May 29, 2003
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Large biking event to pass through portion of village

On Tuesday, June 17, between 1 and 4 p.m., local residents using the bikepath on the south end of town will witness a surprising sight — more than 3,000 men, women and children pedaling up Grinnell Road, then turning left and heading south on the bikepath, past the Riding Centre and on toward Xenia.

The 3,145 cyclists, who will range in age from 2 to 84 and who hail from 44 states along with Australia, Canada and the Virgin Islands, will be taking part in the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA), which organizers describe as “the world’s largest family-oriented bike ride.”

“It’s a good crowd, a good mix of people,” said villager Rod Hoover, who with his wife, Ellen, has taken part in the event five times since it began 15 years ago. “We really enjoyed it.”

For Hardy Ballantine, who participated in GOBA “eight or nine times,” the event was “a good way to get out and see a bit of Ohio that one doesn’t usually go through.”

On June 17 the cyclists will make their way from Troy, where they will spend the night on Monday, to Xenia, where they will stay Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They will bike down Lower Valley Pike south of Springfield, then on to Old Mill Road to Fairfield Road, then Tecumseh Road to Jackson Road. Next they’ll head south on Meredith Road, making a stop at a specially created access point to Young’s Jersey Dairy to sample ice cream, before proceeding down John Bryan Park Road to Grinnell. The route follows Grinnell Road to the bikepath, then turns south, skirting the southern edge of the village.

Organizers prefer to plan routes along little-traveled country roads rather than busy streets or bikepaths, according to Ed Dressler, former director of Greene County Parks and Recreation who is working with GOBA organizers.

The seven-day event, which begins June 14 in Greenville and ends there June 21, will include overnight camping stops at Troy, Xenia, Middletown and Brookville. Riders cover about 50 miles a day, and include both experienced cyclists and beginners. Organized by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits, a nonprofit organization, GOBA is sponsored by Bob Evans Farms.

The 2003 event “will circle Dayton in southwestern Ohio, where the gentle terrain allows for a relaxed pace, and the surrounding communities stand ready to welcome you,” a GOBA brochure states.

But just how ready Yellow Springs needs to be is open to question, since the official GOBA route only slices through a part of Yellow Springs and the village is not part of the event’s scheduled activities. However, some local business people are doing their best to attract GOBA riders to town.

The cyclists will camp Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Xenia and will have Wednesday, June 18, off as a layover day for optional activities, during which they could easily bike back up the bikepath and visit local shops and restaurants. However, the village competes on that day with several GOBA-scheduled day trips, including one to Kings Island, as well as jaunts to Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama and the National Afro-American Museum.

Communities on the official GOBA route benefit financially to the tune of $75,000 to $100,000 in additional business from GOBA participants, according to the event’s director, Julie Van Winkle. When GOBA participants last stopped in Xenia for two nights several years ago, the event produced $300,000 in extra revenue for the town, according to Dressler.

But will GOBA participants find their way to Yellow Springs on Wednesday, or make an unscheduled stop on Tuesday?

“It’s really unfortunate” that the event did not choose to include Yellow Springs in its scheduled activities, said Chamber of Commerce Director Betsy Newman. Regarding whether or not GOBA participants will visit the village on their own, Newman said the chamber is “hopeful but we’re not counting on it.”

However, GOBA participants have received information about Yellow Springs in a GOBA newsletter and signs have been sent to the Chamber of Commerce to direct GOBA riders from the bikepath to downtown Yellow Springs, said GOBA director Julie Van Winkle, who said riders will also get promotional information on the village when they stop in Xenia Tuesday night.

Chamber of Commerce representatives along with employees of the Yellow Springs News will do their best to attract tourists to the village. When GOBA bikers stop at Young’s, they will receive free copies of the Yellow Springs News with special advertising aimed at them, News publisher Karen Gardner said. Newman said that the chamber will provide information about Yellow Springs to event participants.

“Three thousand people will be at the outskirts of town. It’d be a shame not to let them know what’s available,” Gardner said.

Dressler estimated that “some people will wander into the village, maybe 500 or so,” and that many more will get a taste of Yellow Springs, which might motivate them to visit town at a later time.

One thing not in doubt — that the bikepath south of Grinnell Road will be an excellent place for enterprising Yellow Springs children to set up lemonade stands on the afternoon of June 17.

“Residents along the route can also be of help by offering light snacks for sale to the bicyclists as they pass,” GOBA literature says. “The riders are delighted to see this, and will gratefully take a break to buy a snack and take a rest. Good snacks to offer for sale include fresh fruit, watermelon and home-baked cookies. Never have so many willing customers been in the area!”

—Diane Chiddister