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story.lead_photo.caption Gerry Tritz/News Tribune At right, Max Earl helps Shelda Sternberg inflate her bike tires before Sunday's 10-mile community bike ride.

Sunday's Community Bike Ride in Jefferson City drew some 40 cyclists to a regular event that has helped to instill confidence in beginning and casual riders for the past couple of years.

The 10-mile ride led cyclists around the city on streets and the city's greenway system on what some participants described as a beautiful day for cycling.

The rides, held by the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department in conjunction with Red Wheel Bike Shop, are held monthly from March through November. The rides are free and geared toward newer or non-competitive cyclists. All ages are welcome.

Patti Alewel has cycled for some three decades, including many rides on the Katy Trail. She said she attended Sunday's ride because it offers casual outdoor recreation and the people are friendly.

"You can go different places on your bike you might not be able to go anywhere else," she said.

Alexis Kerman, program manager for outdoor recreation with the city's parks department, said the rides started in 2019.

"We knew that biking in Jefferson City isn't the most popular thing to do," she said, adding the city's hilly terrain is one obstacle to some people. "So we wanted to involve the community a little more."

It worked. The rides have been a success, although the number of rides was reduced last year due to the pandemic.

Lead cycling instructors David Bange and Jim Coleman spoke to the group before the ride to preview the course and give safety tips, then rode along with the cyclists.

"The ride today is a little complicated in terms of the number of turns we are going to be making, so it would be our intention to try to stay at least in sight of everyone," Bange told the group before they started. "So if you're really confident in where you're going, you're welcome to go up in front, but if you have any questions about where we're going, the rest of us are going to try to stay in a group."

Bange said the rides have been a success and have even brought in people from Boonville, Lake of the Ozarks and Fulton recently.

"So that's kind of impressive we're bringing in folks from the outside," he said after the ride. "I'm really pleased, myself (with the program)."

He said one of the program's goals is to get people who are relatively new to riding to feel more comfortable with cycling in the city and learning new routes. One person commented to him on Sunday that they weren't aware the city's greenway connected from near Schnuck's to Dunklin Street.

One man who rode with the group last year as a new rider has since bought a new bike and rides more serious rides on his own.

"We planted the seed, and he went off on his own. That's what we were kind of hoping would happen," Bange said.

Bange himself typically rides some 8,000 miles a year, including to and from work. Last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, he rode 13,500 miles.

"That was a banner year," he said.

Mayor Carrie Tergin, who has supported and promoted cycling in the city, was one of Sunday's riders.

Kerman told the group the next ride will be at 9 a.m. May 15 at Washington Park near the ball fields. Anyone with questions about the rides can contact Kerman at [email protected] or 573-634-6593.

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