FORT WAYNE – a half-hour before the official beginning – several riders began to inch their way toward the starting line. By the time the sound was given, more than 1,000 cyclists slowly headed east on Main Street to begin the third annual Fort4Fitness Spring Cycle on Saturday.
This is my third year for it and third year to participate, said Jim Reams, 63, who was riding with friends.
And the event has grown each year, Executive Director Brad Kimmel said.
We’re about 15 percent ahead of last year, when we had about 1,200, Kimmel said.
The whole goal of it is to get people together, get the summer kicked off in a real positive way and put a focus on family.
The Spring Cycle isn’t about competition, who finishes first or who has the best time. The emphasis is about getting up on a Saturday morning and getting on your bike.
The Spring Cycle was part of Kickstart Festival, a one-day sampler of what the city has to offer all summer long with public art, theater performances and bicycling.
Riders had three choices of tours Saturday: 18, 33 or 43 miles.
Linda Osborn and her daughters Ashley, 16, and Megan, 13, joined up with neighbors Shelli Eicher and her daughter Lexi, 15, to go 18 miles.
I did it last year with Ashley, Osborn said, and I wanted my younger daughter to do it. Then we wanted our good friends to do it with us.
So somewhere in the mass of wheels and gears were those five.
My mom and I would practice last year before we came here, and I was like, This is so boring,’ Ashley said. But once you’re with a big crowd, it’s so much different. It’s so much easier to push yourself and get through it.
And then there are the solitary riders, such as Andrew Rivers, 38.
Wearing an orange T-shirt with long, camouflage-print sleeves, fluorescent yellow shoes and a gray helmet with hand-grenade stickers on the side, the former Concordia High School football player was an imposing figure on his two wheels.
My friend got me into (riding), and I kept doing it, he said. He added that he does it for exercise, and I like to stay mobile.
Reams stays mobile. He said he put 2,200 miles on his bike last summer.
This is what I do, he said. I don’t wear earbuds. I don’t listen to music when I go out. I just kind of enjoy where I’m at and what I’m doing at that time.
Which is the general concept of the Spring Cycle, Kimmel says: just enjoy.
The trail system has really grown, and with the city’s efforts to create bike routes on city streets, it’s just an increased opportunity for people to use a bicycle as both a mode of transportation and an enjoyable way to get a little bit of exercise, Kimmel said.
Today is just a great example of everybody working together and creating just a fun festival.