The annual Bike 2 Work Fair downtown was a happening place Friday morning, featuring attractions ranging from a 60-year-old Tucson man circling the pavement on a clown bike to a Bicycle Commuter of the Year award going to a hand cyclist.
Free coffee and muffins didn’t hurt in drawing a crowd.
Dozens of cyclists of all ages joined the fray at Jácome Plaza in front of the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., for free bicycle repairs, massages and tips on loading a bike onto a public bus.
Mary Catherine Habeck-Leighou, 47, whose legs were amputated in 2000 after she was hit by a debilitating skin disease, received one of the first two Bicycle Commuter of the Year awards.
She still found a way, with a special hand cycle, to ride with her kids to school several times a week.
Others, too, were honored for their contributions and inspiration to the biking community.
Jim Glock, director of the city’s Department of Transportation, nabbed the other Commuter of the Year award, although he admitted he had not ridden his bicycle to the fair Friday morning.
“The 400 dedicated employees at the Department of Transportation who keep bicycling in their minds day in and day out are the ones who deserve the award,” he said.
Two Bicycle Advocate of the Year awards were also bestowed.
One went to Bill Adamson, a Green Valley retiree active in the bicycling community.
The other recipient was Jean Gorman, a strong voice and force for cycling safety since her son, Brad Gorman, was killed cycling on Catalina Highway in 1999.
“It’s just something I know my son would want,” she said of her efforts in bicycle safety and education. “It’s not to memorialize him. Every incident is like ours all over again. I just want motorists and bicyclists to respect each other.”
Even those who were not honored with personalized, painted sprocket plaques had a gas, without gas, at the bike fest.
“I’ve always wanted to ride a clown bike,” said Victor Rothacker, 60, who had his chance Friday morning.
“No, that’s not my usual mode of transportation,” he said with a laugh. Rothacker usually rides a standard-sized bike or walks the half-mile to work every day.
Other regular cyclists, such as Jason Douglas, 38, shared their biggest joys and challenges biking Tucson’s streets.
Douglas, who regularly cycles the 10 miles to his job at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, simply enjoys the ride.
“Dealing with the extremes in the weather is the toughest,” he said. But his job offers bicycle lockers as well as showers to help and encourage cycling commuters.
City employee Jim Rossi, 49, said his biggest challenge is “getting home alive” and he would be overjoyed if his job had showers for bicycling commuters.
Rothacker’s favorite part of bicycling is slowing down to gaze at the Tucson landscape, especially the spring flowers currently in bloom near North Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard.
He said bicycling can even be romantic.
“Anything can be romantic if you make it that way,” Rothacker said. “You just have to look for the kissing trees.”
Bicycle events this weekend
What: Bike and Book
When: 3-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bookmans, 1930 E. Grant Road
Kids get story time about the environment and can enter to win a bike
What: Greater Arizona Bicycle Association Swap Meet
When: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fourth Avenue between Sixth and Ninth streets
Buy bicycle parts and related goodies
What: New Belgium Urban Assault Ride
When: noon Sunday
Where: 400 N. Toole Ave.
Ten-city scavenger hunt that kicks off in Tucson