Bicyclists will welcome spring with a ride through the county

Graphic provided.

Bicycling enthusiasts are invited to Roanoke next month to take part in the May Madness Bicycle Tour. The event, sponsored by 3 Rivers Velo Sport, takes place on Sunday, May 17.

Participants can choose from 14-, 32- or 54-mile trips that all begin and end at Roanoke Elementary School, 423 W. Vine St., in Roanoke. Routes take riders on a scenic tour of Huntington County following paved, low-traffic secondary roads.

Depending on which route riders take, they may pedal over an iron trestle bridge, along the Wabash River, or over Roush Lake.

Registration at the school begins at 8 a.m. and all riders should be on the road by 9:30 a.m. Detailed route maps will be available and a support vehicle will roam the routes to assist riders with mechanical problems. Riders are encouraged to select a distance they can complete by 2 p.m., when support services will end.

About 130 bicyclists participated in last year's ride, which was resurrected after a couple of years' hiatus, says Huntington resident Jan Dickson, one of the organizers of the ride. Proceeds from the event go to 3 Rivers Velo Sport, a club that was founded in 1969 and now has about 200 members.

"It's not so much a fundraiser as it is a fun time," Dickson says of the event. "You don't have to be a member - it's open to anyone." Families are welcome and encouraged to participate, she adds.

Registration forms are available on the 3 Rivers Velo Sport Web site - Click on the May Madness 2009 Bicycle Tour link and then download a flyer. T-shirts are available for an additional fee, and participants are encouraged to register by May 3 to assure they get a shirt in the appropriate size.

All riders must sign an accident waiver and release of liability form, and participants under 18 years of age must have a signed parent's consent form. Riders must obey all traffic laws and use safe-riding practices.

Snacks will be available at all SAG stops and a special treat awaits riders at the end of their trek, Dickson says.

"We offer home-baked cookies after the ride," she notes, adding club members bake the goodies and bring them to the event.