Peddling through small town charm

Matt Liasse and Matt Liasse

The sight of 2,800 bicyclists strolling around Bowling Green may have caught the eye of many students yesterday.

The directors of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure have gathered riding enthusiasts to partake in a tour of Northwest Ohio for the 21st year. The adventure was made for people to enjoy the scenic atmosphere of Ohio’s small towns.

‘It’s a very inexpensive vacation,’ said GOBA Director Julie Van Winkle, who has been planning this annual event since 1998. ‘There’s a spirit of camaraderie and it’s very family-oriented. Adults and children alike can see the beauty of the small towns in Ohio.’

The organization’s goal is to allow riders to celebrate the beautiful back roads and to have fun while camping in just a few of Ohio’s towns, Van Winkle said.

The bicyclists got together for the huge kickoff and some opening ceremonies in Norwalk on Saturday. From there, the group departed from Elmore, Ohio and traveled about 50 miles per day on the weeklong tour.

The tour ends this upcoming weekend when the bikers return to Norwalk after stopping in Bowling Green, Defiance and Fostoria. Van Winkle said they planned on taking long routes throughout the towns in order to see the different beauties of the state.

The projected 3,000 people made their pit stop and camped overnight in Bowling Green yesterday. Like every other town the bikers are staying in, Bowling Green provided entertainment for their stay.

Beth Vollmar, a GOBA entertainment chairperson, planned different events for the bikers during their stay in town.

All of the riders stayed at the Wood County Fairgrounds on Poe Road. There, bikers were able to set up camp while enjoying the music of the band Phranman Duo, or an hour-long yoga session.

At City Park, riders were able to enjoy the band The Dan ‘amp; Don Show, who set up at Needle Hall. The unicyclist group known as Wood One Wheelers also performed at the park.

The Cla-Zel theater also provided food for sale and played the Tour de France from prior years on the screen. Music by Tony Pako was provided later that evening. Pako’s music, along with the other bands featured during Tuesday’s festivities, have a certain fun, summer feel to them, Vollmar said.

‘I figure … that kind of music will be the perfect backdrop to getting cleaned up, setting up camp, and settling in to hang out in BG,’ Vollmar said.

According to Vollmar, the residents of Bowling Green were encouraged to participate in the events that took place during the riders’ stay.

There was an ‘Out and About BG Tour’ that took visitors to Bowling Green’s major historic sites: the wind farm, the Wood County Historical Center and Museum and Snook’s Dream Cars Automobile Museum. A shuttle service was provided to take the bikers to various Bowling Green attractions.

But for all of the fun planned for the tour, the safety of the riders was also a priority of Van Winkle’s. She enlisted help from the Wood County Amateur Radio Emergency Services to keep a watchful eye on the riders and make sure they stayed safe while riding.

The organization offers communication support, radio operators and a connection to Sky One Storm Information.

The radio contact, according to Bob Schuman, who has been with the volunteer-based organization for 20 years, is used for riders who need emergency attention in cases of injury or exhaustion. He also said there were a few riders who are a part of the radio organization. That way, the Red Cross, sheriffs and any other emergency workers could be contacted immediately if an emergency situation or dangerous weather arose.

‘So many people think cell phones are the best way to communicate, and they definitely are a blessing.’ Van Winkle said. ‘But for places without coverage, the radio helps a lot by keeping an eye on things.’