WHEELING – The 15th annual Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour is slated for May 30 at Heritage Port.
The family-friendly event offers a variety of bike tours depending on how challenging a ride one wants to take. The 100 kilometer race, which is about 62 miles, begins at 8 a.m. and takes riders through the downtown, Elm Grove, Warwood, Brooke County, to the Pennsylvania state line and back again to Heritage Port.
A shorter 30-mile ride begins at 8:45 a.m. And the 10-mile ride, good for beginners, begins at 9 a.m. and stays on the trail.
Participants in all the tours are treated to lunch and there are snack and drink stations along the way. There will also be live entertainment in the grassy area beside WesBanco Arena.
Those who pre-register by May 29 pay a reduced entry fee: $30 for adults, $75 for families and $10 for children. Those who pre-register also receive a T-shirt.
The entry fee for adults the day of the event is $45. T-shirts will also be available to purchase the day of the event.
Brochures/registration forms are available at the Wellness Center, YMCA, Ryan Ferns Healthplex in Benwood, Quick Service bicycle shop in Bridgeport and Wheelcraft Bicycles in Elm Grove. People can also register online at www.ohiovalleytrailpartners.org.
Doug Wayt, tour director, said what makes the tour extra special is that it is also a fundraiser. Money raised from the event goes right back into helping maintain the trail and adding amenities. The money has helped make pothole repairs, paint lines and even buy bike repair stations for the trail. He estimates the tour has raised between $40,000 and $50,000 since its inception.
In addition to it being a fundraiser, the ride is also just fun.
“A number of people from out of town say it’s one of the best rides they’ve been involved with. They like the fact that it’s not a race. You get to see a lot of history along the way and very great scenery like the Ohio River area and the city area. And we get to meet a lot of people coming from a lot of places,” Wayt said.
Wayt added there are many volunteers who make the tour possible, in addition to donors big and small who provide door prizes, food, water and more.
The tour’s major sponsors are the Ohio Valley Trail Partners, Wheeling Heritage, McCamic Law Firm and the Ohio County Commission.
The Wheeling Fire Department provides a paramedic for the event and annually the Wheeling Police Department has provided escorts and road guards for the riders.
Wayt noted all participants must wear a helmet. The entire event ends by 2 p.m.
Many of the tour’s participants, he said, are those who participated in the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend, which includes the Ogden Newspapers Half-Marathon Classic on May 28 and the Tough As Nails Urban Challenge on May 29.