By Alyssa Schnugg
The second Velvet Ditch Gran Fondo bike ride on Saturday will start off with a dedication to a local cyclist who died last year in Abbeville after dogs caused him to crash.
The Ride of Silence will be in remembrance of Robby Tucker.
While there is a registration fee for the Gran Fondo races, the memorial ride is free and open to anyone who would like to participate. The Ride of Silence will start at 6:45 a.m. from the Oxford Middle School.
Cyclists will ride from the school to Sisk Avenue up to the roundabout near El Charo Mexican Restaurant and back to the school.
The Ride of Silence will feature bagpipes and a memorial ghost bike created by local metal artist Walter Neil.
After, registered cyclists will begin the Gran Fondo races. There will be a 20-miles route, a 45-mile route and a 70-mile route. The cost is $65.
Online Registration is available at https://raceroster.com/events/2022/55036/velvet-ditch-gran-fondo and closes on May 20 at 5 p.m.
In-person registration will be available from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Oxford Skate Park.
Last year, 170 cyclists representing 10 states participated in the first Velvet Ditch Gran Fondo.
“Our registration is 20 percent ahead at this point,” said organizer Claude Gunter.
Proceeds of this ride will support the Oxford & North Mississippi NICA Mountain Bike Team. This team is made up of middle and high school mountain bikers from the Oxford and north Mississippi area.
Following the Gran Fondo, the Velvet Ditch Party in The Sip community party will be held at Harrison’s off the Square from 7 to 10 p.m. and will benefit the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
Live music will be provided by local band, Madrik, and there will be a crowning of the King or Queen of the Velvet Ditch.