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The Journal Gazette

Saddle up! Fort4Fitness bicycle event quite a sight

File | The Journal Gazette

Last year, the largest bicycle tour in recent memory, if ever, in Fort Wayne attracted nearly 1,000 riders who threaded their way through residential areas of the city, out into the countryside and back into town.

For people who seldom see more than one or two cyclists at a time, it was a spectacle they had been warned was coming, but they may or may not have known what to expect.

The ride's organizers, Fort4Fitness, though, were pleasantly surprised to hear from residents, thanking the organization for bringing the ride down their streets, said executive director Brad Kimmel. Seeing all the people on bikes, smiling and waving, was a first for many residents.

Well, the same ride is being repeated Saturday, and it promises to be every bit as big. In fact, it might have twice as many riders as it did last year.

In 2012, the event started at Headwaters Park and headed down Clinton Street and eventually out into the country.

This year, because lanes are already restricted on Clinton by roadwork, the ride will start at One Summit Square at Wayne and Clinton streets, where riders will follow routes between 17 and 43 miles long before returning to downtown.

Meanwhile, a separate course downtown, extending from Main Street to Wayne and from Calhoun Street to Webster Street, will be closed all day, starting early in the morning, to accommodate young riders and later to serve as a course for races that will last until 9 p.m.

Wayne will be closed from Clinton to Ewing Street, and Calhoun will be closed from Main to Washington Street all day.

On other parts of the route, police will be present at major intersections to direct traffic, but roads will remain open.

Last year, Fort4Fitness surveyed participants, and 45 percent took part in the survey, Kimmel said.

"It was very well received," he said. "People like that they can get their friends out and ride on streets they are never able to ride on."

Downtown is used as the starting point, Kimmel said, because there is little traffic downtown on weekends. While some restaurants will be open, the activities, including races that will continue until night, will provide an interesting alternative to regular traffic.

Registration for the ride started March 1, but people can still show up and register the morning of the ride. The fee for same-day registration is the same, $30, but T-shirts and other freebies that early registrants get may not be available.

Meanwhile, what are called "sag stops," with snacks and drinks, will be available along the route.

Any type of bike is acceptable for the ride, but all participants must wear helmets.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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