THORNVILLE — Saturday, Aug. 24, was the day for the Tour de Buckeye Lake cycling event where hundreds of people participated in the fundraiser. This year, to date, was the largest cycling event held at Buckeye Lake garnering in more than 500 cyclists.
“Tour de Buckeye Lake is not just about a fundraiser for Bike Buckeye Lake,” Event Visionary and Planning Co-Chair Bill Collinson told The Perry County Tribune. “It’s about bringing the idea that the lake is back to the community, and getting people to come out and visit the lake.”
With the Tour de Buckeye Lake Planning Committee already looking towards next year’s cycling event, it can rest easy knowing that, this year, the event doubled its attendance from last year. This year marks the third year Bike Buckeye Lake has hosted the event. In year’s past, the cycling event has garnered around 200 attendees. With the record number of attendees, Collinson and the non-profit hope to increase the numbers for next year.
“We’re pretty psyched about the whole situation,” Collinson proclaimed. “This is the first year where we got most of our riders from the Columbus area. That’s a bigger biking community so that means we have room to grow.”
Cyclists were required to pay an entry fee prior to Aug. 24. The fundraiser tallied up a gross collection of roughly $17,000 from the event. Pre-planning the event included costs that will lower the total collection from the event. Costs included beverages and snacks, insurance and law enforcement.
One aspect of the cycling event this year was the introduction of a pontoon water taxi. This type of boat allowed cyclists to travel across the lake in order to get to the next location of the trail. The water taxi provided safe passage from the North Shore and Papa Boo’s to the Buckeye Lake Winery. Roughly 40 riders utilized the water taxi and Collinson added that the event will hopefully bring it back for next year’s fundraiser.
“I think it’s something that is going to grow in the future,” he said.
All of the proceeds made during the Tour de Buckeye Lake benefited the Bike Buckeye Lake organization. The non-profit’s main goal is to advocate for the preservation and development of the multi-purpose trail system all around Buckeye lake.
The Tour de Buckeye Lake cycling event gave cyclists the choice of biking on one of three routes including a 45 mile, 26 mile or an eight mile option. Participants also received discounts to local establishments. There was also a post cycling party held at the Buckeye Lake Winery and featured live music. There was also a post-post-cycling party held at the Buckeye Cantina in Fairfield Beach.
The Tour de Buckeye Lake also showcased the addition of a new trail along the new Buckeye lake Dam. The 4.1 mile was added the 45 mile and 26 mile rides.
“The views are incredible,” Collinson commented.
Collinson stated that another reason for the large increase of attendees partially had to do with a partnership with Dawes Arboretum. Roughly 180 cyclists traveled to the arboretum, which was a part of the 45 mile trail.
The non-profit organization started in 2015 with its main goal of creating a multi-purpose trail system around Buckeye Lake as well as surrounding counties including Perry, Licking and Fairfield. Around the time of its formation, the dam was considered a “problem,” according to Collinson, and the lake was lowered.
“We looked at that as a possibility to approach Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and work with them to get a multi-purpose path put on the lake,” Collinson stated.
All donations and proceeds of Bike Buckeye Lake go towards future development of trails as well as preservation of one already existing. These include grant applications, land leases and acquisitions, engineers and consultants, safety, publicity and gathering support. The non-profit has a five-year plan to address the want for more paths around the lake.
“The reason our organization exists is to develop multi-purpose paths around the lake and to connect the lake to other regions,” Collinson said.
To help with the mission, the non-profit organization hosts a bike drive to give underprivileged youth, within the Tri-county area, bicycles. Through its support through donors, as of 2019, Bike Buckeye Lake has provided over 400 bicycles to children who are economically disadvantaged.