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story.lead_photo.caption Certified instructor David Bange leads a group of cyclists Saturday along the Greenway Trail during a community bike ride that began at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park. This was the third one hosted by the Jefferson City Park, Recreation and Forestry Department. The event was free for participants, and different routes, roughly 10 miles round trip, were picked for each meeting. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Saturday wasn't a typical late August day — temperatures were pleasant.

The perfect day for a bike ride.

With temperatures hovering below 70 degrees, about 30 people gathered early in the morning at the pavilion at Ellis-Porter Riverside Park for the third free community bike ride of the summer.

It was not the kind of weather organizers expected when they scheduled the ride, said Alexis Kerman, program manager for outdoor recreation with the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Each of the rides is planned for about 10 miles.

For a number of reasons, whether it's heat, riders' ability or anything else, the events have featured optional "loops," which allow riders to complete the activity in shorter distances, if they choose, Kerman said.

"We post a map of the course to our page," she said, "and just leave it up to them."

The previous community rides took place in North Jefferson City in May and along Greenway Park in June.

It takes a lot of people pulling together to get the rides planned and organized, said Ashley Varner, healthy communities coordinator for Capital Region Medical Center.

Getting JC Parks on board was essential. The organization has clout within the community and would be able to get people interested in the activity.

Healthy communities provided any needed funding — for things like cycling helmets if anybody needed them.

Nick Smith, owner of Red Wheel Bike Shop, was another important cog in the effort. Before the ride started, Smith offered tips on bicycle maintenance.

And, in case anyone showed up who wished to ride but didn't have their own bike, he brought along five rental bikes from his shop for them to use.

City Engineer David Bange, who is a certified bicycling instructor, huddled up the riders before the event started to give them some rules of the road.

"For safety," he said, "We should be riding our bicycles exactly the same way you drive your cars — or should be driving your cars."

Bicycles are responsible to obey the same traffic laws as other vehicles, he said. Two riders can travel side-by-side so long as they don't inhibit traffic. There are bicycle lanes along some of the streets. He said a bicycle should strive to travel down the center of the arrows in those lanes.

Even though there is a lot of room along some of the roads — Main Street, for example, has parking alongside lanes — the bicycles should stay in the main lanes of travel.

Bange gave the riders a few tips on signaling intentions, and then the herd was off.

Three Jefferson City women rode their bikes to the event.

Jenny Smith, Terry Lyskowski and Mary Schantz wheeled into Riverside Park several minutes before the ride started.

Smith said she was prepared with all her safety devices — including bright colors and flashing lights on her bike.

Schantz, a member of the sub-committee that helped bring a bike-sharing program to the city, said Saturday's event had several goals — promoting education and safety and getting residents more active.

However, there are limits to how active people can be.

Lyskowski said the planned route for Saturday's ride took her and Schantz right back where they started. Asked if they planned to complete the 10-mile ride with the group, she replied, "Mary and I rode over from the west side of town. We'll see how our legs feel (first)."

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