Gonzales, LA (FOX44) — Nearly a hundred bicyclists are on their way from Houston to New Orleans for the fifth annual Tour du Rouge.
There is a lot of money at stake, but the riders will not keep any of it. Nobody is timing this bike race, and there is no yellow jersey.
Just a Red Cross.
And that is why, for everyone who qualified, no race is more important.
"There's no better organization for humanitarian relief efforts and recovery from disasters and emergencies," Carlette Moore said. "And that's what keeps me coming back."
Moore was one of 97 riders who pedaled into Gonzales on Thursday. She is in her third Tour du Rouge, which is a fundraiser for the American Red Cross.
"It is a great ride for the cause," she said.
As they pedal along the Gulf Coast, the riders visit areas damaged by storms, fires, and other disasters, and learn how the Red Cross influences local communities.
"I love that this ride goes through the areas that it's raising money for," Adam Butler said.
Butler took part in the Tour du Rouge for the second time. He lives in Austin, TX, but is originally from Gonzales, so the ride is a good reason for him to see his family. But they almost did not see him. Butler said they did not recognize him as he arrived at the end of the stage.
To join, each rider had to guarantee a $2,500 dollar donation. But over the years, their competitive side has upped the ante. This year, they raised more than $500,000.
"We talked about it getting this big," said Alan Bazard, one of the ride's founders, "and we talked about it getting bigger. And we really want to see it, now we want to see it get bigger."
Moore, who sits on the board of the Greater Houston chapter of the American Red Cross, was disappointed she was not the top fundraiser this year. But she is proud that she collected $22,000, and she said she is not done yet.
"I hope I can raise $50,000 next time, or $100,000 next time," she stated. "It's just not enough."
She joined the board in large part because of the race. She signed up for the inaugural ride in 2008, but it was delayed a year because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
"But I got a chance to see (the American Red Cross) mobilize for Gustav, mobilize for Ike, and just got a sense to see how this organization works, how their volunteers work, and I've been hooked ever since," she stated.
The ride was spread out over six days, with each stage between 76 and 109 miles. They depart Gonzales on Friday for New Orleans, at which point a bus will take them back to Houston.
In the five years since the Tour began, it has raised $1.5 million for the American Red Cross.