The McClellan family, of Findlay, after the 2007 Hot Tamale Bicycle tour. (Photo by David Powell)

Hot Tamale Bicycle Tour June 6th

By Dan Sheridan

Originally Published in Marion Star May 3, 2009


Steve and Amanda McClellan have a unique theme for their annual family Christmas card picture.

The McClellans, of Findlay, are regulars on the Hot Tamale bicycle tour, along with their four
children. Steve and son Bryan ride a tandem bicycle, while pulling young Clara in a buggy.
Daughters Hannah and Taylor join forces with Amanda to power a three person bicycle.

After completing the 62 mile ride, the McClellans add sombreros to their colorful cycling clothes
and pose for a celebratory family picture, which they use as their Christmas card photo.

While the McClellans train for the full 62 miles, riders may also choose 8, 16, and 34 mile routes.
An adult in reasonable shape can comfortably do the 16 mile ride. Some young children can do 16
miles, while 8 miles may be more realistic for others. The 34 mile ride is a good distance for those
who have done some training rides, while the 62 mile route is for experienced cyclists.

Each year about 400 cyclists participate in the tour, which is now in its 26
th year. Cyclists travel
from many areas of Ohio and nearby states to enjoy the tour. Maureen Williams of Twinsburg,
Ohio, uses the Hot Tamale as a chance to catch up with old friends. She enjoys Marion County’s
scenery and lightly traveled country roads. According to Williams, “Nowhere in our area do we
have so little traffic. Even our bike paths have much more traffic than your country roads.”

The tour is sponsored by the Heart of Ohio Tailwinds bicycle club, and serves as a fundraiser for
the rail trail that the Marion County Park District is planning in western Marion County. The
bicycle club will donate $1 per rider to the trail efforts, and riders may add an optional donation
when registering. Over the past few years the club and Hot Tamale riders have donated nearly
$8,000 to trail efforts.

Paul Baker, who has mapped Hot Tamale routes for over 20 years, said “This is one of our best
routes ever.” Baker has designed a new route this year, following the Olentangy River basin
northeast from Waldo, passing farms, golf courses, and traveling through five villages.

This year’s tour is on Saturday, June 6
th, starting in the Waldo community park. Registration opens
at 7 a.m., and riders start at about 8 a.m. The event is not a race, but rather a tour of the countryside.
Riders who plan to go 62 miles are encouraged to be on the road before 8:30 a.m.

Cyclists who ride 8 miles will receive a snack when they return to Waldo. Those on the 16 mile
route will have a snack stop at Kings Mill golf course, while the 34 mile riders will stop at the
Caledonia fire station. Those who go the full 62 miles will make an additional scenic loop north
from Caledonia, passing a farm that raises buffalo and longhorn steers. These riders will return to
the Caledonia snack stop a second time.

The tour is known for delicious snacks. Club members bake a variety of homemade cookies in the
week before the ride, and riders often ask for the recipes for especially tasty cookies. Riders are
also treated to bananas and fresh strawberries.

Tour organizers try to make the event fun and affordable for families with young children. Children
aged 10 and under ride at no charge. A discounted rate of $7 for children aged 11 to 17 and $10 for
adults is available until May 23
rd. After that date, children 11 to 17 and adults pay $12. The
maximum ride cost for a family is $40. Colorful Hot Tamale shirts are available to preregistered
riders for an additional charge.

Cyclists must wear a helmet, and are expected to obey all traffic laws.

Riders can obtain additional information, print an application, or register online at
Applications are also available at Rocky’s Cyclery, or riders may register on the day of
the ride.

More information about the future rail trail is available at

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The McClellan family, of Findlay, after the 2007 Hot Tamale Bicycle tour. (Photo by David Powell)