Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It’s A Party On A Bike!

Part of the crowd at the start of the Linn County Mayors' Bike Ride.
Well, the annual Labor Day mayor’s bike ride—actually the Linn County Mayors’ Bike Ride sponsored by the Linn County Trails Association— was a bit of a lark.  I haven’t biked in such a crowd since RAGBRAI, and it was just fun to be in a large group of bikers.

Bob Naujoks before the ride.
The route was easy, an 8-mile loop through Cedar Rapids.  The toughest part was the bottleneck when the route went from street to bike trail.  I had to make an unplanned stop and worried about being struck—but it all worked out.

I only had one minor mishap.  When I pulled into Ellis Park to start the ride, I hopped off to go register.  Meanwhile, some kid ran into my bike, knocking it over.  His mom was pretty embarrassed, but frankly I think I should have done a better job of parking my bike farther out of the way of traffic.  Kid, it was not your fault.

The handlebar of my bike was knocked out of alignment, something I didn’t notice until the ride began.  Straightening my handlebar caused me to have to stop early and lose contact with Bob Naujoks, with whom I had been biking.

It was nice to see Bob again.  He’s been retired from MMU for several years, and I have run into him now and then.  I learned a surprising piece of Bob trivia chatting before the ride:  Bob Naujoks, who before my time was the most consistent bike commuters at MMU and who is a veteran of many long-distance bike adventures, has never done RAGBRAI.

“Maybe next year is my RAGBRAI year,” he said.

Well, let’s hope so.  By the way, Bob, I did see you leaving the ride—you where headed north on First Avenue and I was headed west on the Cedar River Trail.  You were a bit too far for me to hail, which is too bad, but happy trails biker Bob.

MMU student Shannon Brown (right)
and his wife before the ride.
I also ran into Shannon Brown, one of my students, who quickly volunteered to write a feature story for the MMU Times about the ride.  That’s good thinking—grab the story that’s right in front of you which nobody else is doing.  I’m glad to see one of my students thinking as a writer does.

The ride itself was a bit muggy and warm.  I regretted not having my sunglasses or sunscreen, but didn’t toast as badly as I feared I might—even in a crowd in town, it just doesn’t take that long to roll 8 miles.

I heard a little grousing from some of the bikers about there being no big food and music event at the end.  I understand there has been more of a party post ride in the past, but since I’ve never done this ride before, I can’t attest to that.  Frankly, as a college professor on Labor Day, I had to hit the road and get home and get to work anyway, so I personally didn’t miss the party.

Besides, the real pleasure in biking is in the biking.  And this ride still felt festive.  Cedar Rapids and surrounding towns are getting more serious about bike-friendly development—expanding the network of local trails, for example.

Well, that calls for a celebration and a ride, and Monday’s event provided both.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett addresses riders at the start of the journey.
Early in the ride.  Yes, blog fans, CR Biker shot and rode.  Probably not a great idea.
A few minutes later, luckily no accidents.  I like the shadows.  It's around 10:15 a.m.
The yellow sticker identifies me as a registered rider, and also promotes a good idea--wear a helmet when you ride, dear blog readers.  CR Biker always does.  Not that everything I do is smart--but always bike with a helmet on.

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