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  • Sat July 22 2006
  • Posted Jul 22, 2006
By Melissa Regennitter of the Muscatine Journal MUSCATINE, Iowa — No matter how long you’ve been riding a bicycle or how fast or slow you prefer to go, Melon City Bike Club members think you’d fit in perfectly. David Cooney, 52, and his wife Linda, 51, have been members of the club for nine years. Linda rides with a leisure group and David rides in a mid-range group that travels fast, but not as fast as the groups that average 20-plus mph. “I enjoy the camaraderie and diversity of the people,” David said. “There’s a group for anyone who rides a bike to fit into.” David will be riding RAGBRAI this year and is one of at least 50 club members planning to join him for the 34th annual event. It will end in Muscatine for the fifth time in its history. And for the second year in a row, David will plant a tree in each overnight town along the route. “It’s a positive way to leave a memory behind,” he said. Ginny Garretson, 46, has ridden RAGBRAI the past two years. This year, she will complete only the last two days because of her work schedule. Garretson said that she’s acquired the nickname of “last one up the hill.” It doesn’t bother her because she has the support of her fellow riders. “Someone will always wait for me and protect me from dogs,” Garretson said. The Melon Heads She rides with a team that is a sub-group of the Melon City Bike Club called the Melon Heads. If you run into a bicyclist around town with a giant melon slice on his or her jersey, you’ve probably met a Melon Head. There are approximately 30 Melon Heads. Some get together at 6 p.m. on Monday nights at the Missipi Brewing Company. They take a social, 15-20 mile ride, often traveling to other bars. According to Tom Hammer, 58, the bright melon jerseys bring the team together. The team is simply a group that was formed because they enjoy riding together. Most important, Hammer said, the Melon Heads wear their jerseys to bicycling events such as RAGBRAI so they can locate one another in a crowd. When the team rides RAGBRAI, they also wear melon slices on their helmet, which attracts even more attention. “We can’t always stay right along side one another (during RAGBRAI). I can look ahead and see the melons and know where my friends are,” Hammer said. “Sometimes we’ll pass people and ask ‘have you seen any Melon Heads?’ and they’ll know exactly what we are talking about.” Hammer has ridden RAGBRAI 21 times and he’s planning to dip his tire in the Mississippi River along Muscatine’s riverfront when the ride winds up on Saturday, July 29. The Melon City Bike Club was established more than 34 years ago. Today there are approximately 125 members. Eric Furnas, 32, has been a member for three years and is currently serving as vice president. For him, the club makes it easy to spend time with people who share a common interest in a healthy hobby. He also appreciates the memories that are made and having a fun team to ride with on RAGBRAI. Closer to home For regular rides close to home, the club breaks down into groups for different speed levels. Riders who prefer to take it easy meet with the leisure group. This ride travels approximately 5-10 miles at a fairly slow, comfortable pace. The mid-speed groups might travel 25-30 miles with 16-18 mph average pace. Then there are the riders who like to hit the road quickly. They average 25-30 miles at a pace of 18-23 mph. Contact Melissa Regennitter at 563-263-2331 Ext. 317 Or mregennitter@muscatinejounral.com Details The Melon City Bike Club is affiliated with USA Cycling. The club hosts family rides, dinner rides, out-of-town bicycle trips, and a bicycle race. Safe cycling and observance of traffic laws are always encouraged by the club. More information: online at http://www.meloncitybike.org/

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