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DeKALB – The temperature was higher than 90 degrees when Joan Mulcahy ended her 46-mile bike ride Sunday, coasting into the parking lot at DeKalb High School. But far from being exhausted, the Chicago woman looked exhilarated.
“It was hot, but it was fabulous,” she said. “It was challenging, but it was beautiful. And it was for such a good cause.”
Mulcahy was one of about 530 cyclists who braved Sunday’s muggy heat for the 12th annual Biking with Beanzie charity ride. The ride, sponsored by the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club, raises funds for community service projects, primarily building and maintaining bike and walking trails around the area.
Mulcahy rode with her daughter, Cathleen, and friends Trish and Abby Hinkes, also of Chicago. The quartet said the ride was challenging but a lot of fun.
“It was very well-organized,” Trish Hinkes said. “All the volunteers were wonderful. They were encouraging, and they were always ready with water and snacks and Band-Aids.”
Volunteers patrolled the ride’s routes – which range from 23 to 101 miles – with eight enclosed vehicles and at least seven motorcycles, said Kiwanian Tony Xidis, whose childhood moniker of “Beanzie” inspired the ride’s name.
The heat was tough on some riders, Xidis acknowledged. Volunteers picked up several cyclists complaining of stomach cramps and heat exhaustion, as well as at least one who had mechanical problems with her bike.
“This morning was ideal with the cloud cover, but once the sun came out it was a scorcher,” Xidis said. “But people who like to ride come out. Hot, sunny, humid, it doesn’t matter. People who enjoy riding always come out.”
Rick Arnopolin of Wheeling and John Loesch of Villa Park have been participating in the ride for at least the last five years, maybe longer, they said. The day didn’t offer the most comfortable riding conditions, but they remember years it was hotter.
They chose the 62-mile route, but an onboard computer on Arnopolin’s recumbent bike showed they had finished 71 miles by the time they rolled back into the high school parking lot, Loesch said.
“I want credit for every mile,” Arnopolin quipped.
The ride routes wind along rural, paved roads and include frequent rest stops where cyclists can get water and snacks, Xidis said. The routes are also peppered with small signs featuring jokes, jingles and other bits of humor.
“The signs are just there to make it more fun,” he said. “Otherwise it’s just corn on your right, corn on your left, and how long can you ride with nothing to look at but corn?”