Rock the Crater invited to join Kentucky Century Challenge

With the continued success of the Rock the Crater Ride, the 2020 fundraising event will be a part of the Kentucky Century Challenge Tour.

“We are announcing this for the first time,” Ministry Director of First Priority Tri-States Emery Minton, Jr. said. “We are a part of the Kentucky Century Challenge next year. That ride has only five rides in Kentucky and we are one of those.”

Minton explained that they could see an even bigger increase in cyclists next year.

“We could see an increase of as many as much as 300 to 400 cyclists coming to our ride next year,” he said. “This year’s ride we had 110 riders from seven different states building off of 85 cyclists last year. We have continued to increase every year since the beginning.”

This was the third annual Rock the Crater Ride benefiting First Priority Tri-States. Typically the ride is held in conjunction with the Cumberland Mountain Fall Festival, but next year that will change as a part of the Kentucky Century Challenge.

“We’ve had to change the date for two reasons,” Minton explained. “We want to show the increase in the economy and next year being on this tour is going to bring more riders here. We moved it away from the festival so that the community can see the increase and also it won’t be so crowded with everything going on.”

He explained that the Kentucky Century Challenge asked them to change the ride date to a different date that would work for the fundraiser aspect as well as their tour.

“So, both of those things factored in and our date next year will be Aug. 15,” he said.

There were five route options. The Blue Route was a 10-mile run ride. He explained that it was an easy ride for anybody that just wanted to participate and support First Priority. The Red Route was a 21-mile ride, Orange Route was a 38-mile ride, Green Route was a 62-mile metric century ride, and White Route was a 101-century mile ride.

“Every cyclist that participated, even the 10-mile fun ride, got a barbecue meal at the end and they got a finishers medal, a t-shirt, and a pair of socks that matched everything,” Minton said. “So, there are perks for those that show up and ride.”

Minton also wanted to extend a thank you to the Bell County Sheriff’s Office, the Middlesboro Police Department, Bell County Emergency Management teams, and the many churches that helped make this ride as successful as it was.

“We want to make a safe ride and be successful,” he said. “The community got behind this ride and really helped. We had volunteers, several churches who volunteered, and a lot of LMU students and even high school students volunteered and served.”

Photographers volunteered to set up along the routes and take photos. Several motorists volunteered to follow the cyclists and keep them safe. They had an on-site mechanic from Berea to help anyone whose bike was under distress.

“It was a great atmosphere overall, and we want to try to build on what we think will make our ride successful,” he continued to explain. “That is our history here and our atmosphere of taking care of people and making it a friendly place for people to come. As the community gets behind it more, there will be more cyclists will show up.”

The idea for the ride came as a way to raise general funds for the First Priority Tri-States ministry.

“I had gotten into cycling and had gone to a couple of rides and we didn’t have one here, so when the bike shop was here I got with those guys and we decided to put this ride together,” he said. “There was a route that some of the riders did that the guys riding called ‘rock the crater’ and we took that name and played on that.”

He said after that it was developed into a bigger ride that became a great fundraiser and a way to bring people into the area and help the economy.

“The money helps us do more ministry with the schools with First Priority and what we do,” he explained of the fundraiser. “The fundraisers help our guys. We have three guys that are in part-time ministry and we supplement them and let them work for us to help our ministry grow. So, it goes toward those expenses primarily and it also just helps us do more ministry through the schools.”

First Priority started in 1996 with three campuses and three clubs.

“We are now in five counties and we have 30 clubs and last year we had 403 students say yes to Jesus on a public school campus,” said Minton. “People say we need the Bible in school and we need prayer in school and we tell them it is. It’s called First Priority, and it’s there and it’s a legal avenue for us to teach students to lead and win their friends to Jesus on a public school campus. It is student led and student initiated.”

Minton said that he would love to have the community support First Priority and if you want to support, you can contact them directly at staff@fpts.org or you can contact them through Facebook at FPTS1.