MB Bike the Drive 2018

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The MB Bike the Drive is quite possibly one of the greatest ways to showcase the city of Chicago. There are no shortage of stories, blog posts, and Facebook postings saying that ad nauseam, so I won’t be writing about that today.

What I do want to talk about is something that most people may not notice, but is essential to the success of the event and should instill just as much city pride as the ride itself. Today, I am going to talk about the staff and volunteers of MB Bike the Drive.

Managing a cycling event that covers thirty miles round trip with thousands upon thousands of participants is no small task in itself and I do not envy the staff of the Active Transportation Alliance with what they have to go through in the weeks leading up to the ride. Having an event that allows people to start at various times in different locations has to be stressful enough, and when looking at the temperatures that were predicted for the Memorial Day weekend, it must have added a little extra anxiety to the organizers. From what I saw on Sunday, however, the organization and services that were put in place to keep riders safe and happy were top-notch and help to make the event as memorable as it should be for the riders.

Especially as it gets a little later in the morning, the street gets a little more crowded and  more and more casual bikers and families show up to enjoy their ride. While everyone that wants to participate should, of course, be able to, less-experienced riders and a crowded street can lead to big problems. (Let’s face it, we have all seen how some people drive on Lake Shore Drive, so there is no reason to believe they will be any better on two wheels.)

Over the course of the morning, I saw a handful of crashes or people just sitting or lying down from exhaustion, but I also saw not one, but two volunteers, bike mechanics, or medical personnel for each one of those people that needed help. With the temperatures rising, there were definitely a handful of people that had overexerted themselves over the course of the morning, and the people that were there to help were on-point and prepared.

In addition to the on-course staff and volunteers, the volunteers manning the rest stops were working overtime and were doing so with smiles on their faces. Standing out there in the sun handing out Clif Bars, bananas, and water could not have been an easy job, but all the people working seemed genuinely happy to be out there and helping the cyclists. The course marshals somehow managed to say, “hello” to every single rider that rode past and you could not help but smile when passing by and hearing the friendliness in their voices.

So, yes, Bike the Drive shows off the beauty of the city, but it also shows off the beauty of the people within the city. If you participate, be sure to take in the views, but pay attention to those around you as well. The people are what makes our metropolitan area so great, so be sure to pass that spirit on, wherever you go.

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Jonathan couldn’t run a mile before his sophomore year in high school but went on to run at Hope College. Now, he runs with the Fast Track Racing Team and races in almost 30 races a year, still managing to run some PRs. He couldn’t win a 100 meter sprint if his life depended on it, but still has a pretty good kick at the end of a 10k. He is the Local Advertiser/Sales employee on Chicago Athlete's staff, and also volunteers as an Assistant XC Coach at Elk Grove High School and has done that for the past 11 years.

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