As Pelotonia rolls into its 10th ride, one aspect of the Columbus-based charity bicycle tour hasn't changed.
The number of riders has increased significantly since Pelotonia was founded in 2008 and its first ride was held in 2009, but the collective passion and commitment they bring have not diminished, said Miguel Perez, Pelotonia's chief operating officer.
"It just never wavers," he said.
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Pelotonia's purpose is to raise money for local cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
The annual August opening ceremony and bike ride, which this year is Friday, Aug. 3, to Sunday, Aug. 5, includes 10 one- or two-day route options of varying mileage for which cyclists commit to raising corresponding amounts of money. Pelotonia has raised more than $157 million since that first ride in 2009, Perez said.
Over the years, Pelotonia has transformed from a bike ride to a movement, said Pelotonia CEO Doug Ulman.
Community members have become active beyond the three-day event, Ulman said, through year-round physical activity and fundraising, as well as community-building within pelotons, the term used for Pelotonia's fundraising teams that generally is defined as the primary group of cyclists in a race. Pelotons are organized by businesses, communities, academic or social organizations or simply like-minded individuals. (Editor's note: The Dispatch Media Group Peloton includes ThisWeek Community News and The Columbus Dispatch staff members who oversee the publications in which this story appears.)
For those committed to the cause, Pelotonia has become a lifestyle, he said.
Pelotonia's first tour in 2009 included 2,265 riders, Ulman said.
Last year, the event exceeded 8,000 riders for the first time, and as of July 20, almost 8,300 riders and more than 300 pelotons were registered to participate in Pelotonia activities, Perez said. Organizers estimated as many as 300 more riders might register during the weeks between, he said.
"The growth has been monumental," Ulman said.
And the riders aren't the only participants.
About 2,800 "virtual riders" -- people who sign up to raise a minimum of $100 but don't ride in the tour -- are registered, Perez said, and more than 3,000 volunteers will help with the event.
As the years and riders have added up, so has the funding for cancer research.
For 2018, participants have raised more than $10.5 million for cancer research as of July 25, according to pelotonia.org. The 2018 totals will add to the $157 million from the past decade, Perez said.
The fundraising deadline for participants is Oct. 5, Ulman said.
Pelotonia leaders have set a goal of $27 million to $30 million this year, he said. By the end of the Pelotonia weekend, participants likely will have raised 50 percent or 60 percent of that, with the remainder coming between August and October.
A few months ago, Pelotonia added another fundraising source: Pulll, a free activity-tracking app that allows anyone in the U.S. to unlock sponsor-donated money for cancer research at Ohio State simply by activating the app on a smartphone while cycling, running or walking.
The app was launched in early May, and it has about 8,500 users to date, Perez said.
Users have generated about $135,000 thus far from public and private reserves donated by corporations and organizations and from a peer-to-peer boosting capability, in which people share activity on the app to solicit "microdonations" from friends and family, he said.
"We're really excited about what it's doing," he said.
Pulll can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.
It tracks two metrics, said Wes Sims, head of product at Pelotonia. If a user selects an outdoor activity, fundraising is based on miles completed; for an indoor activity, fundraising is based on minutes, he said.
The sponsor donations are unlocked based on an exchange rate -- for example, the outdoor cycling rate is 6 cents per mile -- set by Pelotonia, Sims said.
Money raised and unlocked through Pulll will count toward a rider's Pelotonia fundraising, Perez said. About half of Pulll's users are Pelotonia riders, he said.
People who have downloaded the app are from 46 states and 19 countries, he said, and about 70 percent are active users, Perez said.
"There's a very engaged community," he said.
Pelotonia leaders are learning a lot about the app, and wanted to see how it works before intentionally trying to market it nationally, Perez said.
"We're feeling very optimistic with what we're learning and what we're seeing," he said.
Pelotonia's opening ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at McFerson Commons Park, 218 West St., and North Bank Park, 311 W. Long St. Both parks are south of Nationwide Boulevard in downtown Columbus' Arena District.
The event includes rider check-ins, a dinner buffet and the opening-ceremony program, which will begin at 7:15 p.m.
Registration for the ride will close Aug. 3.
Riders can choose from 10 routes ranging from 25 miles to 200 miles. Pelotonia is a supported ride, so several rest stops are included on the routes.
Nine of the routes will begin Aug. 4, and riders for five of them -- the 25-, 45-, 100-, 180- and 200-mile options -- will depart throughout the morning from McFerson Commons. Riders will proceed southeast on various city streets, turn east on Bixby Road toward Pickerington and then head north to New Albany. Riders on the longer routes will go east to Granville and then north toward Gambier.
Riders on the 55- and 135-mile routes will depart from Bob Evans Headquarters, 8111 Smith's Mill Road in New Albany, and the 75- and 155-mile riders will depart from Pickerington High School North, 7800 Refugee Road.
The one-day riders will finish at Pickerington High School North (25 miles), Bevelhymer Park, 7860 Bevelhymer Road in New Albany (45 miles), and Kenyon College, 221 Duff St. in Gambier (55, 75 and 100 miles).
On Aug. 5, a 35-mile route will begin at Denison University, 100 W. College St. in Granville, and the second day of the 135-, 155-, 180- and 200-mile routes will begin at Kenyon College. Those routes will conclude at New Albany's Market Square.
Motorists in downtown and southeast Columbus, southeast Franklin County, western Licking County and southwest Knox County -- and all communities in between -- should be on the lookout for riders most of Aug. 4. The Aug. 5 routes mostly will be in western Licking County and southwest Knox County.
Delays throughout the affected areas of central Ohio are possible because local police agencies will exercise traffic-control procedures at most major intersections.
For more information on the ride or the routes, go to pelotonia.org.