13th Towpath Century Ride seeking volunteers

13th Towpath Century Ride seeking volunteers

Image Credit: File

The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition is seeking volunteers to help with its annual Huntington Towpath Century Ride. The event, which will take place Sept. 17 and 18, will finish in New Philadelphia at the Holiday Inn Express Suites at 145 Bluebell Drive SW.

“This is the 13th year for the event, which starts at Canal Basin Park in Cleveland a goes the entire 101 miles of the Towpath Trail,” said Amber Genet Barkoukis, vice president and COO for the O&EC.

The two-day ride required cyclists to raise at least $1,000 to go toward completing the last few connector trails in Tuscarawas County.

“We don’t have novice bike riders,” Barkoukis said. “These are people who train very hard all year long to make sure they can complete this event, so it’s also a very enthusiastic group, and then it is our biggest fundraising event of the year.”

Barkoukis said the only sections remaining to be completed are those past Route 800 and ending at Waterworks Park in New Philadelphia.

The O&EC is looking for people who can help with tasks at the finish line such as checking in riders as they finish, helping with bicycle parking, and helping at the post-event celebration by welcoming riders, guiding them toward showers and other amenities, and perhaps replenishing food during the celebration.

Volunteers are being asked to work three-hour shifts, either from 3-6 p.m. or 5-8 p.m.

Volunteers also are needed to greet and check in riders in Massillon during lunches on Saturday and Sunday at the Blue Heron Deli.

Volunteers will be given a volunteer shirt to wear during the event and the opportunity to cheer on cyclists as they complete the ride.

A little history

Barkoukis said the Century Ride began in 2010 with just 17 bicyclists, but it has grown quickly every year. In 2021 more than 80 bicyclists raised more than $130,000. This year 93 riders are registered with a goal of raising $170,000.

In Tuscarawas County there are three riders who have participated for years. Named Team ZTAP, they include Patti Himmel, Ken Johns and Joe Krocker.

The most recently completed section of the trail was made possible in part by the efforts of riders in both the Towpath 100 and the shorter Towpath 50.

“The McDonald trailhead is a quarter-mile section, and completing it was a really big deal,” Barkoukis said. “It takes quite a bit of effort and resource to open up even a few 100 feet of the Towpath Trail.”

Completion of the remaining quarter-mile connected 90 miles of the trail and linked it with four counties. The trail now includes a bridge over the river, under the railroad and an elevated boardwalk.

“The Towpath Trail is a real quality-of-life amenity for residents and visitors because it serves a wide variety of purposes,” said Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. “People are out there exercising, riding bikes, relieving stress from the workday, or maybe stress at home or school.”

According to an economic impact report from 2015, 2.5 million people use the Towpath Trail each year.

If interested in volunteering or for more information, call or email Barkoukis at 330-374-5657 or agenet@ohioeriecanal.org.