By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
Twenty-seven young-adult cyclists pedaled their way into Clinton on Tuesday as part of a cross-country journey from Providence, R.I., to Seattle to promote affordable housing.
Clinton played host to the cyclists for an overnight stay at the Ericksen Community Center and has been involved with the organization for more than 10 years.
This year, the city’s recreation department, YWCA and River Bend Bicycle Club worked together to provide a place to sleep and shower and a hot meal for the riders to enjoy.
“We (were) thrilled to have such a wonderful group come through our community,” recreation department program supervisor Josh Eggers said.
The River Bend Bicycle Club funded the meal for the cyclists, catered by Hy-Vee, and the Clinton Teen Club helped serve the food before challenging the riders to a game of dodgeball.
Teen Club Coordinator Nancy Witt said the dodgeball challenge has become synonymous with Clinton.
“The riders come to town and say ‘oh, you’re the dodgeball kids,’” Witt said. “It has become this huge thing and I think the (cyclists) enjoy doing something other than bike riding.”
They do more than just ride though. In addition to the countless days, hours and miles they have registered on their bicycles, they also participate in home-building projects in multiple communities along their route.
At the completion of the journey, with a ceremonial tire dip in the Pacific Ocean, the group will have logged 3,906 miles in 70 days, eight of those days spent working with local housing organizations building affordable homes.
Although Clinton is not one of the “build” stops, it is an essential stop-over for the organization.
Mary Moore of the River Bend Bicycle Club said the bridge between Clinton and Fulton, Ill., is the recommended entrance and exit across the Mississippi for many cycling groups.
“The bridge to our north between Savanna, Ill., and Sabula is a little dangerous and the bridge south of us in the Quad-Cities can get quite congested,” Moore said. “Since Clinton is the preferred area to cross, it’s a great way for us to showcase our community.”
Bike and Build rider Danielle Raynal said the trip has been interesting, with some ups and downs, but her favorite part has been interacting with the people along the way.
“Seeing the generosity from all these different kinds of people is a really amazing thing,” Raynal said.