BY ZACH SPICER | For The Republic
The Brownstown Exchange Club Round Barn Bike Ride takes riders on a scenic journey through western Jackson County.
Two round barns and the nation’s longest historic covered bridge near Medora and Starve Hollow State Recreation Area near Vallonia are among the sites that can be seen along the route.
For riders who like a challenge, the longer route also goes out to the communities of Kurtz and Norman, where some hilly terrain can be found.
For Saturday’s 26th annual ride, no matter if they choose the 32-, 68- or 80-plus-mile route, participants will have the option to add a couple of miles by going out to the Medora Brick Plant site.
There, the Jackson County Visitor Center will hand out brochures and provide information about the significance of the historic site and plans underway to restore it.
“They have done a lot of work out there, and it will be a good way to highlight that,” Exchange Club member Joe Bradley said.
Another change to this year’s event is it will start and end at Brownstown Central Middle School, 520 W. Walnut St., because of the construction going on at the high school.
Registration will run from 7 to 10 a.m., and riders can start any time after they sign in. Online registration is available at signmeup.com/118728. The cost is $25. T-shirts will be available for $10 the day of the ride.
Bradley said he’s not sure how many riders to expect because people typically wait to sign up after hearing the weather forecast. If the weather is nice, he said the event usually draws more than 100 people.
He said 95 percent of the riders usually come from outside Jackson County. Some even come from other states.
“Everybody loves it,” Bradley said. “Everybody says seeing the round barns and the covered bridge makes it worthwhile. Because we have such nice rolling terrain, people expect it to be flat, but then they get up into the hills.”
SAG stops will be at Starve Hollow, the round barns and Hackman Family Farm Market. Cookies, brownies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from Casey’s Cakes and Classes in Brownstown and water will be available.
Riders are welcome to check out the barns and walk through the covered bridge.
A small part of the ride includes in-town traffic and short distances on state highways. The ride is not recommended for young children on their own bicycles.
The Round Barn Bike Ride started when a couple of Exchange Club members were involved in cycling and thought it would be good to start a local ride. The only year the ride was canceled was 2015, when roads in the Medora area were flooded.
The ride is among several fundraisers the Exchange Club conducts each year. Others include a 5K during Fort Vallonia Days and two pancake breakfasts — one in the spring and one in the fall.
Proceeds are used by the club to distribute to the local organizations it supports.
“All of the money is spent locally and given out to the community,” Bradley said.
What: Brownstown Exchange Club Round Barn Bike Ride (32-, 68- and 80-plus-mile routes)
When: Registration runs from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday; riders can take off any time after registering
Where: Starts and ends at Brownstown Central Middle School, 520 W. Walnut St., Brownstown
Cost: $25; T-shirts will be available the day of the ride for $10
Information: Preregister at signmeup.com/118728; brownstownexchangeclub.org