CRYSTAL LAKE – Residents looking to take in a different view of the city will have an opportunity to see Crystal Lake landmarks under the moonlight if they are willing to take a midnight bicycle ride.
The third annual Crystal Lake Night Owl Bike Ride will kick off at 11 p.m. Saturday at Crystal Lake City Hall and take riders along one of two courses featuring landmarks such as Three Oaks Recreation Area, Dole Mansion and Veteran Acres Park. The event, sponsored by the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates, raises money for the Land Conservancy of McHenry County.
Organizer Ronald Eberle said he expects the event to draw more people than last year’s 298 riders, partly because of a new shorter route for families as an alternative to the standard 24-mile course that also will be available.
Eberle said families suggested shorter routes for children, which led to the introduction of a 13-mile course this year. The second course already has proved to be an attraction as there are 250 riders pre-registered, 60 percent of which are families with children as young as 8 years old.
“We’re anticipating a lot of kids this year,” Eberle said. “But we hope we get some people who have never ridden their bike around Crystal Lake, too, so they can see riding to the Metra or the library or lake is possible.”
The event includes past partners such as Country Donuts, which will provide treats for the riders, and Suburban Life FIT Magazine, which will provide reflective yield symbol belts to riders. Wheel Werks Custom Bicycles and Lucky Brake Bike Shop mechanics will offer support at the beginning and throughout the ride, while local songwriter Ryan Cooper will play a pre-ride show starting at 9:30 p.m.
The Crystal Lake Police Department bike patrol will be along for the ride to provide safe and clear paths.
“It really is a unique thing to see,” Eberle said. “Seeing hundreds of bicyclists turn on their lights and take off from city hall is quite a sight.”
The ride costs $20 a rider older than age 15 or $45 for a family of three or more. Riders can register online at www.clnightowlride.org or in person the night of the ride. There is a 500 rider limit. Eberle said the event would last between two to two and a half hours.