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 riders, 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.