PREBLE COUNTY — Over 80 bicyclists took part in a scenic tour of Preble County’s historic covered bridges on Saturday, June 26.
The 17th annual Buckeye Bridge Ride, organized by Friends of Preble County 4-H, set out from Eaton Athletic & Wellness Stadium at 9 a.m. Saturday. A 1.5-mile “family ride” co-sponsored by Preble Trails – another local nonprofit promoting events for cyclists – took riders on a shorter tour of Fort St. Clair State Park.
“Serious cyclists do a 45-mile ride, while more leisurely riders do a 17 or 31-mile,” Friends of Preble County 4-H board member Karen Hamilton said.
The full route allowed riders to visit Roberts Covered Bridge, located at 315 S. Beech St. in Eaton; Christman Bridge, located at 6081 Eaton Gettysburg Rd; Harshman Bridge, located on Concord Fairhaven Rd in western Preble County; and Hueston Woods Covered Bridge, located on Camden-College Corner Rd. Three of the four bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The route tends to avoid major roadways, according to Hamilton, to protect the riders’ safety and give participants a more pleasant ride.
“Our riders love these scenic, rural country roads,” Hamilton said.
Next year’s participants will have the chance to visit Preble County’s remaining four covered bridges, according to Hamilton.
“We tried to do it all in one, but that was a 100-mile ride, and not many people do that one,” Hamilton said. “This gives people the opportunity to see some bridges they probably wouldn’t have if we did it all at once.”
Riders enjoyed hot dogs, chips and homemade cookies after returning to Eaton Stadium, according to Hamilton.
“We thought it went very well – all our riders were complimentary about how nice the route was,” Hamilton said of Saturday’s event. “The only problem was it was a little windy.”
The event – which is Friends of Preble County 4-H’s major fundraiser each year, according to Hamilton – raised over $1,500 to help local kids attend 4-H Camp next year. Scholarship recipients from last year’s event will be attending camp this week.
“We try to help out 20 or 25 kids,” Hamilton said. “We’re kind of like a booster club for 4-H.”
Hamilton stressed the importance of the 4-H program to the young people of Preble County.
“There are almost 800 kids who sign up, and it’s not necessarily kids who work with livestock or take an animal to the fair,” Hamilton said. “They can do projects having to do with cooking, sewing, finance, bike safety – it offers so many opportunities to the kids, and we want to support that.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish