When Tom Rinker, co-owner of Frederick’s The Bicycle Escape, was brainstorming ideas for rides to add to the shop’s themed events, he came across an event started in 1999 in New York called Cranksgiving and it immediately impressed him.

The annual event combines biking, helping the hungry and a scavenger hunt.

“It seemed like a way to have a good time while giving back to the local community. ... As a business in Frederick, we are always looking to give back to local residents and causes,” Rinker said. “This just seemed like a good community biking event, especially for Thanksgiving.”

“It was a perfect fit for us,” said shop manager Roger Rinker, adding that they typically offer a monthly, all-levels ride, with themes like Spooky Spokes in October, a St. Patrick’s Day ride in March and a Groundhog’s Day ride in February.

The concept of Cranksgiving has gone global, with over 80 groups from around the world participating each November. One ride is as far away as Australia.

“I think ours is the most fun though,” Tom said. “We throw in a twist to add to the excitement by handing out color-coded game sheets with letters on them.”

Designed by co-owner Danielle Rinker, the letters stand for any food beginning with that letter, for instance the letter A could be for applesauce or artichokes. The colors represent different stores; red could be for Wegmans, blue for The Common Market. Riders get to assign each store the color of their choice and a friendly competition begins to see who can fill the most game sheet squares the fastest. Game players seem to have a blast keeping letters and colors straight while riding their bikes with new-found friends, buying food at each stop.

After all the food has been collected, cyclists deliver their bounty to the Frederick Community Action Agency’s Food Bank.

Last year’s inaugural ride saw almost 50 bikers pedaling for food, Tom said, and they presented the Food Bank with almost 1,500 pounds of nonperishables.

Ann Thomas Rinker is the mother of Tom Rinker, co-owner of The Bicycle Escape.

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