Race takes 17th tour of valley


April 07, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

When El Centro resident Brenda O'Ferral signed up to compete in the 17th annual Jacques ‘n Jills Tour De Manure bicycle race, she had a feeling she'd fare well in her first competition.

Never did she imagine being the first woman to cross the finish line in the 25-mile ride, but that's exactly what she did. Finishing in 1 hour, 13 minutes, O'Ferral was only 12 minutes behind first-place finisher Rick Webb, her training partner.

"I thought I'd maybe be in at least the second group or maybe even the first group," said the 36-year-old Puerto Rico native. "I had been training three days a week for the past three or four months. This was my first competition so I had to train really hard."

The time and effort she put in with Webb paid off for both her and her partner.

This was the first time in 10 competitions Webb had participated in the 25-mile race, having competed in the 50-mile race in previous years. The reason being he could stick with O'Ferral on her first outing.


Even at 57 years old, Webb was able to take first in his division, finishing in 1 hour, 1 minute.

"What this is is just a fun ride. But then it turns into a race," said Webb, who currently resides in Mexicali and rides about 12,000 miles a year. "It just feels fantastic when you get this age to compete against and beat guys who are so much younger. It just feels great."

While the competition was fun for all and competitive for some, the reason all 60-plus competitors were involved was for charity. All the proceeds raised by the event went to the Imperial Valley Special Olympics.

Said I.V. Special Olympics Director and El Centro police Lt. Tim Blankenship: "The local law enforcement agencies have an annual torch run and this event, which serve as primary grass roots fund-raisers for the Special Olympics."

Also involved was the San Diego Regional Center for the Developmentally Disabled, which provides services to those in the San Diego and Imperial counties.

"The Special Olympics is very important to a lot of people. So getting out here and supporting this was important to us," said San Diego center associate executive director Carlos Flores. "This is a wonderful event and really well run. This is my first time out here and I definitely plan on coming out again."

While it was Flores' first time competing in the Tour, it was the 10th year for a group of riders who have been training together for years.

Tony Darr of Imperial, Fred Fisher of El Centro, Tom Johnson of Yuma and Carter Taylor and Chad Leptich, both of Brawley, all trained together and took the top five places in the 50-mile ride.

Averaging about 22 miles per hour on the course, Darr won in 2 hours, 13 minutes despite strong, gusty winds.

"The wind was pretty bad and at times shut you down, but we all worked past that," said Darr. "We all stayed together in a pack and took turns in the front to block the wind.

"Besides the wind and some of the roads, it was a great race. We all did well and had a great time doing it," he added.

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