Cyclists will be donning their helmets for an annual bike ride early Saturday morning for the Firecracker 100 Bike Ride and Race at Tarleton State University.

The Stephenville Kiwanis Club will host the 100K bike race and three other rides for bicyclists. The Firecracker 100, which is about 62 miles, is the route many cyclists are competing in because of the intense challenge the route offers. “Last year we had 275 participants,” said David Swearingen, past president of Kiwanis and current member of the Firecracker 100 Committee. “Our highest number has been 500 participants. This year, we are aiming for 400 or better.”

Mary Stricker will sing the National Anthem at the start of the 100K race, which will begin at 7:50 a.m. Saturday at Tarleton. The other routes, which include 10 miles, 26 miles and 43 miles routes, will not be counted as a race but as a ride for cyclists. The three rides will begin at 8 a.m. All of the rides begin and end at Tarleton.

The four bike routes follow highways, farm roads, market roads and well-maintained country roads. The routes consist of hills and the occasional flat stretches of road. Law enforcement will provide traffic assistance along the bike routes and at intersections.

Eight rest stops will be available to cyclists along the four routes, which will be open until 2 p.m. Medical assistance from South Point First Responders and Morgan Mill First Responders will be available to those in need. Otherwise, participants can find plenty of fluids and for the first time this year, “pickle pops,” or pickle juice frozen in a pouch, will be offered. Pickle juice often helps cyclists with cramps while they are riding.

“We had a lot of cyclists asking to drink our pickle juice at the race last year,” said Swearingen.

SAG Wagons, or support vehicles for cyclists, will also travel the routes to provide assistance such as water and medical supplies.

Participants will have access to showers and dressing facilities and the swimming pool with a lifeguard available at Tarleton’s Wisdom Gym. Masseuse Valerie Woods will also be available at the finish line to give massages to the participants. Tips are encouraged.

Prizes will be given to those who participate in the 100K race. The first place prize includes $100 and the Bronze Boot Award for one male division winner and one female division winner, no entry fee and a free motel reservation for the 2010 ride, dinner for two at a Stephenville restaurant in 2010 and a picture in the newspaper.

The second place prize includes $50 for one male division winner and one female division winner, no entry fee for the 2010 ride and dinner for two at a Stephenville restaurant. Third place winners will receive $25 for the male and female winners.

Tarleton cheerleaders will be at the event to cheer on and encourage the cyclists. An inflatable jump house will also be available to help entertain children.

After the ride, participants and their families will be treated to a hotdog award luncheon where door prizes will be given.

The Bosque River Boys, a singing male quartet, will provide entertainment and as word has it, Elvis Presley will be in the house and is scheduled to perform at the luncheon.

The entry fees are $30 for a single rider, $25 each for a family of four or more (must be in the same family i.e. father, mother, son) and for tandem riders, the entry fee will be $35 for each pair of cyclists. There are no refunds.

A T-shirt and goody bag will be given to the first 400 entries.

“The majority of our riders are from the Dallas/Fort Worth area,” Swearingen said. “Many of them do this year-round with at least one or two rides a month.”

Participants can register online with PayPal at www.firecracker100.com or from 6-8 p.m. Friday at Wisdom Gym. Online registration will cut off at noon today.

For those who miss out on Friday’s pre-registration, they can sign up at 7 a.m.  Saturday. Late registrants are encouraged to come early.  Helmets are required for all participants. Riders 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Kiwanis not only supports the Firecracker 100 but also local scouting, area youth sports groups, Stephenville High School Band and art class, Child Protective Services and CASA, a child advocacy organization.