Ride&Walk4Art, a fundraiser for the Calaveras County Arts Council, sends bicyclists and walkers into the San Andreas area on Sunday, March 19. Bicyclists will start at 9 a.m. at the arts council gallery, 22 Main St., and ride up to 24 miles along Pool Station Road, which will be supervised for the day. Walkers – who start at 10 a.m. – follow a 1-mile route through Turner Park in San Andreas. There will also be an art show, live music and lunch.

“To really experience the spectacular Calaveras spring, you need to get out of your car and take some time to savor the wildflowers blooming across the Kelly green hills and the streams and ponds that reflect the sky,” says an arts council release. Cyclists and walkers “can enjoy this beauty and help fund arts in education at the same time.”

Cyclist Rob Williams said he has a couple of motives for organizing this event.

“I want kids to be exposed to the arts,” he said. “It’s a way to help local parents and administrators say art matters. I also want people to start biking and walking in the foothills.”

The fundraiser is more about fun than it is about mileage. The bike ride is a slow-and-go excursion that allows participants the option of riding anywhere from 1 to 24 round-trip miles along Pool Station Road, “one of Calaveras County’s most beautiful country roads for cycling in early springtime,” the release adds. Riders shouldn’t be intimidated because the route isn’t too difficult; the distance and elevation change along the 12-mile route makes it a Category 3 hors categorie ride, a scale that measures hill climbs on bicycle rides, with Category 4 being the easiest and Category 1 the most difficult.

“It’s a challenge,” Williams said, “but it’s still doable. Riders should not give up. During the whole ride, the cyclist is rewarded with absolutely beautiful views of the rural foothills.”

The ride distance also isn’t cast in stone; cyclists can opt to turn around at any time to avoid hills, or they can continue to the turnaround at Highway 4. Tired and peckish cyclists will find rest and snack stations at miles 3, 5 and 12.

The walk is an easy 1-mile path through Turner Park in San Andreas, and walkers will receive tickets for a drawing to win prizes for each mile walked. The cyclists will receive their tickets at the ends of their rides.

Live music and an art show featuring cycling art and walking will make the day festive, and a traditional Calaveras County chicken-in-a-barrel barbecue feeds hungry cyclists and walkers.

“More importantly, Ride&Walk4Art is the major fundraiser at the arts council to support art education in Calaveras County schools,” the release said. “Children in Calaveras County have limited chances to learn about dance, music, visual art and dramatic arts. While parents and teachers do pay attention to exposing students to art education, state funding is slender for the arts. Bike&Walk4Art, supported by local businesses and participants, provides funds to fill that need.”

The arts council has helped school administrators and teachers provide students with quality art experiences and performances in classrooms, and provides assemblies in which students hear performances or artists arrive to help paint historic murals on walls. Visiting artists also teach art classes, and the arts council has helped bring theater groups like B Street Theatre from Sacramento to entertain and educate youngsters.

“During my 25-year tenure as principal in Modesto City Schools, students in each grade level attended districtwide art performances paid by local businesses and the Stanislaus Partners in Education,” Williams said. “The art performances included fairy tale plays, holiday Modesto Symphony performances, puppet shows and performances showing cultural artistic traditions. All performances were designed for young children, and students were never disappointed; they would return to school excited about being treated to a day at the theater!”

But he adds that the arts were about more than entertainment.

“Students attending each performance were taught how to enjoy and behave,” he said. “An important part of a student’s school experience was to sit quietly through a performance and to show appreciation for artists. And, hopefully, as young adults, they will patronize the arts in their own communities.”

Registration for the Ride&Walk4Art is $25 for cyclists and $15 for walkers. Registration can be made at ride4art.com or call 754-1774.

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