30th version of Hope Ride worth trip for cyclists, fans

The Hope Ride is more than just an opportunity for bicycle enthusiasts to tour the Bartholomew County countryside. It’s become an institution — an important event that serves recreation and health purposes but also has an impact on the community.

The 30th annual Hope Ride, this year conducted Sept. 16, is a fundraiser for local food pantries and youth outreach programs. It has attracted more than 40,000 riders and raised more than $500,000 since its inception. Using averages, that’s more than 1,300 riders and $16,600 each year.

This year’s ride drew more than 1,500┬áriders, with participants coming from eight states beyond Indiana: Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan and Iowa. As final proceeds are tallied, the anniversary version of the Hope Ride appears to have raised more than $25,000, event founder Paul Ashbrook said.

Despite the ride’s institutional status, organizers have demonstrated the ability to keep it fresh and to enhance it. This year featured a new twist, a barbecue and blues festival on the Hope Town Square to give riders a fun event at the end of the ride — which could be enjoyed by non-riders, too.

A few hundred non-riders enjoyed the blues and barbecue in addition to the cyclists, Ashbrook estimated.

Ashbrook has created a special, well-run event in Hope community that is popular around Bartholomew and neighboring counties — and Midwestern states. It’s an event cycling enthusiasts look forward to, and its popularity helps bring the spotlight to Hope and highlight its unique features.