A volunteer helps Preston Wellman, 6, with the ring toss game. Many activies, including crafts, a climbing wall and petting zoo, were available for families at the Ride the Rock event Saturday. | Erin Gallagher/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2014 6:19AM
The beautiful weather Saturday likely contributed to what many said was the best Ride the Rock event so far. More than 1,600 people rode bicycles along the 16-mile look winding through Joliet, Crest Hill and Rockdale. Even more joined riders at the Lower Rock Run Preserve for activities including BMX stunt performances.
“This is the best weather they’ve had,” said Jaimy Spreitzer, a Joliet native who performed with Division BMX Stunt Team.
Still performing bike stunts at 42, Spreitzer is the oldest of the group and is known for his technical tricks and jumps. Another performer, Jake Whitney, 13, of South Milwaukee, Wis., is the youngest of the four-male stunt team. He wowed the audience with an upside-down flip on his bike.
Hosted by the Forest Preserve District of Will County, individuals, families and groups rode all or part of the loop, which had roads closed off for the riders.
“It’s nice because it’s all connected, they close off the roads so it takes the danger out of it,” said Andy Chlebana, a rider from Plainfield.
He rode with his twin daughters, Abigal and Annabel, 11. Not avid cyclists, this was their first year participating. It was not too hilly, but became a little challenging at the end, he said.
Some riders used special adaptive bicycles, such as a hand-cycle, according to Cindy Cain, the forest preserve’s public information officer. One such group, Adaptive Adventures, is a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor sports opportunities to people with physical disabilities, according to its website.
Not everyone finished the 16-mile ride. Sam Wellman said his kids, Preston, 6, and Ainsley, 4, rode only a short distance. Afterward, they enjoyed the activities. In addition to the stunt performances, there was a petting zoo, rock climbing wall and crafts. Many of the 56 sponsors had booths with information, games and freebies.
“A lot of people came through. The weather is great,” said Sharon Eck, of Advanced Family Dental, which was one of the sponsors. “It’s great marketing.”
Wal-Mart was the title sponsor, which contributed to the event being free registration and free activities, Cain said.