By Rorye O'Connor
Published August 23, 2010, in the Mt. Vernon Register News
MT. VERNON, ILLINOIS—Early Saturday morning, cycling enthusiasts strapped on their helmets and hit the streets of Jefferson County for the 11th annual Kiwanis Fun Day Bike Tour.
The tour, hosted by Kiwanis Division 33, is made up of 12-mile, 30-mile, 60-mile and 108-mile routes for riders across Jefferson County, with 11 stops along the routes hosted by 10 different Kiwanis clubs.
“It looks like it’s going to be wonderful, perfect riding weather,” Jim Henson, the Fun Day Bike Tour chairman, said shortly before about 100 riders rolled out of the Walgreens Distribution Center parking lot.
The event raises funds for two Kiwanis events held for people with special needs in all of Southern Illinois. Henson said this year’s goal was to raise $4,000 with the Bike Tour.
“We bring 500 to 700 (disabled) people to Rend Lake to do some fun activities,” he said. “We also have a Christmas party, so we have two events for special people, and this helps fund them.”
Nine Kiwanis Clubs from across District 33, including Mt. Vernon’s club, help put on the cycling event, Henson said.
“It’s a neat thing,” he said. “I’ve been riding since 1982. It’s good exercise, with the circular movement, and a lot of retired people can do it.”
Riders snug in bright riding outfits from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri took part in the all-day riding tour.
Steve Gerbig of Evansville, Ind., attended the Kiwanis Fun Day Bike Tour for the first time Saturday, riding in the 108-mile course to help himself train, he said.
“I’m part of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association, and I need more centuries,” said Gerbig, in a bright orange Evansville Bicycle Club jersey. “I’m way behind — I’m supposed to ride one a month, so I’m going to have to scramble.”
While there were serious riders at the event, some participants looked at the event as an opportunity to socialize and have some light exercise.
Gene Tucker of Mt. Vernon also took part in the Fun Day Bike Tour for the first time, riding the 12-mile course to Woodlawn Grade School and back to the Walgreens Distribution Center.
“Most of the bike riding I do is commuting,” Tucker said. “I went to the beach last month with my family and there were lots of people riding bikes; it’s wonderful.”
Robert Bopp of Decatur and formerly of Mt. Vernon also took his 108-mile ride as an opportunity to catch up with the King City and the people who live here.
“I love it,” he said. “I come to this mostly because I grew up in the area and I get to see a lot of places I don’t usually get to see anymore.”
Kiwanis volunteers who took part in the event, hosting sag stops, also had the chance to socialize among themselves and with the other riders.
Dorothy Bruce, president of the Salem Kiwanis club, said she has helped host the courtesy stop at Woodlawn Grade School since 2002.
“Our specialty is homemade breads,” she said. “We have banana, strawberry, zucchini, cranberry orange and cinnamon swirl.”
The Salem club also provided fruit and drinks to the riders.
Bruce said she always enjoys meeting the new people who attend the event.
“It’s interesting to talk to the different riders and see the different kinds of bikes,” she said.
Sep 01 2010, 09:02 PM