SIDNEY — The heatwave ebbed away over the weekend, just in time for cyclists to ride into Sidney for the Great Ohio Bicycling Adventure.
“When you talk to the riders, they are just all excited and tickled to be back. Everybody’s really excited, and we’re concentrated on providing a good experience for the riders that show,” GOBA Chairman Jeff Stephens said. “The host towns are just fantastic and they’ve put together a great set of activities and attractions, and local volunteer groups and small organizations are coming forward. All the surrounding small towns we go through are hosting lunch stops, so everybody is just back to normal and excited to have our riders here, and our riders are excited to have a more normal experience.”
Just over 800 riders registered for the 2022 GOBA, which is on the lower end of the spectrum, but something that Stephens said was anticipated this year as GOBA returns back to its “normal” post-pandemic form. Roughly 350 riders held their deferrment from the canceled 2020 GOBA and didn’t redeem that deferrment for this years’ tour for a variety of reasons — the anticipated heat in the coming week and illness being two of them. Stephens said that those riders returning would have put them at their normal numbers of around 1,200 riders.
“That’s an indication that there’s still a good bit of caution. We’ve seen that with some other peer-type events around the country over the last two months. People are not coming out full blown yet for these things, but we’re happy. Eight hundred is still a big number,” Stephens said.
Two of those 800 participants — Ed Holden and Marilyn Moor — arrived right when check-in opened and got to work setting up their campsite for the weekend, after Moor chatted with a rider she met in a previous GOBA tour. Moor found a love for cycling and cycling tours after years of running marathons, and participates in the all over the country. The 2022 GOBA is her eighth year participating in the race; one of her favorite parts of GOBA is getting to ride through smaller communities and take in the farms of the countryside, but the best part is getting to reconnect with friends and make new ones.
“You see faces you recognize and know from all different rides and all different states,” Moor said. “I’m a country person, and the openness of the country — there’s loads of farms.”
Moor is familiar with the Shelby County area, having moved to Indiana from Florida recently and having friends in New Bremen. Before GOBA kicked off, she did a 50 mile ride the previous weekend, going through Piqua, Urbana and Xenia. Holden is a friend of Moor’s who is new to GOBA and came into Sidney from Tampa, Florida.
“I enjoy tours, and Marilyn is a friend of mine. I live in Tampa and I’m headed to Rhode Island, so I was like, okay, I’m gonna go up this far, do a tour, and then head to Rhode Island,” Holden said. “I’m doing another tour in New York later on in July. I enjoy doing them, they’re a lot of fun.”
In working to set up his tent for the weekend, he found that it didn’t come with stakes — and fortunately for Holden, he can always count on Moor to bring extra supplies.
“She prepared and has everything nice, nice, nice right there. She brought two hammers,” Holden said. “Guess how many I brought?”
With no hammer in tow to anchor stakes into the ground, Moore lends Holden one of hers with her stakes and they get to work setting up their tents. As he holds up part of Moor’s tent so she can get it set properly, Holden talks about how tours and cycling have helped improve his health and, more importantly, helped him meet people he may not have otherwise crossed paths with.
“Everyone says that’s healthy, that’s healthy — that’s a side benefit. It is healthy for you, but all the social life — the friends and groups and, ‘oh, what are we going to do on Wednesday? What are we going to do on Friday?’ It’s really cool,” Holden said. “We could be at a mall or something like that, and we’d never talk like this. It’s pretty cool.”
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