DeKALB – Bike riders who’ve traveled the routes of Biking With Beanzie expect to see windmills, cornfields and sometimes roadkill fashioned as directional signs.
It’s been a running joke for the people who know of Biking With Beanzie and one of the few things that make the 15th annual bike riding event stand out, said Bill Finucane, Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club member and DeKalb second ward alderman.
“It helps people remember us,” Finucane said.
Several years ago one of the volunteers for the event decided on a whim to mark a directional sign over roadkill, he said. The Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club, which hosts the bike riding event, engage participants with other kinds of humorous signs.
The club also engages riders with food. For Sunday’s event, local businesses such as Hy-Vee, Schnucks and others were invited to set up shop.
“Everything we’re trying to do is just making it a DeKalb-friendly event one way or another,” Finucane said.
The first Biking With Beanzie event drew 110 riders, but it has grown with almost 700 riders last year, he said.
Many of those riders tend to come from outside of DeKalb County. Last year, 29 percent of the participants were from the county, Finucane said.
The other riders come to participate and support the local businesses.
“It’s a good event for the community and it’s not just raising money for us to use,” Finucane said. “It’s putting money in the economy too.”
Leland resident Nick Little and his wife, Stacia, have participated in the event for several years. Nick Little managed to bike his “century” mile last year.
“It’s just nice rolling terrain with good scenery like the [windmills],” Nick Little said.
The profits from the event support the bike paths as part of the Kishwaukee Bike Pathway Projects. They also support several charitable organizations the club typically supports, such as Hope Haven and the Children’s Learning Center.
To help Biking With Beanzie become more popular with families and children, the event began a community and family ride with shorter paths.
“It’s a nice kind of community feeling,” Little said of the bike riding event. “A lot of people look at cyclists as kind of snobbish, but to be honest most cyclists that you encounter are really nice.”