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Bikes 'N' Roses Gearing Up for Last Leg of 200-Mile Ride to Springfield

ALBANY PARK — Volunteers from Bikes 'N' Roses job training program are in the homestretch of their 200-mile ride from Albany Park to Springfield in a bid to restore more than $270,000 in funds cut by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

A small band of hardy riders took off from BNR's Lawrence Avenue storefront on Saturday and plan to reach the state capital Tuesday morning.

Riders have been posting photos from rest stops along the way — including a Hindu Temple in Lemont and a historic Route 66 filling station in O'Dell — as they journey southward on their #ShiftGearsIL tour.

Bikes 'N' Roses volunteers have encountered some rough patches on their ride to Springfield. [Twitter/Communities United]

Founded in 2011 as an after-school program under the umbrella of the Albany Park Neighborhood Council (now called Communities United), Bikes 'N' Roses' job training program teaches young people bike repair while operating a pair of bike shops in Albany Park and Belmont-Cragin.

Over the past two years, BNR has been working toward reaching the point where revenue from its repair services and retail sales could cover its expenses.

A $276,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, awarded in late 2014 by outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn, was intended to tide over BNR following a financial setback. The money, applied for jointly with other neighborhood agencies, would have provided jobs for 85 youth — 30 of them at Bikes 'N' Roses.

In January, Rauner froze the grant funds.

Bikes 'N' Roses ride to Springfield has made the news across the state, including Bloomington-Normal, where riders spent Sunday night. [Facebook/Bikes 'N' Roses]

A GoFundMe campaign launched in March has raised $12,000 toward a $70,000 goal.

Follow Bikes 'N' Roses progress toward Springfield via @CommsUnited or #ShiftGearsIL on Twitter, or BNR's Facebook page.

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