A farmer, a Navy lieutenant, a student, a professional musician, and an attorney. What do these people have in common? They all met in Mondamin on Sept. 15 for a bicycle ride in the Loess Hills.

The ride, Embrace the Hills, is the seventh annual autumn ride that brought in nearly 100 people from several states, including individuals cycling alone, friends spurring each other on, and families biking together.

This cycling fundraiser for the local food pantry, Matthew’s House, is free for all military and law enforcement, current or retired.

Cyclists donated over 150 non-perishable food items, and proceeds will go to the pantry. Gifts of homemade side dishes and desserts came in from nearly 30 people from Harrison County and nearby communities.

Volunteers met at the Mondamin Community Center to serve the bikers, while other volunteers greeted cyclists at pit stops in Pisgah, Magnolia, and Logan, giving out free protein snacks and homemade cinnamon rolls.

The well-fed participants were offered two routes, 28 miles or 59 miles. They also had the chance to vote on the color of next year's t-shirt. The winning color is purple!

Feedback from the cyclists included the following quotes from two of the 59-mile bikers: “Great ride! Great organization, great volunteers, great food. BEST ride EVER!” and “In my two years of riding, this was the BEST organized event EVER. The route was great and well-marked, and the food was WOW!”

For a glimpse into the 2018 ride, a short video produced by Zechariah Blackburn can be viewed on YouTube as he videotaped a friend of his, Samuel Shepherd of Omaha, Neb., a first-time Embrace participant.

Zechariah's use of a drone camera gives a wonderful vantage point, not only of the cyclists, but also the beautiful scenery of the Loess Hills.

Next year's ride will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, and details will be posted on www.bikeiowa.com. For more information, contact Richard and Tammi Mether at tammimail@gmail.com or call 712-456-2307.

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