Wheels go around for 24 hours

Although he's already an avid cyclist, George Vitolo will mount his bike on Saturday and attempt a new feat: a 24-hour ride.

The ride, which will start at Laguna Cyclery around 9 a.m., will loop around Crystal Cove State Park, the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and the canyon.

Vitolo is doing the solo ride as a fundraising effort for Wheels4Life. He has no association with the nonprofit but heard of their work last year and was instantly attached to the cause. Over the past few months he's raised $1,000 for the cause, which donates bikes to underdeveloped countries.

After watching "Wheels 4 Life: The Film," Vitolo was moved by the impact a bike could make on a village, whose inhabitants may walk 10 miles to attend university, work or simply get water.

The Coastline Pilot spoke to Vitolo in June when he devised his plan for the ride. Originally he was going to do the 24 Hours of Adrenaline race in Iydllwild, but the race got canceled so he decided to bring his own version to his hometown.

Vitolo is hoping his ride will generate buzz needed to raise awareness for the cause.

"It changes somebody's life dramatically," he said. "Even if I could only give one bike, I'd still be changing one person's life. I just have a passion for it. It just touched my heart."

He noted one woman he heard about that walked 15 miles to attend her job as a nurse.

Feed stations and pop-up pit stops will be set up along the route, and Vitolo hopes to interact with locals along his ride. There will be a raffle at the corner of Fairview and Coast Highway, where local retailer Reuse Jeans is donating items such as jeans and denim tote bags. They'll also be giving away "Buy One Get One Free" deals with $5 from the purchases going to Wheels4Life.

Laguna Cyclery owner Patrick Fetzer has been a big supporter of Vitolo — he's donated a bike, a lighting system for night riding and apparel for the 24-hour ride. The store also hosted Vitolo's June fundraiser.

Back in June, Carmen Rey, the wife of Wheels4Life founder and famed cyclist Hans Rey, was excited to hear about Vitolo's initiative.

"It means a tremendous amount to us when people like George Vitolo and Laguna Cyclery feel inspired enough by what we do to go ahead and hold their own fundraiser," she said. "Another wonderful thing about what George is doing is that he is enrolling his community to help another entire community."

For more information, call Laguna Cyclery at (949) 494 1522.


Twitter: @joannaclay

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