Connex’s Wild Ride now accepting cyclists


After a year of training, Portsmouth’s Connex is ready to bring back the Wild Ride in Shawnee State Park, with registration now open.

The Wild Ride is in its third year and Connex’s Wendi Waugh says that the event has been popular so far.

“We doubled in size between years one and two and we are really hoping to continue the growth of the ride,” Waugh said. “This year is a lot different, in terms of it being the first year of us offering commemorative t-shirts and jerseys, and we’ve added the Cottontail route.”

Waugh explained that each route is named in dedication of Shawnee State Park and organizing the event has been a fun ride so far.

“All of the names of our routes are related to the nature and wildlife found in the forest and we are proud that we’ve added a family friendly one,” Waugh claimed. “It’ll still be a challenge, because anything in the forest is a challenge, but it is nice being able to offer an easier route. We’ve just been expanding every year, getting better every year.”

One unique feature of the ride is that the medals given to riders, which are edible.

“Depending on which route you do, you get a cookie for that route,” Waugh said. “So, you get to eat your prize. You’ll also get your commemorative mug to fill up with your favorite drink from the Portsmouth Brewing Company.”

Waugh enjoys preparing for this event and planning new routes. She says that the event is guaranteed to have bikers interacting with each other as they all pedal their ways through their challenge. One reason she has so much love for the event is because of the location.

“In my mind, it is like the Shawnee forest is Scioto County’s version of own dedicated bike trail. There is minimal traffic, and, not only that, but you’re rolling through the forest. There are hills and trees and an atmosphere you can’t beat,” Waugh explained. “The other thing that is super cool, in the way that we’ve done the routes— whether you’re a Rattlesnake or Bear Cub or Bobcat Rider— you’re going to see other riders. You’ll pass them and they’ll be coming in different direction. It is just nice being able to see everybody enjoying their rides.”

The routes are a challenge, however, and Waugh says that it is a good idea to train for the moment. That aspect is another reason why she enjoys the event.

“This ride is a reason for people to train,” Waugh said. “We want to inspire people to move outdoors, and this event accomplishes that, because it gives them that incentive to train and prepare.”

Connex operates on two major missions: getting people outdoors and moving in a way that invokes community, but, also, something that some people may not expect. However, they excel at their mission of accomplishing both.

“We’re all about moving outdoors, but we are also about tourism and bringing people to this area,” Waugh said. “This event really relates to that mission, because it exposes people to Ohio’s largest and hilliest state park and we then encourage those people into town by giving them their mugs to fill at the brew pub, because want them to see Portsmouth as well.”

The event is the sole fundraiser for the organization and their largest event, with six optional routes available.

“This is the only event we charge for. We work so hard on it and spend a lot of time and effort making it the best event it can be. We arrange the mugs, the edible medals, map the trails, order jerseys; it is a big deal for us,” Waugh said. “It is absolutely my favorite event, though, and I will be riding. I rode the Rattlesnake last year and will do so again this year. I love the energy and the training and the forest. It is just a wonderful experience.”

Two of the routes are gravel, including the 34.1 mile Hawk path and the 62.8 mile Storm path. Four of the paths are paved, including the 9.2 mile Cottontail, the 16.5 mile Bear Cub, 30.2 mile Bobcat, and the 60.4 mile Rattler.

Registration before June 2 ranges from $25-$45, with prices rising after the June date. Admission to the event includes a commemorative shirt with artistic fashion choices, a mug that can be filled at Portsmouth Brewing Company, and more.

The option to purchase a commemorative jersey is also available for $70 until May 15.

Register for the Wild Ride online at

The event is scheduled for June 17, 8 a.m.

“Anyone can participate in The Wild Ride,” Waugh claimed. “Now, this is not for a five-year-old, but we are encouraging families to get out. I’d say children ages 10 and up, with an adult, can get through the event. It is going to be challenging, however; this is not a bike ride along the street. Even the Cottontail has a hill to pedal up and down and then back, but we do have some food to help you get back through and over. Cottontail is our shortest ride, but it is still a challenge; it isn’t a ride in the park. It is still a great time, though.”

The Wild Ride event is only one of dozens of events offered throughout the year by the organization to get people active in the community through bicycling, paddling, walking, hiking, and more. In the coming months, they have many events scheduled, weekly Tour de Portsmouth rides, the full moon kayak floats, and more. Follow them on Facebook for more information about their events.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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