The 57th annual Tour of the Scioto River Valley cycling event will begin and end in Canal Winchester this spring, thanks to an offer from the city that organizers couldn't refuse.
"(City development director) Lucas Haire really answered all of our questions and presented a cohesive plan that included the venue, the dining, the volunteers and the community in such a manner it was really hard for us to think about going someplace else," said tour director Lisa Daris of Columbus Outdoor Pursuits.
"We're looking for a home for TOSRV and I think we found it in Canal Winchester," she said.
Haire said bike tour organizers approached the city because there is a connection with bicyclists in Canal Winchester who make the city part of their regular riding routes. He also sees the TOSRV event as a way to "expose Canal Winchester to a whole group of new people from other areas of Ohio and other states."
Haire said he expects hosting the TOSRV will have an impact on economic development in Canal Winchester, which currently has only one hotel, a Best Western, within city limits. Another hotel, the DogHouse, is under construction next to BrewDog's U.S. headquarters on Gender Road.
The TOSRV routes have not been finalized yet, but Daris said more than 1,000 bicyclists are expected to pedal their way to Portsmouth and back, a round trip of more than 200 miles. Participants in past tours have ranged in age from 1 to 81 and have come from all over the country.
"The participants are going to spend a lot of time in and around Canal Winchester the night before the event and then as things wrap up," City Council President Bruce Jarvis said. "This is a big feather in our cap."
This year's event is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. It will begin and end at the Queen of the Line train depot in downtown Canal Winchester. A post-ride celebration will take place nearby at BrewDog's DogTap pub, 96 Gender Road.
Riders are expected to begin arriving in Canal Winchester on the Friday evening before the tour. The city is organizing music in the park and other activities, Daris said.
She believes riders will see why the city is a "hidden gem" with its restaurants, breweries and local shops.
"Canal Winchester had a community feel that we were looking for," Daris said. "Also, many of our weekly rides take place in Canal Winchester. Of course, the terrain is hilly, and riders love that as they're training for this challenging ride. It just felt like a good place for us."
Last year's TOSRV began and ended in Grove City after moving from its traditional Columbus starting and stopping point. The date also was changed from Mother's Day weekend.
New this year is a scholarship fund to help younger riders pay the $85 entry fee.
TOSRV began in 1962 as a father-and-son outing before it "single-handedly raised the profile of the bicycle life in American life and was the inspiration for many of the mass-transportation cycling events so popular today across the country," according to the tour's website.
Online registration opens Jan. 28. A kickoff party is planned from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at Wild Goose Creative, 2491 Summit St., Columbus. Registration for the launch party and additional information about the race are available at outdoor-pursuits.org/tosrv.
"Canal Winchester had a community feel that we were looking for. Also, many of our weekly rides take place in Canal Winchester. It just felt like a good place for us."
-- LISA DARIS