united way, riders gearing up for charitable cleveland-to-akron bike tour

Northeast Ohio cyclists better gear up, because two local chapters of the United Way are counting on them to take in the local scenery for a good cause.

United Way of Greater Cleveland and United Way of Summit County are partnering to host the third annual RideUNITED bicycle tour June 23. The charities are expecting about 700 cyclists to travel either the Towpath Trail or city streets for this one-day, Cleveland-to-Akron-and-back event.

A variety of route distances have been implemented to accommodate all cyclists, with options ranging from a 12-mile jaunt for novices up to a 100-mile century ride for experts, says Michelle Carver, special events manager for the Cleveland chapter of United Way. All routes are round-trip except the 40-mile ride, which ends at the University of Akron.

The tour is expected to raise up to $80,000 to advance United Way programming in the areas of education, income and health. Last year, more than 500 cyclists participated in RideUNITED, raising more than $54,000.

This year's ride will take participants on a bike-friendly course past such Cleveland landmarks as the Rock Hall and the newly renamed FirstEnergy Stadium. Towpath riders, meanwhile, will get to enjoy the bucolic splendor of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Those who don't want to ride can still volunteer at rest stops along the way, notes Carver. Snacks, first aid and bike maintenance/repair will be provided to cyclists at Steelyard Commons, Thornburg Station, Boston Store and the Indian Mound/Botzum Trailhead.

"The idea was to bring the region together," Carver says of the bike tour. "We're inviting everyone to participate."

SOURCE: Michelle Carver
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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