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Hope residents will roll out the red carpet for 2,000 or more cyclists from at least eight states for Saturday’s 26th annual Hope Ride.
That’s a lot of welcoming for this northeastern Bartholomew County town, which has a population about equal to its expected guests at 2,147.
Riders have their choice of routes from 13 to 100 miles.
The long ride will wind over scenic, farmland roads to Anderson Falls, past Simmons Winery and back to Hauser High School, which is also where it starts.
26th Annual Hope Ride
WHEN: Ride begins at 9 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Hauser High School, 9273 N. State Road 9, Hope
REGISTRATION AND FINAL SIGNUP: 7:30 to 9 a.m. Saturday at Hauser
COST: $30 online until Friday afternoon at hoperide.org and $40 Saturday
ROUTES: Vary from 13 to 100 miles
ACTIVITIES, ENTERTAINMENT: Live music, food, wine tasting at Simmons Winery, lunch on the town square.
The shortest course will enable a more leisurely ride that includes stops for live music, snacks and root beer floats.
Whatever the rider’s preference, the day is meant to provide a chance for exercise, fun and to support food banks and area youth outreach programs.
Hope Ride started out as a fundraiser for the Hope Food Bank, which it continues to support. But as the number of cyclists, donations and supporters grew over the years, organizers had enough money to support other causes.
Relay for Life, Dollars for Scholars, Hope Summer Playground and boys and girls baseball and softball teams are some of the organizations that continue to benefit.
Since its inception, Hope Ride has donated $375,000 to various charities. A Hope Area Food Bank Endowment Fund also has been established.
“It’s kind of amazing that we’re in our 26th year, and we keep growing,” said organizer Paul Ashbrook, a teacher at Shelbyville Middle School.
Ashbrook, whose wife, Carol, and two teenage daughters also volunteer with the event, said the ride has been successful for many reasons. These include the hospitality shown by the community, the support of more than 200 volunteers each year and by changing the courses to keep it fresh for riders who return annually.
Last year was a record turnout for the event with 2,300 riders, including some who arrive early and camp at Hauser overnight.
One way organizers have tried to boost the number of riders and the donations to food banks is to encourage friendly competition. Riders on the largest team can take home $2,000 to a food bank of their choice. Last year, this prize went to a group of Ohio cyclists who picked a food bank in Cincinnati.
Other awards for food banks are $500 for the second- and third-largest teams, and any team with at least 20 members can earn $200 for a food bank of their choice.
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