Scioto River Valley

Columbus is the host of the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV), one of America’s longest-standing large group rides. TOSRV makes the claim, with some credibility, that its popularity led to the original U.S. bike boom back in the 1970s. The two-day, 210-mile event peaked at over 6,000 riders in the 80s, and helped establish the idea of the organized century ride as the foundation of recreational cycling in America. TOSRV, like most century rides, is not oriented towards utility cycling, though it helped inspire BikeCentennial in 1976, which led to the growth of bike touring culture in the U.S. Bike touring is closer to utility cycling than lycra rides are; Surly’s Long Haul Trucker is currently the best mass-produced bike for both touring and urban riding.

So, social riding is part of the culture around Columbus, and I was able to hook up with the regular Tuesday night social ride. I’d had a snafu with getting a loaner, so I rolled up on a klunky bike share bike, which earned me a few askance looks. But people warmed up once I introduced myself, and the leader of the ride, Ray George, is one of the founders of Yay Bikes!, and is still on the board,

Tuesday Night Ride

Tuesday Night Ride

One of the big things Yay Bikes! runs is social ride, “Bike the CBus“, which is a self-guided tour through urban Columbus neighborhoods. Definitely more oriented towards utility cycling than most event rides, Ray credits Bike the CBus with inspiring several cyclists to buy houses along the route in bikeable neighborhoods which they may not have known about. The route changes every year to highlight different areas of the city.

Ray gives the goals of Yay Bikes! as “safety and place-making.” Safety is a common goal among bike advocacy organizations, but place-making as an explicit goal is a little unusual. Certainly projects like North Minneapolis and Little Sugar Creek¬†have place-making components, but the dialog tends to be more about safety and auto trip reduction.

The ride was mostly along the Scioto River. We got dinner at a taco truck, did a coasting race down a Soapbox Derby hill, released some candle balloons (there’s something you wouldn’t see in California), and then wrapped up at a hipster beer garden on High Street.

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