Naperville Rotary bike ride to benefit charities

During summer vacation many years ago, my best buddy, Margaret, and I embarked on a fitness routine just before our senior year at Muncie Central High School.

Every evening for several weeks in August, we took a six-mile bike ride, zigging and zagging on back roads from our neighborhood to Huddleston's Market, a popular, independently-owned family business where locally-grown fruits were plentiful in season.

When we reached our destination, we'd use the restroom, get a drink and purchase a couple pounds of peaches and other fresh fruit.

Following a slightly different route, we'd return to Margaret's house two doors from mine to create a healthful fruit salad. (Let me fail to mention we usually added a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a topping that likely limited our success at streamlining.)

That fond memory of a rest stop on our bike ride came to mind at a recent Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown meeting when we were discussing the SAG supported 19th Annual Naperville Rotary Ride.

For the first time, our small club is hosting the long-running event slated for Sunday, Aug. 9, beginning and ending at Commissioners Park at 3704 111th St.

Somebody asked, "What does SAG stand for?"

Several cyclists in our group knew that a SAG-supported bike ride offers pit stops along a designated route available to assist cyclists with refreshments and restrooms. SAG drivers also tour the distance in well-marked vehicles as welcome sights if a cyclist becomes fatigued or needs mechanical assistance or tire repair.

But no one knew what "SAG" meant.

Then out came several electronic devices.

And immediate past president Lynda Reilly read, "SAG stands for Support and Gear."

The 2015 Rotary Ride, held in memory of avid cyclist Carmen DiGiovine, one of the founders of the ride in 1997, also stands to support three charities - Naperville CARES, Naperville Responds for Our Veterans and Rotary International Polio Plus.

Presented by DiGiovine, Hnilo, Jordan and Johnson, Ltd., Rotary Ride offers a 1.4- mile family loop, as well as 21-, 41-, and 62- (metric century) mile routes, all SAG supported until 3 p.m.

After check-in, cyclists may choose a route and begin any time between 6:30 a.m. and noon.

Participants can sign up online; registration is $50 the day of the ride.

Rotary Ride also will host a gently-used bike collection from 6:30 a.m. until noon.

Since early 2014, used, outgrown and/or repairable bikes for children and adults have been collected by Naperville Sunrise Rotary to benefit Bikes for Lesotho, a project that sends bicycles to children and young people in impoverished mountain villages of the Kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa.

Until 11:45 a.m., volunteers will be stationed at Rotary Ride to collect used bikes in all sizes for a large transport vehicle that picks them up at noon. (Note that bikes also can be donated during regular business hours for the Lesotho initiative at Naperville Bank & Trust, Washington Street at Benton Avenue. Simply ask a bank employee for assistance.)

What's more, a Family Fun Loop has been organized by volunteer Brenda Pino with her son and grandson. From 8 to 11 a.m., all ages are welcome to run, walk, bike or stroll around the track at Commissioners Park, where signs will highlight Rotary trivia about the international service organization.

Participants can enjoy refreshments and camaraderie while their donations (suggested $15 per family) support three 2015 Rotary Ride charitable causes.

No advance sign up is necessary for the Family Fun Loop. Simply show up at Commissioners Park. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Rotarian Pat Benton, meanwhile, helped organize sponsors for this year's event, a group that will cover costs so all funds raised from cyclists' registrations go to benefit the three charities.

"The 19th Annual Rotary Ride is already a huge success, with 15 sponsors led by DiGiovine, Hnilo, Jordan & Johnson, Ltd.," Benton said. "We are well on our way to providing new financial support to local charities Naperville CARES, Naperville Responds for Our Veterans and international support to Rotary's Polio Plus."

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