People On Bikes

The News Leader: Bicycling in Clermont

bike-rack-225x300The topic of cyclists utilizing Clermont’s roadways has been a hot topic in social media lately.  I’ve even chimed in a time or two, inspired by seeing a group of riders using a busy, narrow roadway right next to an empty bike trail.  But my concern was not the inconvenience it may have been to me, but for the safety of the riders themselves.  However since that post, I have been somewhat shocked at the negative feelings displayed towards cyclists who choose Clermont’s roadways.

I personally feel that it is fantastic that Clermont attracts riders from all over the state and even elite athletes.  It is quickly becoming our calling card and I call on members of the community to embrace it.  I watched a viral video this morning that reminded me of where my welcoming spirit comes from when it comes to the passion for cycling in beautiful surroundings.  I grew up in Iowa, home of the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or “RAGBRAI” as it is called.  Over 10,000 cyclists peddle the approximate 400 miles across the state each year over 8 days.  The route is always different and the participants enjoy the welcoming hospitality of each pass-through and overnight town.  It’s known for its unique food vendors, pies, beer gardens and showmanship just as much as it is for the mental and physical feat that it is.  (You too can watch this video on the News Leader’s Facebook page.)

I was probably around 8 years old the first time the ride came to my hometown and the route brought them right by my grandparents’ house where I eagerly set up camp in the front yard with water and a sign welcoming the riders we knew by name.  As a radio deejay years later, we welcomed the riders again with pomp and circumstance.  Being on the Mississippi River meant we got to be an “overnight” town which meant an influx of people and dollars being spent in our locally owned businesses.  Visitors to our community bring reminders of what is great about our own backyard.  We hear subtle reminders from outside observers praising the friendly people and natural beauty of our surroundings.  I had not lived in Clermont long when another Iowa native turned Floridian reached out to me and said, “I hear you have hills there.”  He spoke the words like I was selling some high dollar drug.  He was training for a trip back to Iowa to ride RAGBRAI and eager to visit our area to ride the “hills”.

Our hills and the beauty of our landscape is sought after, now let’s make sure our sense of community and welcoming spirit matches it.  While the conversation on improving communication and safety may continue, join me in extending a warm welcome to the cyclists who want to experience Clermont’s trails and roadways.

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