EATON — Friends of Preble County 4-H held the 14th annual Buckeye Bridge Ride on Saturday, June 24. The ride allows bicyclists to visit up to five of the eight covered bridges in Preble County.
There are three different routes which provide either a 26.5, 40.5, or 56.4 mile ride. There are four stops along the routes for the riders to rest, and possibly take part in the “Buckeye Challenge,” if they so choose.
Ultimately, the Buckeye Bridge Ride is a fundraiser event for the county’s 4-H program. According to Rachael Vonderhaar, treasurer for Friends of Preble County 4-H, the point is to make 4-H camps and conferences more affordable for the children.
“The Buckeye Bridge Ride — the people are coming to see the lovely covered bridges in the county and it’s a great draw for that purpose, to get to highlight the bridges,” Vonderhaar said. “Also, to raise money to sponsor the 4-H kids in the community so they can attend leadership camps, like Washington Leadership Conference — and then there’s a state leadership program through 4-H that they attend. Then, help the kids attend the summer 4-H camp, offset some of that cost.”
The riders don’t have to sign up for the buckeye challenge — they are welcome to a casual ride. If they choose to register for the challenge, it is a timed course.
Vonderhaar added, “You have to eat a buckeye at each of the SAG stops — just one — but they’re huge. We did have a couple of late challengers, and they’re going to eat three smaller ones to equal the one big one. That gives you an idea of the buckeyes.”
According to Vonderhaar, the course is a challenge. Towards the East side of the route it gets hilly, especially as they make their way towards the Historical Farm. “It’s a really pretty view. You get a good mix of what the Eastern side of the county looks like, and several of our bridges. We have several riders that will not only do the 50 – they’re not a part of the challenge, but they’ll do the 50 twice,” she said.
They do keep track of all of the riders as they come back in, to make sure all the riders get to the final checkpoint safely. On the wrist bands there is a cell phone number added for emergency and Vonderhaar will call the riders cell phone to check on them if there is any question of safety.
This year’s BBR had 60 riders preregistered, which according to Vonderhaar, is a record.
“There were quite a few who are the new sign-ups today. We’re 100-plus on the ride already and some of our pre-registers aren’t in yet,” she said. “It was a perfect day with regard to the weather. Yesterday definitely scared us. Nobody wanted Hurricane Cindy to come in during the Buckeye Bridge Ride,” she said.
“Generally our goal is to net $5,000 a year, because that meets the requirements of what we’ve supported in the past for the 4-H program. That’s our minimum goal we shoot for each year and we’re on track for that.”
The SAG stops are manned by 4-H groups. The groups also help with setup and with the baked goods at the stops. The buckeyes made for the challenge are prepared by Jane Marshall.
Sponsors for the event included: Reid Health, Crop Production Services, Gratis Eagles, Vonderhaar Transport, LLC, Brukbaker Grain, Catron’s Glass, Inc., Vonderhaar Farms, Preble County Pork Festival, Ohio Farm Bureau Preble County, Beck’s Creech Farms, Preble County Ag Society, Rumpke, Keith and Bev Schmidt, Preble County Historical Society, Senator Bill Beagles and Representative Jeff Rezabek, Preble County OSU Extension, Richmond Baking Contract Manufacturing Solutions, DSS LLC, Simon Insurance Agency, PromoSpark, All 4 Education, LLC, Farm Credit of Mid-America, Vonderhaars Catering, Inc., Positive Points Inc., Bikewise, Washington Twp. Livestock 4-H Club, Lewisburg Blue Ribbon 4-H Club, Preble County Livestock 4-H Club, Preble Lambs 4-H Club, Spic N Span Pots N Pans 4-H Club, and Preble Roots.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH