The 16 mile Owl Ride route will take bicycle riders through some of Omaha’s greatest communities. And after a test run, organizers said they're ready to raise some serious money for adults with developmental disabilities.
They'll be helping the Meyer Institute in a very fun way, said Joel Vanderveen, part of the Owl Ride Committee. “It's a ride not a race so it's designed for casual riders." More than 2000 riders are expected to hit the streets Saturday night.
They'll start at Lewis and Clark Landing and ride through the city of Omaha. Some of the stops include Midtown, Dundee, Elmwood, Aksarben Village and the Old Market.
“Omaha at night, the streets at night and the city is just different then at day time,” said Vanderveen
“It's very interesting in certain parts of town to see the array of lights,” said Peter Lieben with Omaha Pedalers and Bicycle Club.
They say the route is carefully selected and tested several times for safety and appeal. Participants are asked to follow traffic laws, stopping at lights, yielding to those with the right of way.
“Safety is absolutely critical. It's a fun ride but it's not fun if you get hurt,” said Lieben.
And beyond the ride itself, is the cause - the Meyer Institute. It's one that's very close to Kim Bainbridge's heart. "When you receive that diagnosis," she said, "Downs Syndrome, it's very hard."
But Bainbridge's son Justin, who's now 23, has never let developmental disabilities slow him down. He has a ton of friends and a job he loves, folding towels at Prairie Life Fitness.
Many of Justin's friends come from his extra curricular activities, programs paid for with grant money from the Meyer Foundation.
"It's just great to introduce them to different things. I mean, adults have book clubs. Why can't adults with developmental disabilities have a book club?," Bainbridge questioned. That's how the Next Chapter Book Club was born a year ago.
As a part of that club, Justin has now read three good-sized chapter books. "It's fun," he said with a grin, "yeah."
For his mother, it goes beyond fun. "His reading has improved. He probably reads at a kindergarten to first grade level," she said.
In addition to the book club, the Meyer Foundation has helped her son and others enjoy cooking, crafting and even dancing.
"He is happy and he loves life and he lives life to the fullest, every day his cup overflows," Bainbridge said.
Vanderveen is happy to help the cause, and also looking forward to helping others get a glimpse of the wonders nighttime riding offers. “This is an impressive city. It's very very interesting on a bicycle at night,” said Vanderveen.
Anyone can sign up online at owlride.org until Friday, July 13th. The cost is $30 a person, $60 for a family. If you want to participate you'll need a bike, a helmet, a red reflector on the back of your bike and a light for the front.
The Owl Ride begins Saturday, July 14th, at 11:00 pm at Lewis and Clark Landing.