Tour de Charleston

Jim Means of Tuscola crosses the finish line Saturday morning at the annual Tour de Charleston bicycle race. Means was taking part in his first long-distance ride, cycling for health reasons and to raise money for children's cancer research.

CHARLESTON -- Jim Means looked at the distance app on his phone Saturday morning and saw a travel time of about 1 1/2 hours for the 25 miles he'd just cycled.

"I'll take it," he said, also noting that it brought him to nearly 115 miles for the week and he was "OK with that" as well.

It wasn't long ago that a long distance ride such as Saturday's annual Tour de Charleston wouldn't have been possible for the 42-year-old Tuscola resident.

But, now, he's literally about half the man he used to be. Weighing more than 450 pounds at one point, he said he was at about 300 pounds a year and a half ago when he "started cycling a little bit."

"I'm almost obsessed with it," Means said, relating how he built up the distances of his rides. With other lifestyle changes, he's now a "very lean" 240 pounds.

Saturday's Tour de Charleston featured courses of 12 1/2, 25 and 50 miles for cyclists who began and ended their treks at the courthouse square.

For Means, the 25-mile course was the "very first" distance race he's cycled and he hopes to do one each month.

In addition to his personal health, he's also motivated by taking part in the Great Cycle Challenge, which raises money for children's cancer research.

He said he chose the charity because cancer is "horrible" and he recently lost a relative to the disease. He's also a father himself.

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"I don't want to see any children go through that," he said.

Means described the Charleston course for his first long distance ride as "awesome." The 25-mile route took riders north of east of Charleston with some hills to contend with.

"I feel great that I made it," he said.

There were more than 200 cyclists in seven different age groups who took part in the Tour de Charleston, said Jennifer Killough, director of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, the event's sponsor.

The number of riders was "on par" with past events and "the riders seemed excited" about the event, Killough said.

The Tour de Charleston benefits the Chamber and "helps us keep up with what we're doing," she also said.

Killough said there was a new, family ride at this year's Tour de Charleston for "more involvement in the community." Another first was an after-ride beer tent which many of the riders welcomed, she said.

Saturday's activities also included a bike give-away to two children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The Charleston Kiwanis Club and Brendan Lynch of Bike & Hike donated the bicycles.

Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave



Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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