Originally created 05/02/04

Nearly 100 join Sanford for first leg of bike ride



COLUMBIA - The challenge was different for each of the scores of bicyclists who pedaled along South Carolina's back roads with Gov. Mark Sanford on Saturday.

The hills, the miles and even the rain were goals to beat for nearly 100 who turned out for the first day of the governor's bike ride across the state.

For 51-year-old Chip Brooks, it was a chance to ride more than 100 miles in one trip since his doctor told him last fall he was winning the battle against cancer.

"I beat cancer, and I'm just happy to be here," said Mr. Brooks, who planned to bike the first leg of the governor's ride and back home to Spartanburg on Saturday.

Mr. Sanford said he was pleased with the number of people who took his challenge to get active.

"We do need to be more active, get in shape and get out of the video games and TV," said 17-year-old Matt Rhodes, who brought his mountain bike up from his home in Summerville to ride with the governor.

Although Mr. Sanford has been troubled by a sore knee and lingering pain in his lower back, he said he wanted to set a good example by showing people how important exercise is to staying healthy. He said South Carolina could save on health care costs if residents stayed in better shape.

The first day of the ride took Mr. Sanford 65 miles from southern Spartanburg County with stops in Union and Whitmire before ending at Little Mountain near Columbia.

Avid cyclists who rode on high-tech road bikes and children with training wheels followed Mr. Sanford at the start of the ride from Croft State Park near Spartanburg.

Mr. Sanford will pick up the second leg of the trip May 15, traveling 50 miles from Columbia to Elloree. He'll complete his journey May 16 when he arrives in North Charleston.