Just like riding a bike

Tour de Dayton rolls into town

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: The annual Tour de Dayton will begin at 9 a.m. on Aug. 16; photo: Tanisha Walugembe

Would you like to start riding your bike more, but don’t know exactly how to begin? Do you want to get your family out from behind all those glowing screens they constantly stare into? Would you like to learn more about this wonderfully rich city we all call home?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then there’s no better place for you to be this Saturday than riding in the Tour de Dayton. “The Tour de Dayton is a free, family-friendly, fun cycling event we coordinate every year,” Rachel Barnett, one of the Tour de Dayton’s organizers, said.

“The idea or goal of the event is to get people off their couches and out riding their bikes. We feel like biking is one of those kinds of things anyone can do, so what we try to do is kind of target it to people who don’t normally cycle, or maybe people who aren’t necessarily active in their daily lives. We try to create a route every year that includes a variety of local businesses, cultural or historical points of interest, recreation, historic buildings. And that’s kind of the point of it: To get people riding the route on their bikes, but also out in the community, enjoying what Dayton has to offer.”

The 2014 Tour de Dayton will be the fourth such event for Barnett and co-organizers. Each year, the Tour brings in about 150 participants of all ages to ride the route. In the past, the 10-mile route has stopped at such locations as the Dayton Police Academy, Edgemont Solar Garden, The Life Enrichment Center and 2nd Street Market.

“This year, we will be stopping at the Dayton Fire Training Center, which is off of Springfield Street,” Barnett said. “It’s where the City of Dayton fire and rescue staff does a lot of their practice. We have the Life Enrichment Center, Dayton Access Television, Southwest Ohio Recreation and Defense (S.W.O.R.D.) over on Leo Street, Charlie’s Deli, E.C. Doren Library, which is in a City of Dayton building that used to be an old firehouse, Wright-Patt Air Force Museum [and] Miami Valley Child Development Center.”

The Tour de Dayton will also coincide with the Hispanic Heritage Festival at Riverscape MetroPark, and Family Day at Wright-Patt Air Force Museum.

“This year, we’re focusing our time in northeast Dayton and southeast Dayton,” Barnett explained. “This route is actually bigger than they have been in the past. In the past, we’ve tried to keep it at around 10 miles. Each year we get feedback from our participants, and since some people are more active than others, they want a bigger route. So, this year we did two possible paths. It’s kind of like a loop, where you can ride a 10-mile ride, just like in the past, and then there’s a 10-mile extension out to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum. So, for people who want that long bike ride, it can be up to 20 miles, but the 10-mile route is pretty much the same length as it has been in the past.”

The ride is definitely friendly for families with little ones, and for people who aren’t comfortable riding in traffic.

“This year, there will be some riding on main roads, but in general we target having our routes on neighborhood roads, so there’s less traffic. We try to minimize the number of turns. We use Neighborhood Assistance Officers when we have intersections that are higher in traffic, or places that we have concerns, to direct traffic. We are using the rec trails, as well, which is always a great ride. One of our goals is to mix recreational riding with urban cycling, because I think a lot of people are comfortable with the rec trails, but maybe not with urban cycling – riding in the street. So, we kind of make it an event where people can ride in a group and not feel insecure or unsafe while they’re doing it.”

If the idea of getting out there, pumping your legs and filling your lungs with fresh air, while enjoying some of Dayton’s best kept secrets isn’t enough to get you out to the Tour de Dayton, consider the free stuff.

“One of the things I think people are always blown away with is it’s a free ride, but we also work with the community and we have a lot of free giveaways,” Barnett said.

“Often, we give riders an experience, a learning experience. All those people who say ‘There’s nothing to do in Dayton,’ well, ya know what? We’re here to tell you there’s plenty to do in Dayton, you just need to know where it’s at! I just think Dayton has lot to offer and there’s a lot of community here. A lot of people are trying to do really interesting things. I think there’s a lot if you start to look.”

The Tour de Dayton will take place on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. The event is free. Riders should report to Washington Park, at Woodley Road and North Wright Street, from 9–11 a.m. to register in person. For more information, or to register online, please visit tourdedayton.wordpress.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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