Popcorn Bike Tour has loyal cyclists
By Dan Sheridan
Originally Published in Marion Star August 2, 2009
Robert Coleman of Newark says that his lucky number is 22, so Kim Wenig always makes sure that Coleman is rider number 22 on the Popcorn 100 Bike Tour.
While Coleman is one of the tour’s most loyal riders, having ridden in 26 of the 28 Popcorn tours, many other riders return each year. The tour draws hundreds of cyclists from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
The 2009 tour will be on Saturday, September 12. Cyclists who plan to go 62 miles start at 8 a.m., while 25 mile riders will get under way at 9 a.m. Registration is at the enclosed shelter house in Marion’s McKinley Park, next to Marion General Hospital.
John Kemper of Cincinnati is among many who enjoy a cycling weekend by riding the Popcorn Tour on Saturday and Findlay’s Hancock Horizontal Hundred on Sunday. Kemper always stops in the Marion Cemetery near the finish of the Popcorn Tour, checking to see if the mysterious revolving ball has rotated since the previous year.
The tour offers 25 and 62 mile (100 kilometer) routes, but some riders creatively combine routes to make their own distances. In 2008, Ed Lux of Marion rode from his home to the start of the ride, followed the 62 mile route to the first snack stop, and then joined the 25 mile route for the return to McKinley Park. Lux, along with his son Pete and daughter Alyssa, ended up with a total of 39 miles.
Lux explained “The ride has become a family tradition. My sisters also ride, and we all have lasagna together afterwards.”
Veteran cyclist Judy Schaefer of Oregonia, Ohio selected the 2008 Popcorn Ride as her husband’s first organized tour. Schaefer said “The route was great, and so was the snack stop.”
Schaefer added “I always enjoy my rides in and around Marion due largely to the flat terrain and lightly travelled rural roads. It’s always an adventure to travel to new areas and see what the landscape has to offer.”
The riders will stop for snacks at St. John (Windfall) Lutheran Church on Newmans-Cardington Road. Cyclists who go 62 miles will also stop at Prospect Community Park. The tour travels on relatively quiet country roads in Marion County, with occasional forays into Morrow and Delaware counties.
Kim Wenig, administrative secretary in Marion General Hospital’s public relations department, has been in charge of the Popcorn Tour for 10 years. Wenig enjoys seeing the returning riders each year, and is especially appreciative of the many volunteers who make the ride possible.
Wenig is also grateful for the efforts of the Marion Radio Club, and added that the Marion County Medical Reserve Corps will also be helping with first aid coverage this year. The Marion County Engineer’s office helps by sweeping potentially hazardous debris from the route before the ride.
Riders who register on or before Friday, August 7 pay $12 for the first family member and $8 for each additional family member. In return, riders receive snack stops, a map, route markings, safety coverage, a patch, and a special snack after the ride. Pre-registered riders may order a commemorative T-shirt for an additional $10 ($12 for size 2X and 3X).
Riders may still register after August 7 and on the day of the ride, but the fees increase to $14 for the first rider in a family and $10 for each additional cyclist.
An application for the Popcorn 100 ride is available from the “Classes and Events” link at www.mariongeneral.com, or Wenig may be contacted at 383-8980
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