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Bike to Work Week 004

Volunteer Dean "Bareback" Mathias of the Quad-Cities Bicycle Club, left, greets cyclists Glenn Boyles, center, and Jay Graffagna on their morning commute Wednesday along the Mississippi River Trail in Davenport. Friday is National Bike to Work Day, marking the end of National Bike to Work Week, and Mathias will be serving free breakfast burritos to commuters.

As a long line of vehicles formed Wednesday near the foot of Government Bridge on 2nd Street in Davenport, one commuter skirted around the traffic jam on two wheels.

Sporting a neon safety vest, shorts and sandals, civil engineer Rebecca Briesmoore pedaled her bicycle to work at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ office on Arsenal Island.

“It wakes me up in the morning,” she said about 7:15 a.m., stopped at the Quad-Cities Bicycle Club’s free breakfast station along the Mississippi River Trail in Davenport.

An attorney, two firefighters, a museum educator and about 12 other bicycle commuters visited within the next hour. In celebration of National Bike to Work Week, volunteer Dean “Bareback” Mathias greeted each of them, snapped their photos and sent them on their separate ways with water, granola bars, fruit or bites of a cinnamon roll.

“You get energized by all these people,” said a sleep-deprived Mathias, who rides on a bicycle without a seat. He arrived on the scene about 5:30 a.m., as he plans to do Thursday and Friday, National Bike to Work Day. 

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Bike to Work Week

Volunteer Dean "Bareback" Mathias of the Quad-Cities Bicycle Club welcomes a line of commuters Wednesday to his energizing station along the riverfront recreational trail in Davenport. 

East Moline firefighters Fiona Arrizza and Ben Houtekier passed through following their 24-hour shift. Arrizza, a native of Australia who lives in LeClaire, departed on her 24-mile ride to the department about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. “It’s my way of getting in training hours,” added Arrizza, whose right arm is covered with tattoos dedicated to her Australian roots. Full of energy from sleeping through the night, she planned to work in her yard when she returned home.

Attorney Ralph W. Heninger pulled up on his bike wearing a button-down shirt, khaki pants and dress shoes.

“I started riding to work as much as I could 10 years ago,” he said, noting his roundtrip between his home in Bettendorf and his office in downtown Davenport spans about 7 miles. When he commutes by bike, Heninger feels as though he is on vacation, “when in fact I’m just going to work.”

“It’s mentally helpful to have that mindset,” he said.

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Bike to Work Week

Volunteer Dean "Bareback" Mathias of the Quad-Cities Bicycle Club greets attorney Ralph W. Heninger on his way to work Wednesday along the riverfront recreational trail in Davenport. Mathias is serving free snacks this week to bicycle commuters 

While Mathias, a retired elementary school teacher who lives in Milan, has met several new bicyclists this week, his longtime friends go out of their way to see him, too.

After running 6 miles early Wednesday, Claudia Brewer of Moline biked to Davenport before rerouting to Moline for work at MetroLINK's Centre Station. 

"It's my peaceful time in the morning," she said of biking to work, which she tries to do every day. "I find it helps me if I have a bad day."

People bike to work and school for a variety of reasons, Mathias said, and he strives to spur new connections among the people he interacts with on the trail.

“It’s about building community," he said. "It's (bicycle commuting) more fun than you think, and now's a good time to start."

The benefits, he vowed, do not stop at breakfast.

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Bike to Work Week

Volunteer Dean "Bareback" Mathias packs Fresh Deli cinnamon rolls Wednesday for passing commuters during Bike to Work Week. 

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Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.