Yesterday, Team Fur Bandit members gathered downtown as dawn cracked to ride in the BART – Bike for the Arts ride supporting Rockford, Illinois’ performing arts organizations.
As some of us were sill fighting to keep our eyes open, we prepapred for the brisk morning start ahead. Some of us went with the full windbreaker option. Others went with light thermals. With morning temps hovering around 50 and winds blowing 10-20 mph, we knew we were in for a chill.
Excitement grew as we rode down to the starting point as a team. We realized how much we’ve grown as a team, much in thanks to our team supporters and fans (that’s you). As we pulled up at the start, you could hear mumuring of people saying “Oh, there are the furry bike guys!”
Before the five of us started the ride together, we decided to have a team photo taken at the starting line. Thanks Brian for lending your camera skills.
Like many rides, the BART ride offered a variety of routes. There was a five-mile fun ride, a 22 miler, 37 miler and a 65 miler. If you got in over your head on the 65 miler, there was a cutoff to make it a 54 mile route.
While we were all able to start the ride together, some team members had to do shorter routes in order to make it to their day jobs on time. Mandi peeled off on the 22 mile route and DJ split from the group to finish the 37 mile route. Eli, Max and Ryan went on to ride the full 65 mile route.
The full route offered four rest stops full of snacks and live entertainment. We spent a healthy ammount of time socializing at each of the stops.
It seemed that we hit just about every hill in Winnebago County and they were all glorious. The wind on the other hand could have been a little bit toned down. Once we stopped chatting at the rest stops and started riding, we made it back in no time at all!
One thing we noticed was how smooth the roads were. Throughout the entire county, we rarely spotted a pothole. That is until we made it back to Rockford. As as soon as we hit Kilburn, our grips tightened a bit as we fought to keep the forks straight.
Another thing to mention is how well marked the route was. The turns were marked plenty in advance with a painted symbol on the road. It worked out great so you didn’t have to pull a route map out to check where your next turn was.
When we returned to the starting point, a BART volunteer suggested we pose for a picture with the bike decorating station sign. We come pre-decorated!
We all had a fantastic ride and can’t wait until next year’s BART ride. Until then, keep your eyes open for furry bikes on other charity rides as well as on roads near you.
On a side note, we’re very lucky and impressed that both DJ and Max were able to ride with the team after their injuries sustained during their wreck earlier in the week. Way to go team!