HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Riders from near and far rode the rural roads of Ashtabula County during the Seventh Annual Bridges and Vines Bike Tour on Saturday.
"The scenery and the camaraderie at the end," is what 39-year-old Mike Morehouse, of Ashtabula, said he enjoys most about the tour.
Morehouse said he works hard for two weeks ahead of the event each year trying to ride 25 to 30 miles a day, four days a week. He said he also enjoys the "sense of accomplishment" in competing the 39-mile tour.
Riders had the choice of 12 miles to more than 100 as they left, and returned, to South River Winery.
Asa Mathouravong traveled to Ashtabula County from Cuyahoga Heights for the trip. "It is a nice day and we like wine," she said after finishing.
Margie Moskovitz finished her third tour in 2019 and rode the 25-mile course. "It is my best," she said of her finish.
She said she also enjoys benefiting the United Way through her efforts. "I forgot how great it is to give to a good cause," she said.
The United Way of Ashtabula County is the cause, and use the money as a major part of their operating budget, said Executive Director Ann Kitchen.
"It is extremely important. It is our one special event we do annually," Kitchen said. She said profits range from $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
The United Way partners with former executive director, Randy Jones, through his The Road Ahead Bike Tours.
Kitchen said the event drew 477 people to the area to ride, and an estimated 75 volunteers who helped make the course safe.
"A lot of them (the volunteers) we don't even see," Jones said. He said many are given instructions and a place along the course to monitor to help make vehicles aware of the people crossing roads and also watch for any signs of a rider in trouble.
Jones said riders came from as far away as Texas, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Columbus.
Joe Daniels, of Erie, relaxed while eating a meal amidst a group of bicycles after completing the event. "It is great. It is my seventh tour. It is a beautifully run event ... and it is for a good cause," he said.
Patty White came all the way from Indiana, Pennsylvania. "I picked up a brochure in a local bike store in Pittsburgh," she said.