Rich Rau Memorial Tour to benefit Laurel Center

Posted: May 16, 2013

The Winchester Star

Rich Rau and his daughter Rachel ride in 2003 during the Wilderness Road Ride in Christiansburg. His wife Debbie is following in a van.
Rich Rau

Berryville — For Debbie Rau, there isn’t any more fitting tribute to her husband than the annual Rich Rau Memorial Bike Tour and Pancake Breakfast.

Now in its eighth year, the event held Saturday in Berryville will celebrate biking, good food and helping others — all things important to Rich, she said.

Rich was riding a bicycle when he was struck and killed in May 2005 by an SUV on U.S. 340 in Jefferson County, W.Va., near the Clarke County line. He was Berryville’s public utilities director.

The memorial ride was established the following year.

“This is a perfect opportunity because this was his chosen activity for the majority of his life,” said Debbie, of Cross Junction. “For other people to share in his favorite activity is special. It is just another opportunity to remember and respect him.”

All events start at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, 210 E. Main St., Berryville.

Registration for the tour is from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. with a departure time of 9 a.m., said Becky Allanson, event chair and treasurer for the board of directors for The Laurel Center.

The cost is $45, including a pancake breakfast at the church. Proceeds benefit the Laurel Center, Berryville’s helmet safety program, and a local Boy Scout troop, she said.

Breakfast will be held from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at the church. The meal only is $8 for adults and $3 for children under 10. Proceeds benefit Methodist Men.

The Laurel Center, a shelter for abused women, is taking over the event this year from the town of Berryville and Berryville Main Street, Allanson said. The center has been a beneficiary of the memorial ride for several years.

“This is a way to honor Rich, keep his memory alive for his family, and also raise awareness of the Laurel Center,” she said.

The event will emphasize not only safety on the roadways but tie that in with the center’s message of safety from domestic and sexual violence, she said.

Last year’s event drew about 125 riders and raised $3,000 for the center in entry fees and sponsorships, Allanson said.

Participants in the ride can choose a 15-, 30- or 50-mile route through the countryside, mostly in Clarke County, she said. The 50-mile ride briefly goes into Warren County.

The ride has become an annual tradition for the Rau family, who come from across the nation to participate, Debbie said. This year, there will be relatives from California, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado and Illinois.

“It is good memories. It would please Richard to no end that we have an opportunity because of him to gather together and have close ties as a family, especially around a biking event,” she said.

This year, Debbie’s stepson David Rau and his wife, Anna, will ride a tandem bike Rich had purchased so he could ride with his children, she said.

Even the breakfast represents Rich’s personality. When he would go bike riding with his children, they liked to have pancakes first, she said.

Rich was the consummate bike rider, Becky said. People in the area were used to seeing him riding from one place to another.

Debbie said her husband rode upward of 3,000 miles a year. He liked to commute to work from Cross Junction to Berryville, although he only did it one way and then drove the other half of the trip.

“He was always trying to improve his time from here to Berryville or Berryville home,” she said. “He would be very excited when he would shave off a couple minutes and get it under two hours coming home because that is mainly uphill.”

It wasn’t just that he wanted to stay fit, although the riding helped that, she said. Rich used his time on a bike to work out problems. “For Richard, it just made him feel good — physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Information

The eighth annual Rich Rau Memorial Bike Tour and Pancake Breakfast will be held Saturday In Berryville. The bike ride begins at 9 a.m. A pancake breakfast will be held from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, 210 E. Main St.

Cost is $45 for the ride, including breakfast, or the meal only is $8 for adults and $3 for children under 10.

For more information, contact 540-667-6160 or allanson1@earthlink.net.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com