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Hatfield bike race to benefit Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

— Cyclists of all ages and abilities will gather on Sunday to participate in the “Will Bike For Food” bike-a-thon charity event sponsored by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

The event is for casual and avid cyclists alike and will feature 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile rides.

“We did this event for the first time last year and it was more successful than we had ever hoped for,” Food Bank Communications and Marketing Manager Sarah Gibbons said. “We had just over 100 riders and we raised $35,000 when our goal had been $10,000,” she said.

Participants may compete in teams or as individuals, raising money for the Food Bank through pledges. People can sign up and register — the fee is $35 — “right up to the day of the event,” Gibbons said. “We will be accepting contributions up until Oct. 31, so people can decide at the last minute to do the ride without feeling pressure to get pledges first.”

The event seeks to benefit The Food Bank’s mission to reduce hunger and increase food security in western Massachusetts. For every dollar that is raised, the organization distributes $13 worth of food.

“More than ever, community fundraising events like this one are critical to carrying out our mission,” Food Bank Executive Director Andrew Morehouse said in a news release. “Without awareness and support from the community we would not be able to meet the high demand for emergency food that’s needed by more than 110,000 of our neighbors,” he said.

This year the Food Bank hopes to surpass last year’s record.

“We have 87 people registered and have raised $23,000 thus far, so we are over our halfway point,” Gibbons said.

There will be a celebration from 3 to 6 p.m. that will include food from local restaurants such as the Grub Sandwich Shop, Hillside Pizza and Smithsonian Caterers as well as beer from the Berkshire Brewing Company and music by the band Moose and the High Tops. Families and friends of participating cyclists who wish to attend the after-party may do so for an admission fee of $15.

All rides start from The Food Bank’s headquarters at 97 North Hatfield Road in Hatfield.

Cyclists can choose from the following routes:

∎ A 25-mile route that loops through Whately, Deerfield and Sunderland. The ride has a total ascent of 564 feet and has a maximum elevation of 357.61 feet.

∎ A 50-mile loop that takes riders just past Bernardston and back. The route has a total ascent of 1,871 feet and has a maximum elevation of 1,224 feet.

∎ A 75-mile ride crosses into Vermont, through Hinsdale and back. This ride has a total ascent of 2,648 feet and has a maximum elevation of 968 feet.

∎ A 100-mile bike trek goes up to Brattleboro, Vt., before looping back to Hatfield. The ride has a total ascent of 5,604 feet and has a maximum elevation of 2,096 feet.

The rides begin on Sunday, Sept. 30. Check in is as follows: 100-mile ride, 7 a.m.; 75-mile ride, 8 a.m.; 50-mile ride, 9 a.m.; and 25-mile ride, 10 a.m.

For information call: The Food Bank at 247-9738 or visit www.foodbankwma.org.

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