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Last month, on a Friday, I bought a bike because I decided to do my first Community Bike Ride the next day.

Turns out that was a very popular decision, and Red Wheel has seen an enormous increase in people wanting to get outdoors during the pandemic, distancing while being social with nature.

So I bought the bike, made my decision based on color (a beautiful deep purple), but it was also versatile for riding both the greenways and trails. The next morning, we departed from JCMG and rode the city's greenway for 10 miles.

Biking is a great way to discover stunning scenery, and I needed a helmet-cam so I could share the beauty, which included shaded tree-lined trails along a pretty waterway — which turned out to be Wears Creek — ending downtown and using the new bike lanes on the street, and even crossing over the new Dunklin Street bridge!

I have a new appreciation for sharing the road and our bike-friendly community. I also made new friends of all ages; a first-timer like myself received constant encouragement that I could do it, and I did, so I'll be back on the trail again soon.

Mayor's bike advice: Your best biking accessory is a helmet, and always wear it. Mine is bright pink (of course!). Add a holder for your water bottle. I added a cute bell so people will hear me coming, and don't forget a bike light for those evening rides or 2 a.m. rides?

Yes, you can ride around Jefferson City during the annual Tour de Jeff City Moonlight Bike Ride!

Confident from my first 10-mile ride, I decided to try this 15-mile tour. How hard could it be?

I expected a handful of riders and arrived at 2 a.m. at Hy-Vee to a full parking lot ready for this biking adventure. But fear started to take over as I got farther from the streetlights.

Could I ride in the dark? What if I couldn't? Then Kenney Newville rode alongside and taught me how to shift gears while riding (I told him not to tell anyone that the mayor didn't know how) and then everything clicked.

The anxiety about the darkness was all in my head. I just had to tell myself I was going to do it, and it turns out I loved it!

We circled the city, the Edgewood greenway to the new Community Park, even biked past City Hall (although nobody was there to give me a ride) and a doughnut stop at Red Wheel near the Capitol, then back along West Main. Something about the peaceful moonlight, with the only sounds being the night crickets and the bike wheels whirring by, and seeing bike lights brings fun and excitement.

I highly recommend our Community Rides or to just get out on the JC Parks greenways.

Even if you don't have a bike, Red Wheel offers bike rental, so just call ahead to reserve a bike to join a Community Bike Ride or bike on your own anytime. Community Bike Rides are usually posted on City of Jefferson, Missouri and JC Parks Facebook pages. Stay up on all things biking by visiting jeffersoncitymo.gov/parks, then click the biking tab under 'quick links' to find info about community rides and bike trails in #JCMO.

The next bike event is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.

Riding a bike is freedom, feeling the breeze, pedaling hard to get up hills, gaining speed and enjoying the ride on the way down. Meeting others, seeing nature up close and new views of places we usually only see from a car, not boxed in but instead wandering and feeling the journey.

Biking provides the perfect pace for a pandemic, to keep distance while going the distance. Join me #JCMO!

#BikingMayor

Carrie Tergin is in her second term as mayor of Jefferson City.

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