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River riders go full cycle through area

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Todd Mizener

Kent Countryman of Moline participated in the Ride the River with his dog Tommy last June. Mr. Countryman let the pooch run along side for portions of the ride.

Father's Day is good for a slow ride. Take it easy on Ride the River.

Ride the River, started 13 years ago, has become a Father's Day tradition in the Quad-Cities, promoting enhancement of the Mississippi riverfront on both sides of the river.

Local pedal power has pumped up a considerable bankroll to help improve riverfront trails. River Action, the group that organizes the Ride, has donated more than $75,000 to the communities of the Quad-Cities for riverfront enhancement.

The amount of money raised by the Ride is not important, but the message it sends to the river's cities is, according to River Action president Kathy Wine.

``It isn't much to build that many feet of trail, but bringing 5,000 people down to the river to ride has helped the cities realize (the riverfront) is an important amenity for the cities,'' Ms. Wine said. ``Our goal has been to make a more lively riverfront.''

The last Ride attracted 5,000 riders to the banks of the Mississippi River for a six-town jaunt along the river.

Participants traveled through Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, East Moline and Rock Island and Hampton. The Ride offered the choice of 10-, 16-, or 26-mile riverfront routes.

Riders are ferried across the Mississippi on the Channel Cat water taxi while their bicycles ride first class thanks to Adrian Carriers Inc.

The Ride provides the chance to enjoy several Q-C landmarks, like Ben Butterworth Parkway in Moline, EMPIRE Playground in East Moline, Arsenal Island and Centennial Bridge between Rock Island and Davenport.

The beauty of the river is something few other places have, and Ride the River is a rare opportunity to enjoy it atop a bicycle.

``There isn't any other ride like it,'' Ms. Wine said. ``People invite friends from out-of-town to ride it and get a chance to ride a ferry through six cities in two states.''

This year's ride will feature newly created art projects at six sites along the river. Past years have featured fish tanks with native fish from the Mississippi and other educational exhibits.

The Ride might soon get longer. Ms. Wine said River Action is trying to find ways to involve LeClaire and Buffalo in Iowa and Port Byron and Rapids City in Illinois.

-- By Kurt Allemeier (February 9, 1998)

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