Several months back Lon Haldeman visited the Bike Fed to discuss creating a simple, inexpensive bicycle route system on the scenic roads that wind through the beautiful countryside around his home near the Village of Sharon. For those of you who don’t know Lon, he is a Wisconsin cycling legend. He is a multi-year winner of the the Race Across America, he’s one of the founders of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association. and he has held 8 transcontinental bicycle records.
Lon’s vision was to create a series of signed loops around Sharon that would allow people with all levels of bicycling experience and endurance to experience Sharon and the surrounding countryside. Lon was insistent that he wanted to make it happen in a few months and he wanted the budget to be less than a few thousand dollars.
I remember admiring Lon’s vision and encouraging his effort however I wondered how he was going to pull it off. Signage is typically expensive (I thought) and any sign that goes up needs to abide by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) (or so the traffic engineers and public works directors tell me).
Well, Lon and many other people in Sharon have done it! The signs are being installed this week and the Sharon Cycling Series will officially launch on Saturday, August 18th to coincide with the village’s annual Roun’da Manure Bicycle Tour.
“I have been riding these roads for over 40 years” said Lon. “The road network here is some of the best in the country. We want to invite riders from the surrounding states to come ride these great roads”.
The center hub of the Cycling Series is of course Sharon with a cloverleaf of four routes extending out to area towns. These loops include Capron, Illinois (16 miles), Clinton (22 miles), Darien (18 miles) and Fontana (23 miles). All together there are 79 miles of well marked roads in the series. Each route is marked with white reflective signs and color coded arrows at each corner. Most of the roads have traffic counts of less than 10 cars per hour. The routes were chosen to be ridden by a family with young children who want to ride 10 miles to an area ice cream shop. Combining several routes will give serious riders a challenging workout. Printed and online maps are being prepared, stay tuned to this blog for details when they are available.
Congratulations to Lon, Village of Sharon Board President Diana Dykstra and to the many others who worked to make the Sharon Cycling Series happen. Congratulations also to the Village of Sharon and it’s neighbors for taking the simple and easy step to make your communities a better place to live, to visit and of course to bicycle. Thanks for reminding me that at the end of the day it car take the hardwork and dedication of a only a few committed people to make a big difference.