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  • Thu February 27 2014
  • Posted Feb 27, 2014
submitted by Trails for Illinois.

Families, beginning bicycle tourists, and bike touring veterans looking for a RAGBRAI tune up or a quick fix for their restless legs are looking forward to GITy Up!:

Quad Cities on June 28-29, 2014.

A "single overnight", family-friendly bike camping event, GITy Up! is produced by Trails for Illinois, a non-profit trails advocacy organization, to introduce cyclists to overnight bicycle touring and to promote trail-based tourism in Illinois.

GITy Up!: Quad Cities offers two routes. The longer route is a 40 mile round trip ride along the Great River Trail from Rock Island to Port Byron, where riders will be welcomed by Port Byron's newest ambassador to the trail, a 30' tall fiberglass sculpture of a vintage cyclist that the town has christened Will B. Rolling. A shorter route, which may suit parents towing children in bike trailers, offers 10 miles of pedaling, beginning in Port Byron.

Riders on both routes will camp along the Mississippi River at Illiniwek Forest Preserve before heading back to their respective starts in the morning. Riders must provide their own tent and sleeping bags; Trails for Illinois will transport all riders' gear.

Registration is open at http://trailsforillinois.org/gityup, and is limited to 150 participants.

Trails for Illinois' executive director Steve Buchtel calls GITy Up! a "bite-sized morsel of bike camping adventure" that offers an easy way to experience trail-based bicycle touring to families, bike camping first timers, and expert bicycle travelers with just a weekend free.

The relatively short, easy riding is key to attracting families and folks new to overnight bicycle touring, says Buchtel. Buchtel also hopes that the short routes help meet an important goal for Trails for Illinois: "We want to demonstrate the contribution trails can make to local economies & quality of life in Illinois."

Buchtel is using the short routes and laid back pacing—riders have from 11 AM to 6 PM to arrive at Illiniwek Forest Preserve—to encourage participants to get off their bikes and spend time and money at the fun and unique attractions, restaurants and shops along the Great River Trail.

To track GITy Up!'s economic impact, Trails for Illinois asks riders to save receipts from the shops, restaurants, and attractions they visit during their ride, and to tally them up for raffle prizes. "Riders get a ticket for every $5 they spent," says Buchtel. Counting the tickets after the drawing gives a good ball park indication of his group's spending.

Buchtel says numbers like spending help local and state decision makers prioritize trails and cycling-related projects. "Lots of these trails are built in rail corridors that were corridors of commerce," says Buchtel. "They still are corridors of commerce. The difference is they aren't carrying livestock and coal in a rail car. They're carrying credit cards in wallets."

Trails for Illinois is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in Illinois by connecting the state's communities and countryside with an interconnected, multi-use public trail network, and by promoting the use of trails for recreation and transportation.

Trails for Illinois envisions an Illinois where residents routinely access safe, active, and enjoyable outdoor trail experiences within 10 minutes of where they live. We want to make your home your trailhead! For more information about Trails for Illinois, go to http://trailsforillinois.org.

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