Cyclists can check out areas of Gahanna they normally don't see during a "Pedal and Smile" bike-ride series.

The first ride in the series starts at 1 p.m. April 23, departing from the parking lot at Premier Periodontics, 1329 Cherry Way Drive.

The event is sponsored by Premier Periodontics and the Gahanna Bicycle & Trail Advisory Committee. Coordinator Tricia Kovacs said the rides will take place the fourth Sunday of every month through October at the same place and time.

The ride is free of charge, with Dr. Rupa Hamal of Premier providing snacks. Free helmets are available to children while supplies last.

Kovacs, a certified bicycle safety instructor, said the purpose of the series is to have fun, promote good health and explore local neighborhoods and history.

The first ride will show cyclists a safe way to travel to New Albany, north of Morse Road, and how to get to New Albany bike trails.

During the series, she said, riders will explore some of the hidden places in Gahanna that are easy to access by bicycle, especially along Big Walnut Creek.

On July 23, cyclists can participate in a Gahanna History Tour as they visit some historical sites and learn about the city's founders.

Cyclist Mary Hiland said she and her friend, Dan Stanton, rode her tandem bike on last year's history tour.

"It was a small group, only about a dozen riders, but that made it easy to keep together and meet other cyclists as we rode from point to point," she said. "We stopped at several points of interest that I had never known about, even though I've lived in Gahanna since 1971."

Hiland said the ride was about 10 miles long, with many stops, so it was perfect for beginner group riders.

"At the start of the ride, Tricia reviewed some important rules of group riding and gave us an overview of the sights we'd be passing or stopping to explore, such as the historic log cabin. ... It (was) a great way to learn about our town."

Kovacs said youngsters also will learn about bicycle safety.

"I've noticed there seems to be more kids biking in Gahanna," she said. "I think that's a good sign. We'll ride on the Big Walnut Trail. We'll have a destination -- a park, store or ice cream shop."

She said all the rides would be recreational, showing riders how to get from one place to another in addition to the history ride.

"We'll show the bike trails and connectors in Gahanna," Kovacs said. "We'll try to go to different destinations on low traffic bike routes of Gahanna."

She said cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome.

The ride distance will be about 10 miles at a comfortable pace with shortcuts and extra loops for cyclists who prefer fewer or more miles.

Children age 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Those age 15-17 must have a parent or guardian available to sign a permission release.

"We've been doing informal bike rides and want to make it a regular ride," Kovacs said. "We'll try monthly rides to see if we get more participants."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla