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Annual bike tour benefits addiction recovery program

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This year's Tour de Ocho Millas had 44 riders. The winner, Eric Collins, finished the 64-mile course with a time of 2:45:32. Other cyclists completing the course were: Michael Camp, Justin Goodin, John Martinson, David Vasquez, Aaron Colyer, Joseph Hannigan, Tim Oracion, Michael Hawthorne, Julio Chavez, James Mulkey, Ken Morgan, Marty Fritz, Jason Burke, Robert Simpson, Joseph Coakley, Galen Farrington, Doug Southern, Frank Canella and Mark Taylor. (Submitted Photo)

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For the past seven years, the Tour de Ocho Millas has raised operational funds for Reflections in Recovery. Chairperson Patricia Grassie told the Daily Record about this year’s event and added some context for the readers.

“This was the seventh annual tour,” Grassie said. “It has always been benefiting Reflections in Recovery. Reflections in Recovery does several things. We have a jail ministry. We have a public 12-step group that meets over at the Salvation Army building. It’s our 12-step but they let us use their building, so we partner with them. Lorual Peschka has been the director of Reflections, it was originally called Reflections Ministry, since it was founded.”
The tour has always been at the same location. It attracts riders of all kinds from all over.
“It’s always at Bottomless Lakes State Park,” Grassie said. “We begin at the entrance to Lea Lake. The cyclists go up that hill around Lea Lake. They go out eight miles and go back down. It is a professionally timed event. We have people from Las Cruces and El Paso. We have some from Alamogordo and Ruidoso in that area. This year’s winner, Eric Collins, is from that area.”
Even though it attracts professional bicycle racers, as a fundraiser, it is not like most bicycle races.
“The interesting thing about this particular race,” Grassie said, “is we do not put any restrictions on it. It is not a sanctioned race. It does not have just professional riders, now it does have professional riders, but they’re all out there mixed in. This year we also had a 10-year-old boy who rode his bike around the loop.”
The oldest rider has ridden with them a number of times and always returns. He’s 74.
“One of the gentlemen who rides every year is over 70,” Grassie said. “He completed the full eight laps. We have people who ride one lap. We have people who do it every single year. At the awards assembly we ask ‘How many have never missed a TdOM?’ They choose what they want to ride. The professional seasoned riders do it for time. For others, there are little water stations along the way.”
Grassie wants to encourage everyone to join in the fun.
“Whether you’re a serious rider or not,” she said, “we encourage everybody to come out and ride the tour. We’ve even had children with training wheels. This year, we had a couple of recumbent bikes. We have all ages and all abilities. We had one lady tell us every year that she rides, she rides one more lap than the previous year.”
The funds raised are dedicated, and they make a difference.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Reflections in Recovery to support the 12-step program, the jail ministry, the homeless ministry and we have a ladies’ transitional home where they come and live with us for a year. They are getting out of addiction. They study, they work, they get a job, they live with us. It is faith based.”
The transitional home is a highly structured environment where the residents learn a more self-disciplined life practice.

“We are set up for, I believe, 11 women in the transitional home,” Grassie said. “We usually take about three or four women at a time. They come in and go out at different times. They graduate through different phases. When they’re ready, first they study and get their head around the idea of living clean, sober lives. Then they graduate to a phase where they have to get a job. They have to have enough money in a bank account to pay first and last month’s rent and utilities before they can graduate.
“They are supervised 24 hours a day. We have a pool of about 40 volunteers who live with them, and take them to (group-oriented) work in the early phases. Once they have a job on their own they start paying us a reduced rent, they open a bank account and start saving for when they move out.”
Grassie said the transitional program is undergoing major changes.
“We’ve started restructuring it,” she said. “We haven’t had any women in the last year. In the past we’ve worked with court ordered women. We have a tiny advantage in that if they get sick of the program and walk off, they go to jail. We’ve been around for almost 10 years now, we’re constantly learning.”
A need they’re beginning to address now is how the family is involved in the addiction process.
“We’ve also recently started PALs, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones,” Grassie said, “for families of addicted people. One thing we noticed was that when our girls graduated and got out, often they would go back home and hit the default button and they’d be in trouble again. So we’re trying to prepare, not only our women, but also their families.”
Grassie said that addiction affects the entire community, and it’s important that everybody works together.
“Our mantra is, ‘There is not a family in Roswell that is not affected by addiction.’ We work with other homes and other people who do this work. We’re doing our best to put our heads together and work within the community.”
Reflections in Recovery has dedicated support in the area.
“We have sponsors for TdOM,” Grassie said. “There are about 10 local churches of different faiths that come together to support this. Also, lots of businesses step up and sponsor this event. This year, we had about 50 donors. Xcel Energy is our title sponsor. They host the event every year.”
Grassie said that they are particularly grateful to two entities for this year’s event.
“In years past that road they ride has been really rough,” she said. “This year, the Department of Transportation repaved the road two weeks before this race. They did it because in years past the riders had to dodge pot holes. So we want to thank the DOT for the roads and God for the weather.”
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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