SHAWNEE FOREST — The Inaugural Portsmouth Connex WILD ride led up to its name and it was certainly wild.
The Connex team spent both Thursday and Friday evenings in the forest marking the routes and highlighting rough spots in the road that might offer riders a problem. By late Friday night, the group was ready for launch Saturday morning. But Mother Nature had other plans as Friday night’s storms left the forest road littered with debris and several downed trees.
Riders launched just one hour after the planned 8 a.m. start. Although only about half of the 70 registered riders braved the rain and weather, all those who did, returned with a smile on their face. Finishers were presented with an edible medal and a pub glass with a voucher from the Portsmouth Brewing Company.
Wendi Waugh of the Connex and SOMC Cancer Center said the first cyclist to finish the ride was Portsmouth resident Greg Crandall. He told them that he was heading to Tennessee but no way was he going to miss the ride. He began the ride at 5:15 a.m. with nothing but his bike headlight and he was the first to see the damage that was on the trail. When Crandall found a place he could get a signal, he alerted Connex of the problems on the route where the trees and debris covered the trail.
Waugh said because he did that, she was able to contact some people that would have chain saws. The Portsmouth Connex volunteers responded quickly in the rain and weather. Kevin Bradbury and Andy Cole arrived with chain saws and reinforcements cleared the trees and debris from the road.
There were at least four areas along the course that were completely blocked on the trail. While the men would be sawing, the volunteers and others would clear up the pieces that were being cut off. There was one tree that could not be cleared and it was there that the riders had to push their bikes under and then themselves too.
Waugh shared of the 70 people that registered, around 35 still showed up with the bad weather and all, and that a few people showed up on that day and registered then rode.
“We were certainly proud of the people who showed up like all the volunteers and others who came to help, along with the riders,” Waugh said.
She explained even a couple of cyclists helped with the clearing and then rode the course afterward. She said it rained from the start at 9 a.m. until about 11 a.m. and then it cleared up also some of these cyclists signed up for the longer trails, which took quite a bit of time. By the time it was all said and done, Waugh said they were all tired but that it was worth it and that they plan on making this an annual event, hopefully with better weather.
Portsmouth Connex would like to thank Toni Dengel Photography, the Portsmouth Brewing Company, the Shawnee State Forest and Park, the road crews who swept the roads in advance, along with the volunteers who helped both before, during and after the event.
Portsmouth Connex hosts many free opportunities for the community to hike, bike or kayak. For more information about the group, request to join the Portsmouth Connex Group on Facebook or visit www.connexmoves.org
Every second and fourth Tuesday Portsmouth Connex hosts a Cruiser Ride at 6 p.m. in Mound Park. The group will also host another Safety Town for youth with TOSRV September 25, 2021.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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