Smile Politely

C-U Across The Prairie: A “cycling extravaganza”

This coming Saturday on August 23rd, 2014, the Prairie Cycle Club will be hosting their annual “Cycling Extravaganza” to introduce more people to the joys and benefits of cycling in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The event, called C-U Across the Prairie, features five different distance options, including a 10-mile ride that the Prairie Cycle Club website calls “great for families” and a 63-mile ride that includes 25-mile and 38-mile loops, with three distance options (17-mile, 25-mile, and 38-mile) in-between.

“The riding will be two-lane lightly traveled country roads, although there will be some city traffic leaving and re-entering Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet and St Joseph,” John Prince, President of the Prairie Cycle Club, wrote in an email to Smile Politely.

“[It’s] definitely a family friendly event,” Prince said. “We will have a guided family city route of about 10 miles, a shorter 17-mile loop, and the ride start is proximate to the Sweetcorn Festival which has entertainment for family members who do not cycle.”

Prince expects to see 150 cyclers out there on the country roads this Saturday as part of the event and hopes that the event will get more people interested in cycling and fitness in general.

“While there is a fundraising aspect to help cover our expenses and fund a small benevolence, the primary goal is to get more people interested in cycling and fitness in general,” Prince said. “91 out of 150 riders last year had no affiliation with any cycling organization.  For many it was the longest ride they had ever done.”

Although participants must bring their own bike and be fit enough for the distance they chose, light mechanical repairs will be available at the start of the event for minor repairs and vehicles will be provided to assist disabled cyclers.

Terrain will be mostly flat with a few light rolling hills, indicative of the area in and surrounding Champaign-Urbana. Two stops included on the route for some of the longer loops are Mahomet and St. Joseph, where cyclers can expect to experience some light traffic.

The Prairie Cycle Club lists on their website some “Rules of the Ride,” which are designed to keep cyclers safe and minimize the threat of injury. They are:

  1. Ride no more than two abreast ― single file in traffic and at intersections.
  2. Pass only on the left ― and announce your intentions by calling out “On your left.”
  3. When riding in a large group, create space to help motorists pass safely. Break into sub-groups.
  4. Maintain a safe distance from the rider ahead of you.
  5. Check all intersections for traffic. Avoid “group think.”
  6. If you stop, pull completely off the road. All the way.
  7. Always ride with traffic ― never against traffic.
  8. Obey traffic signs and signals, markings and regulations.
  9. Use hand signals to indicate left turns, right turns and stops.
  10. Warn riders behind you of pot holes, dogs, cars (up, back, left, right), and other obstacles on the road.
  11. Check your bike before every ride to be sure it’s in safe operating condition. Check tire inflation and seat height as well. (ABC Quick Check: Air, Brakes, Cables & Quick Release levers)
  12. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET when riding your bike! Accident prevention is the first principle of safety, but accidents sometimes do happen. Helmets are the best means of minimizing head injuries.

In addition to providing for light mechanical repairs and vehicles to assist with disabled cyclers, the Prairie Cycling Club will be providing snacks and drinks at the departure point, which is Parasol Records at 303 W Griggs, Urbana, IL.

People who sign-up for the event by the 20th of August will receive a $5 discount, and those that have a Prairie Cycling Club membership will receive an additional $5 discount. Club memberships can be purchased at the time of registration and the discount will apply.

“This ride is primarily geared to introducing people to the joys and benefits of cycling,” Prince said. “It shows riders how they can have a safe enjoyable ride within the area.  It also may get people to extend their comfort zone that they can ride their bikes beyond what they expected and get them more comfortable with riding.”

The Prairie Cycle Club (PCC), founded in 1971, is a local not-for-profit social group for bicyclists in Champaign and adjacent counties in Illinois. We serve a variety of bicyclists including beginning riders, recreational riders, touring cyclists, long distance riders, commuters, and racers.

People wishing to register for C-U Across the Prairie can sign-up at

People wishing to volunteer for the event can contact John Prince at

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