Bicycle spokes ticked and snapped through chatter and laughter as cyclists geared up to honor a deceased friend, colleague, and community activist.
About 40 cyclists pedaled 11 miles through Rockville on Saturday in honor of Carl Henn, an environmental activist and bike enthusiast who died in July 2010 from internal injuries suffered after lightning struck him.
“I think we’re here celebrating the life of someone who was a community leader,” said Rockville City Councilman Mark Pierzchala. “And, in my mind, the environmental leader of the city.”
The Carl Henn Memorial Bike Ride, hosted by the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee, was not a fundraiser and was solely intended as a way to remember Henn and honor his life.
The ride wended through city streets and past four community gardens, said Carrie Klabunde, who organized the event. And a large portion of the ride followed a bicycle trail that was renamed the Carl Henn Millennium Trail in September.
The group departed from Rockville City Hall around 10:15 a.m. and headed toward King Farm Farmstead Park, which features a community garden and Bikes for the World, a nonprofit that collects unwanted bicycles and delivers them to agencies working in countries in need.
Henn’s widow, Carol Henn, donated Henn’s bike to the organization as memorial riders stopped for a break.
“We’re here to honor the work that [Carl Henn] did and engage others to live the kind of life that he lived as stewards of the community and environment,” said Nancy Breen, chair of the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee.
Henn was celebrating the harvest of a community garden in the city’s King Farm community when the storm began and lightning struck.
Denny Freezer, a member of the bike advisory committee, said he rides by the site of Henn’s death several times a week. “It always brings back memories,” Freezer said.
But the mood of the day proved celebratory, and organizers were pleased with the turnout, especially with temperatures threatening to reach the high-90s by the afternoon. Representatives from Revolution Cycles, a bike store and service shop in Rockville, checked the bikes at the start of the ride, and Bikes for the World checked them at King Farm Farmstead Park.
Participants passed community gardens at Watkins Pond Garden, King Farm Farmstead Park, Rockville Senior Center and Woottons Mill Park, Klabunde said. Henn played a large role in starting and maintaining community gardens.
“One of the places I got to know him was a community garden,” Pierzchala said.