On short notice, 375 people juggled their holiday weekend schedules to take an emotional bicycle ride Saturday in honor of Crystel Stanford, the 29-year-old cyclist who last week died after falling in a local ride.
Riders wore red T-shirts bearing the number Stanford wore on her last ride, 6305, and red wrist bands during the 30-mile course that started and finished at Clovis East High School.
"We're very happy about the way this turned out," said Gwen Rodriguez, 27, of Fresno, an organizer of the impromptu memorial. "I'm almost moved to tears every time I think about this community showing up to support the family."
Stanford, who grew up in Chowchilla but lived in San Carlos, was riding on a downhill section of Hills Valley Road on May 21 near Highway 180 when she skidded and crashed. She was participating the Eye-Q Fresno Classic Century, a 100-mile ride.
She remained on life support until Tuesday when she died, according to Community Regional Medical Center. Family members said they planned to donate her organs.
The planning for Saturday's ride began on Tuesday. Rodriguez and Lance Crow, 39, of Clovis who is part of a Christian bike-riding club called Vapor Racing, worked together to make it happen. Many others pitched in, they said.
The idea was posted on a Facebook page, more than 200 people signed up, and the event launched without a major hitch, they said. Such events often can take months to put together.
Stanford's family members, who declined an interview, attended the ride, talking with many of the participants.
Cyclist Michael Quiroz, 51, of Clovis said he came to ride because he felt so badly about the tragedy. Cyclists know freak accidents can happen, he said, but it is still a shock.
"I just couldn't believe it," he said. "My heart goes out to her family."
Mischel Kalkowski, 35, of Fresno helped out by taking donations that organizers said would be sent to charity or causes Stanford supported. Kalkowski said the donations had not been counted yet, but people were generous.
"It has been a very special day," she said.