Bike tour benefits Special Olympics

 
Published9/28/2008 12:05 AM

Organized rides in the Midwest may be coming to an end for 2008, but they're not over yet.

On Sunday, Oct. 5, you're encouraged to ride at your own pace while enjoying the scenic countryside of the Fox Valley area in the Pumpkin Pedal Bike Tour benefiting Special Olympics.

 

This year's 25-, 45- and 62-mile rides will begin and end at Kaneland Middle School located in Maple Park on the corner of Meredith and Keslinger roads. There will also be 10- and 20-mile rides on the Great Western Trail. These shorter rides will begin and end at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles on Dean St. just west of Randall Road. Your entry fee (and optional pledges) will support year-round training for Illinois Special Olympic athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Riders will be supported with snack-filled rest stops, emergency mechanical and SAG support, and a post-ride meal; vegetarian options will be available. For information, visit SOILL.org or call 630-377-7250.

Night rider: Every once in a while, I rediscover how peaceful and fun a night ride can be. I prefer staying away from traffic after dark and the Fox River Trail is where I usually end up. Things are much quieter then and a whole new set of animals comes to life. The river's edge also makes the experience very relaxing.

Technology has certainly made it easier to see clearly after dark. My "ancient" rechargeable 10-watt halogen headlight system (that set me back more than $120 at the turn of the century) now stays at home while a LED light replaces it on my handlebars.

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The best feature of these new lights is their lower energy consumption. Many will give you up to 100 hours of operation with only two AA batteries. My blinking, red LED taillight is also great for visibility on the streets.

A bright LED headlight combined with a blinking taillight can now commonly be found at your local bike shop for $25-$40. For such a small investment, you can be free to explore the beauty of darkness. On the higher priced end, you can get extremely bright 20-30 watt multiple halogen headlights that mount either on your handlebars, or on your helmet for anywhere from $100 to $500.

These brighter lights will illuminate better than most LEDs and usually last for hours on an external battery that typically is stored on your bike frame in the water bottle cage.

While I use both head and taillights after dark, it's scary to see so many kids (and adults) riding around the streets at night using only reflectors for visibility. In my alter ego as a car driver, I'll often not even see a non-lit cyclist until I'm within 10 feet of them.

Todd Underwood covers cycling in the Chicago area. To contact him, e-mail todd@peppergroup.com or write to him c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

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