Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Last Best Ride returns for fourth edition

by KELSEY EVANS
Whitefish Pilot | July 10, 2024 2:00 PM

In just four years, Whitefish’s Last Best Ride has quickly become one of Montana's premier gravel cycling events.  

“The first year, gravel cycling was still gaining momentum. But now folks know what it is, and the event has transformed the community, and not just the cycling community, but Whitefish as a whole,” said co-director and event founder Jess Cerra. “I feel really proud of the impact we’ve had on the local high schools and outdoor circles.” 

This year, Stella Hobbs, co-owner of Great Northern Cycle and Ski, has teamed up with Cerra as co-director for the event. 

The race, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, grew as a means to raise money for financially qualified women seeking post-secondary education, and since 2021 has provided $102,000 in scholarships to 22 women from five different high schools throughout the region, and has given over $40,000 of support to cyclists and community leaders from underrepresented communities within the sport to help lower the barrier to entry in cycling.  

“It’s pretty special for us, because a lot of it is about inclusion and diversity and Whitefish being able to be represented in the racing community,” Cerra said. 

“We have kept the number of attendants the same every year. We want to keep it big for Montana, but not too big. I can’t even tell you how big the wait list is. We’ve never done any marketing – it's all through word of mouth,” Cerra said.  

The event is still looking for volunteers for the expo and packet pick-up on Saturday, July 27, but is primarily in need of course marshals and medical assistants for race-day on Sunday, July 28.   

“Most of the circles of our community are biking in the race. So, we are trying to get the word out about needing volunteers. We also hope to branch out beyond the biking community, especially if people are interested in learning about it,” Cerra said.  

All volunteers receive an invite to a volunteer dinner, a custom volunteer t-shirt and gift, a 2024 event poster crafted by Lisa Congdon, and meal/drink/ice cream wristband tickets for the post-race party.  

The volunteer sign-up form is online at www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0B44ACA723A4FECF8-50040356-tlbr#/ 

People may sign up for more than one volunteer shift as long as the shifts do not conflict. If accessing the sign-up via mobile, scroll to the bottom of each page and tap “More” to view all positions that need to be filled.

    The Last Best Ride celebrating scholarships for local high school women. (Photo provided by Jess Cerra)
 
 
    Volunteers having fun during a prior Last Best Ride race. (Photo provided by Jess Cerra)