learned about Bike & Build from a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi a few years ago, when the soft drink company made a donation to the organization.
“I was just getting into cycling and saw it [and looked it up] on the internet, and that’s something I really want to do,” he said.
“Just waiting for my chance, and I graduated [from Auburn] in December, so now was my chance.”
Each participant raised at least $4,500, which pays for trip expenses but most of it goes towards affordable housing.
Habitat for Humanity requires the people who receive the homes to work on their construction, and Hoover said working alongside them gives him energy to keep going.
“We can see what all the money we raised is going to benefit, the actual faces of the people and see how excited they are and getting to help them,” he said.
“Helping a lady paint her house that she’s getting ready to move in to is pretty incredible.”
This group raised $157,500 so far, an average of $5,250 each, and they continue to accept donations.
Friday they will ride to Decatur, and Saturday make a detour to the Hoover family home in Cullman.
“Crossed the State Line today, felt good,” Hoover said.
“We’ve got an off day in Decatur so all 30 riders are all going to go crash at my parents’ house for a day. It’s going to be fun.”
Then it is on to Tupelo for another Build Day.