Imagine getting up early, putting on comfortable, well-fit clothing, and jumping on a bicycle for over six hours. You ride and ride through highways and back-roads. Lunchtime passes, but you ride on. Your legs resist the hills, but you keep riding. Several times you ask yourself why you decided to put yourself through this, but, soon enough, you remember why. You finally cross a colorful finish line with smiling faces, cheers for your accomplishment and a day-long celebration. That is what 435 riders experienced over the weekend, during The Annual Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), which landed in Portsmouth Saturday morning with bicyclists pedaling in from Brew Dog in Winchester.
The 88-mile journey had the cyclists testing their abilities to succeed in the ride, but the impressive finish line CONNEX installed welcomed them soon enough to the sight of towers, banners, music, and a lot of noisemakers.
Once a rider landed in Portsmouth, they were welcomed and given the opportunity to visit a food truck or drink stand, had a concert to watch, a vintage bike show to check out, and more, before unpacking in the Portsmouth High School Gymnasium for the night. Once, Sunday morning dawned, they packed up and rode back to Columbus.
Part of Portsmouth being the landing point of TOSRV is that Portsmouth CONNEX, a local non-profit dedicated to active lifestyle advocating through activities such as bicycling, hiking, kayaking, and more, organizes the Portsmouth side of TOSRV, which, in recent years, has massively grown in effort.
The group had cheerleaders onsite, ready for the first rider, all armed with noisemakers.
“Portsmouth really brought the party and participation was definitely up this year,” CONNEX’s Wendi Waugh told The Times. “The smiles at the finish line were amazing.”
Waugh said the first rider to cross the finish line was Portsmouth native Chris Bihl.
“I thought that was super cool for him to be the first one to arrive. He left sometime before 6 a.m., while it was still dark,” Waugh said. “Since he was the first rider, he definitely received a huge welcome, but, once we realized it was a local guy, it was even more special.”
The bicycle show went over well, with 16 entries.
Waugh told many heartfelt stories involving late relatives and legacy riders, new inspiration and interest, and more.
“Ralph Imes saw the newspaper article and showed up. He has been collecting bicycles his whole life and he showed up with five and spent time talking about how he got the bikes, why he loves them, and just opened up about his collection. When we ended, he was excited, and he promised to bring twice as many next year. It was a neat way to connect with Portsmouth people while there were riders coming to town,” Waugh claimed. “It was also emotional, because Jennifer Schackart was there. Her dad used to collect bikes, but he has since passed away. She was able to bring four of his and we were able to show them off with previous TOSRV pins. It was super cool. Glockner also brought their big unicycle-style bike and that was really interesting, because the Glockner Family got their start in bikes.”
There were riders of all sort and Wendi was there to meet as many as possible.
One rider was from Canada, who is actively riding cross country, from north to south. His parents were with him and his father made the trip halfway by bike and his mother was one of the last riders to cross the mark.
“It was another neat case of family— mother, father, and son— all giving TOSRV their all,” Waugh explained of the group. “Then, there was a whole family of grandchildren where they were all on a quad bike for four. Their grandfather rode on his own bike beside them. It was cool to have them.”
One rider was celebrating his 50th ride, and, when asked if this was it for him, he asked, “Why?”
Finally, Waugh remarked one final couple, who drove to Columbus from Iowa. The couple had learned of TOSRV through local Toni Dengel’s photojournalism that appeared in Bicycle Magazine.
“The article was several months ago, and it was about great bicycling events throughout the country,” Waugh explained. “Anyway, I was speaking with this one couple, and, when asked about where they were from, they said Iowa. They had read about TOSRV in the magazine and drove 11 hours.”
The TOSRV Planning Committee made Portsmouth’s events possible. The committee included Wendi Waugh, Rachael Gray of River City Adventure Company, Robert Black of Final Friday, Logan Minter, Theresa Hicks, and Toni Dengel.
“Honestly, I think we killed it. Everything came together from the finish line to the noisemakers, to the Cirque d’Art performers, to the music, to the vintage bikes,” Waugh said. “It was just awesome.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved