DeKalb native Jim Gulstine had hoped to ride at least 30 miles Saturday morning when he began his route from the Egyptian Theatre.
However, after getting two flat tires along the way, he was done. Although he was disappointed, the St. Charles resident said he was happy to be back in DeKalb supporting the theater for the 11th annual “Ride Like an Egyptian” bike ride.
“Once the second tire blew out, I figured it was a sign to stop,” he said. “I wanted to come back with my old friends from DeKalb [for the ride]. We took a tour of the Egyptian, and it’s a lot cooler than I remembered as a kid. When we heard about this ride, we wanted to do it to support the theater because it’s so unique.”
About 200 riders from DeKalb County and surrounding communities rode anywhere between 25 and 100 miles that took the cyclists east to Maple Park and into southern DeKalb County. All of the money raised from the ride goes to the theater’s general operations fund and supports ongoing maintenance. This year, the ride raised more than $5,000, Executive Director Alex Nerad said.
“People from all over the Midwest come for this ride because it has a reputation for being well-organized, and people are looking for an established ride,” he said. “When we were thinking about a fundraiser, we thought a bike ride would bring a lot of people here who don’t know about the theater and will hopefully come back and attend our events.”
Caroline Skaret of DeKalb has participated in the ride for several years. The cycling enthusiast said she loves the ride because it supports the Egyptian.
“It’s a fun ride, and I always meet new people every year,” she said. “It’s a good route, the weather was good, and I had a lot of fun, but for me it’s about the theater. It’s a beautiful place.”
Erin Sherill of DeKalb, a member of the Kish Bike and Rec Club, rode
85 miles with other club members. She began her ride at 6:30 a.m. and finished about 1:30 p.m.
“It’s fun, and I like how far out it goes, and how flat the route is,” she said. “I was going to try to do 100 miles, but it didn’t happen. I do like to support the theater because this is one of the few Egyptian-style theaters left in the nation.”
Bill Pitney of DeKalb said he usually does long-distance rides on weekends, and once he saw Saturday’s weather forecast, he decided to do the ride.
“It was a good ride. I like having other folks on the route. I met a lot of new people, and this was very well-organized,” he said.
Volunteer Mary McGinn got to the theater bright and early at 6 a.m. to help set up, and said she was staying all day to help clean up afterward. The DeKalb resident said she loves volunteering at the theater and was enjoying helping all of the cyclists.
“This theater is a jewel and an amazing cultural gem,” she said. “This is my first time volunteering at this race, and I love it. I’ve been impressed with the organization and have received a lot of positive feedback from the riders.”