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Hays Area Children's Center is kicking into gear May 3 for its annual fundraiser and to promote the Bike Hays system.

The nonprofit's 26th annual Rope 'Em Ride & Trike-a-Thon invites families and cycling enthusiasts to tour the future bike routes envisioned by the city of Hays, said Kelly O'Brien Koerner, HACC community relations coordinator. Beginners can bike 1 to 15 miles within town, and experienced riders can travel up to 100 miles throughout the area.

Koerner said she notices other communities encouraging use of bike paths when she visits friends and family. Her organization's fundraiser is an opportunity to embrace Bike Hays and spread awareness about exercise and family bonding.

"That's what our ride is about," she said. "It's about promoting our community. It's about good health and doing things for families."

The Hays ride will visit Pete Felten's 22 statues in town, while the long-distance riders will see his work in Victoria and Munjor, and travel to St. Catherine Catholic Church in Catharine.

A class will be offered May 2 for information on bike inspections and maintenance.

John Braun, the city's assistant director of public works, said approximately 25 miles of bike routes are planned for the Bike Hays grid. Dedicated paths will be built on 41st Street and on the levee from Main to Eighth. Bids for routes sharing the road with vehicles will be collected this fall. Federal funds will assist with construction.

Paul Briseno, assistant city manager, said Bike Hays will enable exercise and contribute to the nationwide push to reduce obesity.

"It allows us to continue to increase and attain that quality of life," Briseno said. "I believe that a lot of the citizens throughout the community desire some type of system."

Visit www.hacc.info for more on the fundraiser.