BELOIT - Beloit will once again be entertaining Ride Across Wisconsin (RAW) riders on their trek from Dubuque, Iowa to Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Rock Bar & Grill, 101 Maple Ave., will serve as a lunch stop along the beautiful Rock River on Saturday.
Around 600 bicyclists from 23 states and Canada are expected for the 4th annual one-day, 175-mile ride. RAW is the signature event for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, a state-based advocacy group.
The Rock Bar & Grill will provide lunch for the bicyclists as they stop in Beloit at the 105 mile mark before they embark on the last 70 miles to Kenosha. Bicyclists will be arriving in Beloit between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
More than 50 local volunteers will assist riders through the city streets and bike paths into and out of Beloit. Entertainment at the rest stop will include cheerleaders from Beloit Memorial High School, the Even Start Hispanic dancers, the Strike Force Gospel Singers and a bagpiper.
There are a number of local bicyclists who are participating. For example, Stateline Spinners riding group participants include: John Pfleiderer, Fred Hasse and Jon Nelson. Janesville Velo Club Riders Paul Murphy, Rob Cook and Darrin Rutherford also will be riding.
Bike Fed executive director Dave Schlabowske said Beloit has been a great partner for RAW.
He said when Beloit first was suggested as a lunch stop some riders had some questions as they didn't know anything about the city.
"After that first year, everyone who participates tells us that Beloit is one of their favorite stops on the route," he said.
Because of Beloit and its many volunteers and the entertainment provided, it's a highlight for many of the riders.
Schlabowske said the new stop at The Rock will give riders a new view of the river this year. By not using caterers and opting for the restaurant, Schlabowske said it will bring in a little bit more money into Beloit. The riders try to incorporate stops at local businesses and support selected volunteer groups along the route.
The event is not a race, but rather a challenging bike ride with professional support and numerous, well-stocked rest stops. There is no timing and no prizes.
The ride starts at dawn on the downtown streets of Dubuque, crosses the Mississippi River and climbs through the hills of southwest Wisconsin's "driftless area" before flattening out in the second half.
One of the big attractions of RAW is getting a chance to meet and ride with Jens Voigt, a 17-time Tour de France racer and Sven Nys, two-time World Champion cyclocross racer. Both raced for Trek during their professional careers. Trek Bicycle Corp. of Wisconsin is a major supporter of RAW and the Wisconsin Bike Fed.
Profits from RAW help the Bike Fed continue to teach bicycle safety education across the state and for 4-H groups who volunteer at rest stops along the route.
For more information visit http://rideacrosswisconsin.com/
Pfleiderer said this will be his third RAW Ride.
"It is a great ride. We are really fortunate in this part of the state to have beautiful paved roads that are bicycle-friendly," Pfleiderer said.
Pfleiderer said the ride goes through a number of communities and the organized approach of volunteers of Beloit has been remarkable, welcoming and helpful to riders who might be a bit weary on their rigorous journey.
"It's a lot of calories, and depending on the heat, it can be a lot of challenging, he said.
Pfleiderer said RAW does a nice job of having rest stops every 25 miles. The western part of the rides includes plenty of hills, but also beautiful vistas and no shortage of sights of corn.