Jan. 1 was a perfect day for a bike ride. The temperature hovered near 40, the wind was manageable, and there wasn’t a snowflake in sight.
So, in the midst of winter, 50 adults and children gathered at Providence Park in Grand Rapids, Ohio, for a series of timed bike rides that took them to Bend View Metropark in Waterville and back again — eight miles in all.
The fastest riders took 30 minutes; the slowest somewhat longer. But organizers say winning wasn’t the point of the outing, despite medals and cash prizes from co-sponsors Cycle Werks and Metroparks Toledo. “We had over 50 riders, though only 49 competed,” said Julie Theroux, who co-owns Cycle Werks shops in Whitehouse and Bowling Green with partner Jon Hoag. “Everyone was so happy to be out celebrating New Year’s day because we had such beautiful weather. The mood was high energy.”
As well it might be for this second annual race. Last year, the wind chill was minus 30 degrees, and 30 riders still participated. As a fitness enthusiast (she’s competed in nine Ironman Triathlon, and partner Jon Hoag in “more than he can count”), Ms. Theroux said her company sponsors several biking events throughout the year to promote enjoyment of the sport.
“Biking is growing in popularity. You’re finding that a lot of Baby Boomers are graduating from golf or running into activities like biking, especially as more Metroparks are putting in bike trails,” she said. “People are finding activities they can do with the whole family, but there’s an enthusiast crowd as well, [those] who ride between 30 and 100 miles” at a stretch.
“More and more people really want to challenge themselves, and I don’t see any end to that,” Ms. Theroux predicted. “With the addition of new bike trails and the 3 foot law just passed (the distance cars must stay from cyclists when passing), you’re going to see a lot more commuters riding their bikes to work.”
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