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Cyclists to pedal around Waco

Sept. 23, 2003

By Trina Long, reporter

Family, friends and cyclists are invited to ride in the 19th annual Skittles Waco Wild West Century Bicycle Tour on Saturday.

'The ride is great,' said Larry Linneman, owner of Bicycles Outback and 15-year board member of Waco Wild West Inc. 'We would love for more students to come out and ride or help ... Normally, some of the sororities come out and do a good job helping with registration, but we would love to have anyone come out to help.'

Sponsored by Waco Wild West Inc., the tour started in 1985 when Cullen Smith, a local lawyer, participated in a bike tour in Wichita Falls and thought people in Waco should organize their own tour.

Last year 1,400 riders participated. The event includes different categories of tours for advanced, beginning and family riders.

Cyclists may choose from the following routes in and around Waco _ a 10-mile family fun ride through downtown Waco, a 25-mile flat route near Lake Waco, a 50-mile and 62-mile flat route and a 100-mile presidential tour route past President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford and Mother Neff State Park, the oldest state park in Texas.

Each route provides aid stations with snacks and drinks every 10 to 15 miles. Riders who choose to ride 50, 62 or 100 miles get to stop at Masterfoods USA candy factory, home of Skittles.

Aaron Elkins, a senior from Parker, Colo., who rode in the tour last year, said he recommends the ride to people and would do it again.

'The best part was getting to eat at the candy factory,' Elkins said.

Sue Fornof, advertiser for the race, said the event is a good family event 'because it is noncompetitive, and it is great exercise.'

'It gets people who would normally be inside, outside enjoying the countryside, and the proceeds go to good causes,' Fornof said.

Early registration is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Waco Convention Center. The cost is $25 per rider, and special discounts are offered for families and teams with more than 10 people. The money raised will benefit the Texas Bicycle Coalition, United Cerebral Palsy Children's Camp, Mother Neff State Park, Cameron Park bike trails and other causes.

Regular registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday at Indian Springs Park, and the tour starts at 8 a.m. Northwest Waco Kiwanis Club will offer a pancake breakfast for $3 from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. near the foot of the Waco Suspension Bridge on University Parks Drive.