Ciclovia Cyclists take over Stevens Point

Cassie Scott

Last Sunday, Stevens Point community members, as well as individuals from around the area, participated in the second annual Ciclovia event.

Ciclovia was free to the public and encouraged people of all ages to get outside and move. Participants were allowed to bike, rollerblade, walk, or run through the seven mile route.

The event in Stevens Point mirrored a typical Sunday in the streets and parks of Bogota, Columbia. Over two million people bike, walk, rollerblade, jog and commute in many other various ways along 70 miles of car-free streets.

On a much smaller scale, course counters for the event here in Portage County found approximately 400 participants roaming the seven mile loop.

The course went through Pfiffner Park, Bukolt Park, the Sculpture Park, Schmeeckle Reserve and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus.

Anyone partaking in the event could join the trail at any time or location and were allowed to travel in either direction.

“Most wellness-based events are competitive, but Ciclovia WI is different. Participants can move at their own pace, stop at the Active Rest Stops and join in any part of the fun they want to,” said Trevor Roark, UWSP Adventure Tours Program Manager.

One goal for the event was to get people active while exploring the city. Ciclovia was also held to increase awareness and acceptability for non- motorized travel within Stevens Point.

“There are a lot of people in Stevens Point who live close to where they work,” said senior Ben Koenig, a Health Promotion and Wellnessstudent involved with the planning of Ciclovia through his practicum. “We are encouraging people to commute to work by cycling.”

Not only were individuals out on the course allowed to set their own pace, but they were also encouraged to stop at the four different Active Rest Stops along the loop.

One of the Active Rest Stops was called The Kids Zone, which was located on the UWSP campus at Watson and Thompson Hall on Maria Drive. This stop included games, kids fit activities, and prizes.

Schmeeckle’s Visitors Center hosted Active Rest Stops where the Point Area Bicycle Service held maintenance and safety demos.

Bukolt Park also had an Active Rest Stop that included an open skate/jam at the Stevens Point Skate Park.

The fourth Active Rest Stop was at Pfiffner Park where Adventure 212 group fitness instructors conducted free Zumba and Masala Bhangra classes every half hour.

“Our Active Rest Stop is so exciting, it gets people motivated to do different activities while they are already out here,” said membership consultant and group fitness Zumba instructor, Emily Nowak.

Neha Malik, another group fitness instructor from Adventure 212, explained that Masala Bhangra in India translates to ‘spicy folkdance’ in English.

“It is a blend of Bollywood and Punjab, one of the northern states of India’s dancing styles,” Malik said. “Both Zumba and Masala Bhangra are a way to make people relax in a fun way. We don’t consider them exercise because it is so fun, even though they give people a hardcore cardiovascular workout.”

As the Adventure 212 instructors got people dancing and moving in front of the Pfiffner Park stage, Divepoint Scuba members advised participants to try kayaking, slacklining and disc golf along the Wisconsin River front.

“We want to be involved in anything in the community, especially anything and everything along the river front,” said owner of Divepoint Scuba, Carrie Butt.

Butt encouraged everyone to give the three activities a try because they are just good fun.

The Ciclovia event had a lot of support from businesses around the community in addition to the many participants taking advantage of all of the activities provided.

51-year-old, Dale Carlson from Iola, was at Ciclovia to support his wife who works at the university. An avid kayaker already, he was excited to try his luck at the skateboard park and give slacklining a whirl.

“I like to get outside and enjoy the weather; it is such a unique community event in that it is not a race. It gives people the chance to get outside, meet people and try things they haven’t done before,” Carlson said.

Ciclovia welcomed people of any age. Josh and Sarah Wallace brought their two daughters to the event. Aaliyah, 3, and Ember, 1, have grown up seeing their parents riding all the time.

“Aaliyah is a bike-a-holic,” Josh Wallace said. His wife added, “She doesn’t use training wheels anymore and wants to go and do the obstacles at the bike rodeo.”

The Bike Rodeo for kids was new this year, hosted by The Stevens Point Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department.

The Boys and Girls Club provided free-to-use bicycles and helmets for children as well.

Participants may have even noticed bike ambassadors along the course.

Aaron Avwe, a sophomore Health Promotion and Wellness major, volunteered his time to ride among the crowd as a bike ambassador protecting participants along the trail.

“My job is to make sure people stay safe. I want to be a personal trainer and this allows me to get involved and meet new people,” Avwe said.

Roark believes Ciclovia was a huge success thanks to the many participants and volunteers.

“The turnout about doubled from last year and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a ton of positive feedback from participants, volunteers and vendors too,” Roark said.

He said he looks forward to Ciclovia 2014. 

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