'Cranksgiving' bike ride to benefit Cedar Rapids food pantry

Event takes place Sunday afternoon, rain or shine

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cranksgiving isn’t a holiday tale about your grumpy uncle. Deemed “a food drive on two wheels,” it’s designed to fill shelves in a local food pantry, while getting bicycles on city streets, thus promoting year-round cycling and road-sharing.

The name is a fusion between Thanksgiving and the crank arms that connect pedals to bicycles.

Bike messengers launched the combination bike ride/food drive/scavenger hunt in New York City in 1999, and the idea has fanned out to nearly 80 cities coast to coast. It’s now landed in Cedar Rapids.

On Sunday, riders are invited to grab their helmets, backpacks and a lock and make their way to Goldfinch Cyclery, 208 C 12th Ave. SE. That’s the starting point on the quest to purchase about $15 to $20 worth non-perishable items for the local Loaves & Fishes food pantry.

Cost is free and registration begins at noon. The ride starts at 1 p.m.

Upon arrival, participants will receive a list of goods to buy at specific grocery stores and specialty shops, including a couple of Hy-Vee stores, a Hy-Vee Drug Store, New Pioneer Food Co-op, Save-A-Lot and the Saigon Market.

“We wanted to get creative and find a few niche grocery stores,” said Logan Orcutt, an event organizer and one of the co-owners at Goldfinch Cyclery.

It’s an informal affair and meant to be fun, he said. Riders can map out their own route between 10 destinations, which will cover about 15 miles. The next-to-the-last stop is Loaves & Fishes Mission House, 1251 Third Ave. SE, where riders will leave their gathered goods before heading to the after-party at Caucho, 1202 Third St. SE, Suite 102, in the NewBo District.

For those who want to race the clock, prizes will be awarded to the fastest riders. Everyone who turns in a completed manifest and receipts will receive a free pint from Lion Bridge Brewery and an event T-shirt from Bike Rags.

Never fear — no one will be hauling a turkey around town. Orcutt said the idea is to buy items that can be easily toted, from canned vegetables and meats to dried pasta, soup mix, pancake mix and syrup.

“Not necessarily Thanksgiving dinner items, but items that are everyday meal items,” Orcutt said. “That’s the biggest inspiration for what these folks (at the pantry) do, is to organize and receive donations and make sure they get to the people that are truly in need of them.”

Loaves & Fishes, a joint ministry of Westminster Presbyterian Church and Christ Episcopal Church, is open from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, and sees between 90 and 170 people each time.

“We’re big proponents of cycling year-round, and this time of year especially, the need for food and shelters is exceptionally higher than it normally is,” Orcutt, 29, said from the porch of the mission house. “I ride by here every day to work, and I’ve seen what looks like almost 200 people on some days. It’s pretty profound, the number of people who rely on this.

“And so the connection for a fun, community focused event that gives back to something in what I would consider my personal neighborhood and our shop’s neighborhood just made sense.”

While more than 200 people have clicked “interested” on the Facebook page, Orcutt knows the weather will play a big role in the number who actually show up.

“It’s rain or shine,” he said. “Thanksgiving happens no matter what the weather is, and our food drive will, as well.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

IF YOU GO

What: Cranksgiving Cedar Rapids

When: Check-in at noon Sunday, ride begins at 1 p.m.

Where: Goldfinch Cyclery, 208C 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

Details: Food drive on two wheels: part bike ride, part food drive, part scavenger hunt. Participants receive a list of food items to buy from specific grocery stores, then deliver the items to Loaves & Fishes food pantry, 1251 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids.

Cost: Free, but bring $15 to $20 to buy food

Registration: Eventbrite.com/e/cranksgiving-cedar-rapids-tickets-39361628691

Information: (319) 775-0203, Facebook.com/events/1520014021418303/ or email info@goldfinchcyclery.com

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