LYNCHBURG, Va (WFXR) — Cycling lovers gathered in Lynchburg this weekend for the 14th annual “Storming of the Thunder Ridge– John Bell Memorial Ride.” The cycling event benefits the Central Virginia YMCA and honors John Bell, a Lynchburg doctor who lost his life in a cycling incident in 2007.

Cyclists could choose from five courses (27, 45, 48, 47, or 100 miles) that take them through the Hill City all the way into the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This year’s race brought in over 600 cyclists from all over the country. Executive Director of the Jamerson Family YMCA, Randi Abell, said the support means everything.

“It is so heartwarming to see so many people believe in what the YMCA does. I really feel like our reputation in the community precedes us when it comes to just providing opportunities for people to learn, grow and thrive in our community,” said Abell.

Cycling Event Director for the YMCA of Central Virginia, Paula Dahl, says she expects this year’s event to bring in nearly $50,000. The money raised goes towards funding YMCA programs and community outreach events around Central Virginia.

“The Y is all about community, and we love to support our community,” said Dahl.

Dahl emphasizes the importance of offering youth resources at the YMCA– including a new teen program starting at the downtown Lynchburg location.

“It’s a great place for young kids to get involved, and get them off the streets,” said Dahl.

While Dahl is thrilled about the money raised, she said as a cyclist herself, this event is also a lot of fun.

“These are my friends, so I meet them here, and I meet them at other events so I love putting on a big party for them and they love helping out the Y at the same time,” she said.

Participating cyclists said they’re just happy to be doing what they love while supporting a good cause.

“I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid and it’s just something I stayed with, now I’m a 60-year-old kid, and just love it,” said cyclist, Gary Smoot.

Despite the challenges of the Thunder Ridge course.

“It’s difficult, so it’s a challenge, and I think that’s fun and at the end of the day you’re glad you did it but you’re not so sure on your way up the hill,” said cyclist, Christy Hamlin.

The YMCA has several programs for people of all ages including upcoming Summer programs. You can find more information on how to get involved on the YMCA of Central Virginia website.