Having something to work toward is a big factor that can keep someone coming back to the bike paths, and there are plenty of such opportunities in and around Columbus. Of course, one of the best-known mass rides is Pelotonia, the annual race that raises massive sums of money for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. “The reason we chose a bike ride is because we’d seen other rides around the country have success with this model,” says Jillian Blaine, director of marketing and communications for Pelotonia. “Bikes are accessible to most people, and you don’t have to be an athlete to participate in Pelotonia. We want cancer advocates that believe in our mission to end cancer.” Over the seven years the race has been in existence, organizers have seen participation from huge fundraising groups, small collectives of friends and neighbors and – in some cases – groups that started out small, with the minimum five members, and have now grown their membership levels to the 20s or 30s. One such group is Girls with Gears, which certainly welcomed the challenge. “A group of ladies who saw the first year of that event … thought, ‘That’s pretty cool, I had no idea how to ride a bike, but I want to,’” says Cowardin.
Pelotonia Facts • Route: As many as 180 miles, from Columbus to Gambier (and, for the most daring cyclists, back) • 2015 race had almost 8,000 participants across 277 teams and raised over $23 million • Seven-year total is just north of $108 million • Registration for 2016 begins Jan. 20 “The Columbus community as a whole has really rallied behind this cause.” –Jillian Blaine, director of marketing and communications
Another Race One of the oldest rides in town is the Tour de Grandview. The 22nd annual event is slated for June 17.
“The community of Grandview loves it,” says Marta Durban, senior recreation supervisor for the city of Grandview Heights and one of the event’s organizers. “They love the sporting aspect of it, they love the family aspect of it.”
One factor increasing inclination toward bike trips: greater connectivity between bike routes. Additional trails were the No. 1 accommodation requested by Columbus residents when the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department put together its master plan in 2014. The department – in conjunction with the Department of Public 18
cityscenecolumbus.com | January/February 2016
Photos courtesy of Pelotonia (3) and Tour de Grandview (2)
Though the race pulls in an international group of professional cyclists, the field always includes some locals. And it affects more than just those who participate: A street party draws huge crowds every year.