When asked what he likes most about Biking with Beanzie, Toney Xidis says “everything, because it captures the kid in all of us.”
Xidis is Beanzie, a nickname given to him during his childhood. Xidis and four other Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club of DeKalb members, Bill Finucane, Marv Fogel, Dean Kruithof and Jay Schneider, started the Biking with Beanzie recreational bicycle ride in 1998.
“On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we always used to get together for a bike ride and breakfast,” Xidis said. “All five of us were active in the Kiwanis Club. We were looking for a new fundraiser. We thought, ‘Why not organize a bike ride?’”
Xidis said that at first, the event was met with some trepidation.
“We had participated in organized rides before, but some people asked “Who would pay to ride their bike?’” Xidis said. “We knew this kind of event could be successful. We wanted to raise money for bike paths and encourage kids and families to be active, to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
The 20th annual Biking with Beanzie recreational bicycle ride will be held Sunday. The ride starts and ends at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road in DeKalb.
The event is presented by Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club of DeKalb and sponsored by Northwestern Medicine. Profits from the ride support DeKalb County bicycle pathway projects and local nonprofit organizations such as Hope Haven, Safe Passage and the Voluntary Action Center.
This year, the ride route has options that are approximately 25, 46, 64, 80 and 101 miles in length. The ride also offers 3-, 5- and 8-mile family-friendly, community bicycle pathway routes.
Participants are encouraged to register early at www.active.com. Registration also is available for walk-ups the day of the event beginning at 6:30 a.m. Registration costs $35. The event is free for children ages 12 and younger when riding with a parent or guardian. The community ride on bike paths costs $10 for adults and is free for children.
Kiwanis member Bill Finucane, one of the event’s founders, helps plan the ride routes every year.
“You choose the length of ride you want, and everyone rides together for the first 17 miles or so,” Finucane said. “Then the routes separate according to distance.”
The route is marked with signs, and every bicyclist receives a cue sheet with turn-by-turn instructions. Humorous Beanzie-related signs are placed throughout the rides to help with directions.
“The humor signs give direction, making it clear which way to go,” Xidis said. “Some have movie themes, like “Three Men and a Beanzie,” or history themes like “Mount Beanziemore” instead of Mount Rushmore. They’re just a touch of humor to make the rides more enjoyable and pleasant.”
All ride routes have rest stops along the way, offering an assortment of cold drinks, including water and Gatorade, and snacks such as fruit and bagels.
There also will be more than six SAG wagons, or support vehicles, traveling the routes, ready to offer assistance, bottles of water and bicycle maintenance if needed. Bicyclists can also call an emergency number for help.
After riding their ride, participants can cool off with free watermelon and take a shower at DeKalb High School.
“The bike ride is for everyone, any age,” Xidis said. “Very young children can participate in the community rides, or ride along in a bike seat or trailer. We have all kinds of bikes, from bikes with training wheels to tandems, single speeds to 18 or 20 speed bikes, bikes that cost $500 to bikes that cost $5,000.”
Some bicyclists use the ride as practice for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, which is held the last week of July. Whether Biking with Beanzie is for practice for seasoned cyclists or a relaxed ride with family and friends, Xidis said the ride is for fun and is not a race.
“The main goal of Biking with Beanzie is to help promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle while raising funds for pathways and local nonprofit organizations,” Xidis said. “We want everyone to go out, ride a bike, get some exercise and have fun.”