Pedal Merced could see bigger turnout

07/24/2014 8:01 PM

07/24/2014 8:59 PM

A 10-mile bike ride this fall for cyclists of all ages could draw its biggest-ever crowd, according to a news release.

The Pedal Merced Family Bicycle Fest, sponsored by United Way of Merced County, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 12 at Merced High School, 205 W. Olive Ave., before following bike paths throughout central Merced. Three major rest stops sponsored by local businesses are planned.

Organizers are also looking for sponsors from businesses in town and involvement from nonprofits.

The event is aimed at getting families on the bike paths for exercise and fun, the release said. Registration is $10 per person or $25 for a family, and includes lunch.

Entertainment as well as informational booths are planned at the culmination of the ride. “Last year we had overwhelming participation from our community and, now that the word is out, we expect even more,” the release said.

The event has grown since its beginning seven years ago and last year’s ride drew more than 400 riders.

Organizers recommend that everyone wears a helmet and are requiring riders under 17 to do so.

It’s becoming easier to get around Merced by bike using the city’s roughly 22 miles of Class I bike paths, which are paved paths not shared with cars, like those along Bear Creek. Since 2004, the city has completed 27 bike-related projects.

Encouraging physical activity could prove beneficial in Merced County, where 40.9 percent of children are overweight and 3 out of 4 adults are overweight, according to the county’s Public Health Department.

To register for the bike ride, pick up a form at Kevin’s Bikes on Olive Avenue or United Way on Main Street. An online form is scheduled to be available Aug. 1 at www.pedalmerced.org.

Nonprofits or businesses that would like to take part can call Debbie Ripley at (209) 383-4242 or email dripley@unitedwaymerced.org.

Health-related groups looking to get involved can contact Melissa Kelly-Ortega at (209) 756-3090 or email melissakellyortega@yahoo.com.

For more information, call United Way at (209) 383-4242 or visit the Pedal Merced website.

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