Riding with cycling's best: Charity ride big part of Erlanger's role in US Pro Championships

Riding with cycling's best: Charity ride big part of Erlanger's role in US Pro Championships

January 31st, 2013 by Jim Tanner in Sports - Outdoors

Cyclists race past a crowd at the 2011 USA Pro Championships in Greenville, S.C. This year Chattanooga will host the event, which is expected to draw thousands of spectators.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

When the USA Pro Cycling Championships come to Chattanooga on Memorial Day weekend this year, not all of the riding will be done by the nation's elite male and female professional cyclists.

Outdoor Chattanooga will work with Volkswagen, Erlanger Health System and USA Cycling on a variety of special events for spectators, with the highlight being a charity ride for recreational cyclists before the time trial competition on May 25.

Donna Bourdon, president of Erlanger Pharmacies Inc., talked about the ride and Erlanger's role as the official hospital and medical services provider for the US Pro Cycling Championships.

Erlanger is no stranger to sports medicine, working with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to provide medical services to UTC athletes in all sports, but working with so many professional and amateur athletes is a unique challenge for Erlanger.

"This is a big event that's compressed into a small amount of time, so we need more personnel to handle this event," she said. "Some of the things we do with UTC, we do with five or six physicians, where here we're going to need a much grander scale of physician involvement."

With that responsibility, Erlanger will reach out to Outdoor Chattanooga and other organizations to help organize the charity ride, which will benefit T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital.

"We will be working with all-comers," Bourdon said, laughing. "Whoever wants to help us put this on and be successful, we will be working with."

The charity ride will be open to cyclists of all abilities and will feature 15-, 30- and 60-mile options. More information on registration will be available as details are finalized.

Bourdon said that whether it is a charity ride participant or an elite professional athlete, Erlanger is ready to provide the highest quality of care to everyone involved in the US Pro Cycling Championships.

"We are committed to bringing high-quality medical services to the event," she said. "We'll have our sports medicine physicians, our family practice physicians, emergency medicine physicians as well as paramedics, EMTs, nurses and a host of other volunteers.

"We're committed to helping have a safe event. We hope none of our services are needed, but we're there if they are."