The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure will be traveling through Portage County on June 21 and 22 during its weeklong rally through Northeast Ohio.
There are nearly 1,100 registered cyclists who will take part by riding as much as 455 miles or as few as 177 miles over four counties.
Outdoor Pursuits, the organization behind the event, has been hosting it since 1989, with the only exception being 2020, because of Covid-19, Outdoor Pursuits President Jerry Rempelt said.
On June 21, while on the way to Kent, riders will stop for lunch at the Church of Aurora parking lot. There, cyclists can purchase food from the Aurora Rotary Club, said member Hanna Cajan.
“(Outdoor Pursuits) approached the chamber, and they wanted to have somebody in town be able to do a fundraiser and provide lunch for all the bicycles that are coming through town,” Cajan said. “So, we got involved, and we’re going to be providing them with lunch.”
The club is expecting to receive the greatest amount of bicycle traffic between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“(The Rotary Club) gathers funds and then distributes them back out, so it’s going to benefit Aurora in many ways,” Cajan said.
The club makes donations to a variety of organizations throughout the community, including scholarships, food pantries and more.
During the cyclists’ time in Portage County, they will camp at Fred Fuller Park in Kent for two nights, where festivities are planned for them downtown.
“We will be out for seven days, and there are four different campsites,” Rempelt said. “There are two campsites, three nights in one, two nights in Kent and the others are just two single nights.”
The cyclists are like a camp that moves around, and there used to be a sign that said GOBA was Ohio’s largest traveling city, Project Director Jeff Stephens said.
During the day of June 22, cyclists can rest or choose between two loops.
“Thursday, June 22, is our century day because one of the options you have that day is to ride 100 miles; you actually go all the way to Alliance,” Rempelt said. “Then, we have other riders who will ride the 50-mile loop and some may just stay in Kent.”
On Friday, June 23, the cyclists will be moving on to their next campsite, which is in Burton in Geauga County.
“They pack up their tents, they pack up their luggage … they throw the bags on a semi and they get on their bikes and ride to the next town,” Rampelt said.
This will be new terrain for returning riders.
“I think our riders are just particularly excited that we’re coming to a part of the state that the tour has never been to and so we are excited to showcase a lot of the unique things that our riders have never seen,” Stephens said.
According to Stephens, the host communities of Kent, Jefferson, Burton and Willoughby are excited and ready to welcome the group of cyclists.
“It’s new territory for us and the communities have just really stepped up and are excited to host us and they’ve done fantastic work to be ready for us,” Stephens said.