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Biking with Beanzie celebrates 20 years of local riding

What started as an idea for a fundraiser for the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club of DeKalb among four of its members has grown into one of the most anticipated annual bike rides in northern Illinois.

On Sunday, Biking with Beanzie celebrated its 20th anniversary as hundreds of riders took to the streets of DeKalb County.

The ride continues to grow, and over the past 20 years, it has raised more than $100,000 to support the maintenance and expansion of bike paths in the county.

Toney Xidis, Kiwanis member and co-founder of the ride, said that he’s always been a cyclist and thought sponsoring a ride would be a great fundraiser.

“Organized rides are well-marked, you have [support] vehicles, rest stops and support in case someone breaks down,” he said. “It’s a very different experience than riding alone. There’s an energy and a common bond that cyclists have with each other.”

Some of the money raised will support the bike path extension on the south side of DeKalb, said Bill Finucane, a DeKalb 2nd Ward alderman and longtime Kiwanis member.

“The path will go under Lincoln Highway, under the railroad bridge and to Prairie Park before continuing on to Lions Park,” Finucane said. “That will make an easier connection to the path in southern DeKalb.

“A lot of people use the bike paths to get around town. They’re also very popular with recreational riders.”

Riders had the option of choosing routes from 25 up to 101 miles, all of which begin and end at DeKalb High School.

There also were 3-, 5- and 8-mile family rides that stay along the bike path in DeKalb. Xidis said about
25 percent of registered riders choose the 101-mile course, followed by the 25- and 44-mile rides.

Tim Glinski of Palatine said he rode the 66-mile course. It was his first time riding in DeKalb County.

“I brought my dad. This is his Father’s Day gift,” Glinski said. “We like doing charity rides and we were looking for a nice ride to do together.”

Sarah Kimball of Sycamore was originally hoping to do a long-distance ride, but had to change her plans after suffering a leg injury.

“This is my first time doing this ride, and now I’m just doing the eight-mile ride,” she said. “The ride supports a great cause. It’s a great thing if more people get out and enjoy the bike paths.”

Molly Marks of Chicago was looking forward to returning to DeKalb for the ride. As an alumna of Northern Illinois University, she said she’s happy to support the ride’s cause.

“I’ve been doing this ride since
I was at NIU,” she said. “This community is awesome. I love coming back here and support riders and the biking community.”

Marks wasn’t the only NIU alumni to ride. Diane Ryzner and her husband both graduated from NIU and now live in Rolling Meadows, but they try to participate Biking with Beanzie every year.

“We love DeKalb, and it has a lot of great memories for us,” she said.
“I love riding in a rural area, and Kiwanis does a lot of great things
for the community, so we’re happy
to contribute.”

Another NIU alumna, Mary Margaret Pucci of Chicago, is training for the Chicago triathlon and thought the ride would help.

“I’ve always wanted to do this ride, and this year I put it on the calendar,” she said. “It’s nice to be back in DeKalb and see all the cornfields. We live in a concrete jungle, so it’s nice to ride on the country.”

Sandy Arndt and her husband,
of Clare, were gearing up for the family ride with their two children,
and were hoping to do the 8-mile route. Sandy said this is the second year the whole family was riding together.

“It’s a good activity that we can
all do together. It’s hard to ride out in the country where we live with kids, so this is a nice ride for us,” she said.

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