By Travis Gulbrandson
Area bicyclers will have a chance to ride for a mentoring program this weekend.
The Clay-Union Foundation is hosting its annual Heritage Ride, which is set to leave Elk Point at 9 a.m. this Saturday.
“We have a bike ride with five different routes,” said program director John Gille. “The shortest is eight miles, the longest is 58-plus.”
There is a route available for all levels of riders, but all participants will leave at the same time from the same location – Immanuel Lutheran Church, which is located at 607 W. Main St. in Elk Point.
Free snacks, beverages, door prizes and a meal will be available for those who take part.
“They can register that day, or pre-register,” Gille said. “If they’re interested in the meal, they should sign up as soon as they get there. Registration starts at 8, and our riders leave with a police escort at 9.”
The only requirements riders must fulfill is that they use a helmet, and that riders under the age of 16 ride with an adult.
Funds raised during the event will go toward the Clay-Union Foundation’s mentoring program, which pairs adults with youths aged 5 to 17.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year. It’s kind of critical,” Gille said. “Last year we had a cold and rainy year, and we had a very light year, so this year we’re hoping to have normal – whatever that is – weather.”
The Heritage Ride has been held for 15 years now.
“The first two years, we had it in October, but in 1998 we had it scheduled the first weekend in October,” Gille said. “We ended up having three inches of rain the night before, and the next year we had cold and snow. October had sounded good, but it was too unstable, so we moved it back to August.”
The number of riders can be anywhere from 80 to 135, he said.
“They enjoy riding as a group, and since it is a charitable event … knowing that it is going to support a local program, they always like doing that,” Gille said. “The riders have always been very supportive of the program. We’ve got a core group of riders that have come just about every year.”
Registration forms are available at http://www.clay-unionfoundation.org/ under the Events tab, or at http://www.bikeiowa.com/ under Heritage Ride.
For more information, Gille can be reached at (605) 421-5050 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.