Organizers of the Hidden Gem Half Marathon in Flossmoor have announced the return of the Bike the Gem community bike ride.
The free event is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7. The ride takes cyclists of all skill levels on a police-escorted, leisurely trek through the same 13.1 mile course used for the half marathon scheduled in September.
“Our initial Bike the Gem event in 2019 was an absolute overwhelming success,” said Brent Bachus, sponsorship chairman for The Hidden Gem Half Marathon committee. “We thought maybe we would get 20 to 30 riders to join us; however, when we approached the start location that Saturday morning we were greeted by nearly 200 enthusiastic riders.”
That success led planners of the event to rethink the amount of attention and preparation to give the ride.
“While 2019 was successful in spite of minimal planning, we were admittedly caught off guard by the number of people who turned out for the ride. We needed to ensure this year’s ride followed appropriate safety measures, especially if numbers were similar to the last ride,” Bachus said.
As a result, Flossmoor’s Future, the community organization that champions Bike the Gem and the half marathon, decided to up their game with the ride this year.
“In order to keep the event organized and safe, we are instituting a registration process and requiring all riders to wear a helmet. The ride itself will be escorted by Flossmoor police on an open course and will end at the Flossmoor Station and Brewery for, of course, a few Hidden Gem pints,” Bike the Gem co-chair Cheryl Tolish said.
Tolish and her husband, Ted, stepped up to co-chair this year’s ride and reinforce a strong sense of community to the ride.
“Unlike the half marathon, Bike the Gem is not a race, but rather a joyful celebration of our community by enjoying a leisurely paced trip through Flossmoor’s unique neighborhoods,” Tolish said.
As previously announced, the Hidden Gem Half Marathon returns to the streets and neighborhoods of Flossmoor on Saturday, Sept. 11. The bike ride encourages residents to get a sneak peek of the course as well as taste the special Hidden Gem beer being made just for the half marathon.
“We have over 300 volunteers on race day from the village and most only get to see a small section of the run itself. The bike ride opens up the full course to all village residents and gives them a chance to see the course and perhaps even parts of their hometown they were unaware existed,” Bachus said.
This year’s ride will be sponsored by GoodSpeed Cycle in Homewood. Staff from the bike shop will be on hand to pump air in tires and maybe do some fine tuning.
Experienced cyclists from GoodSpeed will also help riders navigate the course. The ride starts at the Infant Jesus of Prague School parking lot on Douglas Avenue in Flossmoor, and all riders must register online at hiddengemhalf.com. There is no cost for the ride itself. Children are encouraged to ride along, though they must be accompanied by an adult.
“We encourage kids to come along, but parents need to be conscious that the ride is 13 miles long,” Tolish said.
The course, which will be used by both The Hidden Gem Half Marathon and Bike the Gem, has been approved by Chicagoland Area Racers Association (CARA) and has been certified at a perfect 13.1 miles by United States Track and Field Association (USTAF).
The course takes approximately 75 minutes to complete by bicycle.