It was the hills in the Tour de Lee bike expedition that had Michael Nelson, 7, huffing and puffing.
"The best part was going downhill," he said.
Rose Moshinsky, 8, confessed to walking her bike up but liked "riding down," as well.
The Kingstowne Parkway hill was the main obstacle on the tour route that wound through Kingstowne, the community of Island Creek, along the Springfield-Franconia Parkway, past Springfield Mall, through Franconia and Rose Hill arriving back at Lee District Park. This was the third annual Tour de Lee, sponsored by Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) as a way to show off the area.
"It's one of the events folks like to do as a family," Kauffman said. "It's been doubling each year."
There were about 100 riders on the 15-mile tour. There was a shorter tour for the less experienced, and some bikers continued after stopping at Lee District Park for another 15-mile route that ended up on the Mount Vernon trail. Kauffman accompanied his 6-year-old son from Rose Hill Elementary to the park.
THE POLICE BIKE TEAM from the Franconia District Station accompanied the riders, stopping traffic at intersections and sharing their biking expertise. Officer Tony Mattos was one of the bike team members that were instrumental in developing the route. He tried to incorporate several aspects of the region.
"We wanted to show off the residential as well as the commercial. If people would just take a little time, they might find out they can use a bike [to commute]," he said.
Mattos has been on the eight-person bike team at Franconia for four years.
"I always consider this the best job in the county. It's a good change of pace than pushing a cruiser around," he said.
Bob Heitman and Jeff McKay from Kauffman's office along with local biking enthusiast Bob Michie helped with the tour design as well.
Alan Norris, vice president of Kingstowne Homeowners Association, liked the timing of the ride with the end of the sniper incident, which left 10 people dead and three people wounded throughout the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area over a three-week period.
"This event is the perfect thing they need to get the community back together," he said. "It seems to get bigger every year." Norris has participated all three years.
"I got all the T-shirts," he said, referring to the authentic Tour de Lee shirts that were sponsored, in part, by the Springfield Interchange Information office. That office's logo is on the back.
Grace Michie, 17, manned the registration table, while her father, Bob, helped with the event. Bob Michie rides his bike to work whenever possible. Although Grace does bike some, she was earning her hours for a school government requirement.
"He's very into commuting to work," Grace said. "We are a one-car family. It's excellent for physical fitness. I still ride pretty often."
Kauffman noted that he's received calls in his office for snow removal off the trail before the streets are completed in some cases.
"Trails have been extremely popular in Lee District," he said.
Sue and Jim King were also involved for other reasons aside from the sunshine, fresh air and community involvement. They are involved with Boy Scout Pack 1519 in the Hayfield area, and biking is one of the core merit badges that go toward the Eagle Scout award.
"We have a number of Eagles coming out of 1519, we're always looking for new opportunities for projects," said Sue King. Troop 1519 had six Scouts on the ride.
"It's one of the funner ones. The cyclist merit badge is one of the 12 core merit badges to go toward Eagle," Jim King said.