The VMCA Student Competition Committee held its inaugural Tour de Skeeter on Saturday, June 22, 2019 kicking off National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 23-29). It was a beautiful day for bike-riding with a nice breeze and a high temperature around 80 degrees. A total of 30 people and 4 kids signed up and about half were actually able to make the trip and bike some amount of the trail.
One group (Jay Kiser- Suffolk Mosquito Control and 2 friends) rode from Jamestown to Richmond on Friday night and then rode down to the tavern Saturday morning with Michael Rollins of Prince William County and Ryan Levering of Henrico County. Another group (Lisa Wagenbrenner- Chesapeake Mosquito Control and Tim DuBois- Portsmouth Mosquito Control with wife and friend) rode up from Jamestown to the tavern. The final group (Karen Akaratovic- Suffolk Mosquito Control and Penny Smelser- Norfolk Mosquito Control, both with their families) parked at the tavern and rode a few miles north and back. Ann Herring of Suffolk Mosquito Control graciously volunteered to be the emergency support person and was stationed at the tavern. Although some of us felt pretty exhausted at the end, luckily no one had a catastrophic issue. Everyone met up at the Indian Fields Tavern to relax and socialize for a couple hours. The tavern supplied some delicious appetizers and everyone had a great time playing corn hole and Frisbee while the kids played with bubbles, chalk, and a good old-fashioned game of tag. Afterwards everyone left on their separate ways, some had people pick them up and others rode back to their original starting point.
Next year, there are a few things the committee would like to do differently. For one, we would like to get the word out about the event a little earlier. This year we were only able to give regular registration a 2 week notice. Getting set up took a fair amount of planning with more details than any of us realized, so it took us a while to get the ball rolling. Secondly, we would like to better organize riding groups if possible. This happened pretty last minute for most people but fixing this will come with getting the announcement/registration deadline out earlier. A third point worth considering is setting up different locations for the event. For example, if people in the northern or western areas of Virginia were interested in participating but not wanting to make the drive down to the Lower Peninsula for the Capital Trail, perhaps we could set up another trail or two in different areas. This would require some help from committee members or volunteers in these areas but is definitely something the committee is willing to explore if there is interest. Finally, several people suggested making the event an overnight/weekend long activity via campgrounds. The Chickahominy Riverfront Park at mile marker 7 could be a great location for such a proposal with over 120 campsites, boat access/rentals, fishing, walking trails, playground and pool, and many other features.
A huge thank-you goes out to Ted Bean with Adapco, Jeff O’Neill with Central Life Sciences, Zach Cohen with Summit Chemical, and Jim Andrews with Valent Biosciences who all sponsored the event so that we could purchase items (t-shirt, water bottle, tick spoon, etc.) to give to the participants and order food for the break time. Without their support, we would not have been able to raise as much money as we did, which was a total just shy of $300!