Oak Lawn starts summer with bike rally, events
By Steve Metsch email@example.com June 22, 2014 12:14PM
Some of the 200 bicyclists in the third annual Oak Lawn Bike Rally pedal through the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge near Richards High School. | Steve Metsch/Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 24, 2014 6:16AM
Ron Rodriguez, wife Jennifer and son Alex were among the 200 bicyclists who participated Saturday in the third annual Oak Lawn Bike Rally that provided that rare bonus of exercise, family time, and sight-seeing.
Bicyclists started at the downtown Metra train station and toured streets south of 95th, making their way through the Wolfe Wildlife Refuge and near the Stony Creek Golf Course before they caught up with the pet parade at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School on 99th Street.
There, they led the way for about 50 people who were walking their dogs on leashes from the school to the Village Green for the day-long Spring Into Summer celebration hosted by the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce.
But before things got rolling, the Rodriguez family, of Oak Lawn, discussed why they were there bright and early at 8 a.m., helmets on their heads, ready to ride.
“I’m the clean version of Alex Rodriguez,” the 12-year-old joked.
Ron, 65, and recently retired, said they were on vacation and missed last year’s ride.
“We get out once or twice a week. We like to ride the I&M Canal trail,” Ron said. “It gets children active, keeps them fit, gets families together. Cycling is a great exercise at any age.”
They’ll get plenty of exercise later this summer as they plan to ride their bikes halfway around Lake Michigan. On Saturday, the distance was far less, roughly 10 miles.
Village Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th) said the bike rally, “speaks to the spirit of the community.”
“To get people together for an event like this, that’s what makes Oak Lawn a great community. Families participate in these type of events,” Vorderer said.
Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd), who was busy making sure bicyclists had enough water to drink, agreed with Vorderer.
“It’s a true Oak Lawn day. Take a look at all the families and kids. Registration was my favorite four-letter word, ‘free.’ And Fairplay Foods donated all the food for sandwiches at the end. This is a nice event,” Olejniczak said.
Bicyclists came from far and wide.
Roman and Cari Szczesniak, members of the Oak Lawn Bike Psychos, a sponsor of the rally, came from Woodrige to take part.
“I’ve been riding for about 10 years. It prevents the next heart attack,” said Roman, 61, who had a heart attack when he was 47. “It’s working so far.”
During a water break outside Richards High School, Margaret Podrazik, 52, of Chicago’s West Lawn neighborhood, said she’s slowly getting back into bike riding.
“I used to do the Apple Cider Century, the Easter ride at Governors State (University). I haven’t been biking in a long time so I figure 10 miles is nothing,” Podrazik said.
Her old Raleigh bike, bought in the 1980s, is still rolling along, she noted with a smile. “I like day trips like this,” she added.
Dan Fedor, 64, of Oak Lawn, said the rally “is a great way to see the village because you see things on a bike you don’t see when you’re driving.”
Before the bicyclists caught up with pet owners at the middle school, Eric Rosenbrock was standing beneath a shady tree, making sure his bull/mastiff mix named Ranger, 5, had plenty of water to drink. The friendly 97-pound pooch eagerly lapped up water Rosenbrock poured into his cupped palm, his tail wagging.
“This is our first time. We’ve been a longtime resident and first-time dog owner,” said Rosenbrock, who bought Ranger at the PAWS shelter in Tinley Park in February.
Ranger wore a red-white-and-blue bow tie on his collar, “a little something for the occasion,” Rosenbrock said.