By Sondra Murphy
Cyclists turned out in record numbers for the sixth annual Ojai Valley Century Bike Ride Saturday benefiting Boy Scout troops 103 and 179. Coordinated by Ojai Valley Rides, Inc. for the third year, the ride started in Libbey Park on a comfortably hazy morning and had four routes, ranging from 60 to 100 meters, that took participants through Rose Valley, Casitas Pass, Montecito, Santa Paula and along the Ventura coast on the way back into Ojai.
“More riders than ever registered this year — 851,” said Kathy Ellison, volunteer coordinator for the event. “It’s a ride, not a race, through beautiful areas around the county.” Ellison said cyclists were able to chose from 62-, 124-, or two 100-mile distances.
“All of the rest stops are staffed by Boy Scouts,” said Steve Berkel, vice president of the OVRI board. “This year, our president, Jerry Boone, arranged medallions for riders who finished 100 miles for the first time.”
Boone had been involved with biking merit badges and other cycling-related programs for the Boy Scouts when he got the opportunity to coordinate the Century Ride. “Another guy and I ride bikes, so we knew that side of it,” said Boone. They organized it so that each scout who participates gets a share of the proceeds based on how much time they put into it. Plus, for every volunteer they get to help, those hours count toward the scout’s account. “So they can make enough doing this one day to pay for everything they do all year,” Boone said. “And this is a lot more fun than selling popcorn in front of a supermarket.”
Boone listened to comments from riders as they finished their courses. Repeat participants Curt Edmonds and Nathan Cuellar were glowing after they finished their routes. “It wasn’t too bad, it was cool, so that was nice,” said Edmonds.
Cuellar and Edmonds enjoy supporting the Century Ride. “We’re normally out riding anyway, so this gets us out of our routine,” Cuellar said.
“We want to keep it a personal ride for the riders,” said Boone. “We keep track of people who come back and use feedback to improve.”
Besides rest stops stocked with high-energy food, rehydrating fluids and complimentary Popsicles throughout the course, safety is closely monitored with the assistance of the Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club. “We have people stationed at the Rose Valley turnoff, Carpinteria High School, Patagonia, Casitas and Santa Ana Road,” said OVARC emergency coordinator Wayne Francis. He said 17 radio operators participated in the Century Ride this year and the event provides effective field practice for valleywide emergencies.
“This gives us a chance to get out of the house and exercise our gear,” Francis said. Self-sustaining port-ability is important to test and the hams enjoy testing the equipment and helping to keep an eye on the cyclists.
The Ojai Valley Century Bike Ride is scheduled for the first Saturday after Memorial Day, so mark your calendars for June 5, 2010.
For more information, go to ojaivalleycentury.org.
Photos by Sondra Murphy. Below, Jerry Boone, left, president of Ojai Valley Rides, Inc., thanks riders Curt Edmonds and Nathan Cuellar for supporting the Boy Scout benefit. At right, Kathy Ellison, right, volunteer coordinator for the sixth annual Ojai Valley Century Ride, rings in David Mitchell of Los Angeles as he finishes the Metric Century.