Warmly bundled crews of bikers, hikers and paddlers geared up on Sunday to carry on deep-rooted annual New Year’s Day traditions — active outings that got them up, out their homes and outside in every corner of the Quad-Cities.

• At 10 a.m., seven fat-tire bikers with Friends of Off-Road Cycling, or FORC, congregated in Milan for a cruise along paved and primitive trails for views of area waterways. 

• At 10:30 a.m., 14 members of the dog-friendly Quad-Cities Women’s Outdoor Club began trekking through the woods at Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf.

• At 1 p.m., four dedicated winter paddlers with the Saukenuk Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club launched their watercraft into the icy open waters of the Mississippi River in Davenport.

Meanwhile, 220 runners, joggers and walkers competed in the inaugural Resolution Run 5K in Moline that benefited the city's YouthHope Center.

Some of the day's go-getters fulfilled New Year's resolutions, while others simply followed their normal weekend routines.

Each event featured first-timers, including a few adventure-seekers who traveled here from out of town. They broke out of their comfort zones on the holiday to try a new activity on the relatively warm and sunny January day.

Several social outdoor enthusiasts, including Becky Bernard of Rock Island, belong to more than just one of the recreational clubs that hosted gatherings on New Year's Day.

"It's funny because people who say there’s nothing to do in the Quad-Cities are absolutely wrong," said Bernard, a longtime member of FORC and the Quad-Cities Women's Outdoor Club.

‘The group that’s not hungover’

Thin layers of ice atop the Rock River and the Hennepin Canal buckled and echoed as the caravan of fat bikes — bicycles equipped with oversized tires about 4-5 inches thick — approached the U.S. 67 bridge in Milan.

The riders bounced, or "stomped," single file over branches along a brush-covered trail between the two waterways. 

They didn't race or track their mileage. They just pedaled for the fun of it from the Steel Dam, Lock 30, west to the Rock River's confluence with the Mississippi River in Rock Island.

"You can ride anywhere and over anything with a fat bike," said Bernard, who compared her thick-tire bike to a dump truck. "We don't need manicured trails."

Diane Jackson, who owns Verve Fitness in Milan, tagged along for her first journey on a fat bike. 

"It’s a different type of workout," said Jackson, who noted her first attempt, which she described as "rough" at one point, had nothing to do with the New Year. "It's just something I've been wanting to try."

She later said she felt "good" after the ride and mentioned she's "pumped" to go out again.

On New Year's Eve day, a larger crowd of Quad-City fat bikers rang in 2017 with a wood-stomping session at Credit Island Park in Davenport.

Bernard, who said she did not party that night, suggested many of her FORC comrades did.

"This must be the group that’s not hungover," she said.

'Like-minded women' in the woods

On a brief break during the Quad-Cities Women’s Outdoor Club’s hike at Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf, Alisa Klein of Davenport surveyed her group about their New Year’s Eve.

“How many of us saw midnight?” she asked.

Most of them raised their hands in response, but one member, Cherrie Parrish of Davenport, said she went to bed about 7 p.m. the night before.

Parrish returned last Saturday from a two-week vacation in Florida, where she celebrated her recent birthday with family.

Instead of staying in bed and watching television on New Year’s Day, Parrish said she forced herself to exercise outside and get back on track.

“I had a month of bad eating, drinking and not doing too much, so I’m like, 'OK, let me get started,'” she said. “This is the kickoff, not a New Year’s resolution.”

Klein, who joined the nonprofit club on Jan. 1, 2012, helped guide her pack of friends through the park off Devils Glen Road. 

“I think everyone’s surprised when they find out there are wooded trails back here,” she said.

Jo and Katie Weeks, a mother-daughter duo from Seaton, Illinois, said they saw the event on Facebook and made the hour drive north to explore the area with others who know it well.

During her anniversary walk, Klein said she the resolution she made five years ago has “broadened my horizons."

“It’s a great way to explore our area with like-minded women,” she added. “I’ve done some things I never thought I had the ability to do or even was interested in.”

First-in Float

Winter walleye anglers and hardcore kayakers competed for space Sunday at the Marquette Street boat launch near Centennial Park in Davenport.

“We’ve had to chop ice before to get the boats in, but not this year,” said Rosemary Dreessen, a member of the Saukenuk Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club, which hosted its First-in Float on Jan. 1.

The open Mississippi River water measured about 34 degrees, six degrees shy of the peak air temperature that day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Dreessen didn’t participate this year, but she was there to show support for her friends who donned dry suits and navigated the choppy waters. 

Veteran cold-weather paddlers Rex Grove of Bettendorf and Davenport resident Dave Hill, the club's president, led two rookies downstream on touring kayaks toward Credit Island.

They circled Willow Island, the strip of land located just east of Credit Island, and returned, about a three-mile round trip that lasted around an hour. 

"It ends up being a tradition because we just want to do it," said Grove, who recruited the two newbies. "It's not too pretty, but it's in town, and it's close."

Joe Regan of Bettendorf borrowed protective gear from Grove to paddle in the chilly conditions, and Becky Fenelon of Marion, Iowa, sported proper layers for safety, as well. 

“I just decided this was the year I was going to have to embrace winter because I can’t stand being indoors,” Fenelon said. 

Regan, who referred to himself as the "least-experienced" paddler out there, wanted to say he did something active on the holiday rather than lazily watch football all day.

“It’s something I always wanted to do but never did,” said Regan, who traveled in his 14-foot hybrid kayak. “At least now I can say I’ve already been out this year.”


Jack Cullen uncovers different slices of life for the Quad-City Times. He previously covered the city of Bettendorf. When he's not reporting, Jack enjoys coaching tennis and exploring the outdoors.