Cyclists praise WOW bike tour

CHAMPION — Early morning bicyclists from all over northeast Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and beyond participating in the 13th annual World of Wildlife Bicycle Tour were greeted Saturday with sunshine, a light breeze and temperatures that rose into the low 80s.

Many were there to support the work of the Trumbull County MetroParks in maintaining and improving the county’s portion of the Western Reserve Greenway Lake to River bike trail.

Others saw the WOW 2017 ride as an opportunity to get together with other biking enthusiasts, socialize and get a little exercise at the same time. The tours were 20-, 40- and 62-mile rides.

The total trail runs from Lake Erie in Ashtabula through Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.

A portion of the money earned in registration fees from the 415 riders will help support the completion of the final three- to-four-mile portion of what is expected to be a total 28-mile bike trail in Trumbull County. WOW has not counted money earned from raffle, T-shirt and other sales.

“About 25 miles of the bike trail has been done,” said Zachary Svette, operations director with the Trumbull County MetroParks. “We still have a four-mile stretch needed to connect Warren and Niles to finish.”

Although the county has a preferred site, the exact location has not been determined because of the need to obtain approvals from the Ohio EPA, obtain property easements and do engineering work.

“We are three to four years away from completing it,” Svette said. “Once we get this done, the total length of the bike trail from Ashtabula through Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana counties will be about 75 miles.”

Earnings from previous WOW rides helped to fund a variety of projects, including the placement of pavilion materials used at the Oakfield Trailhead in 2012. In 13 years, the rides have earned more than $76,000.

Ode Aduma, 74, of Youngstown, a retired WKBN 27 news reporter and a longtime runner and bicyclist, has been participating in the WOW rides for many years.

“I began riding when I was a teenager because I come from a poor family and riding was a way for us to explore and to get around,” Aduma said. “When my children were teens, I purchased bicycles for them and they began riding with me.”

“We would ride from Youngstown to New Castle,” he said. “That was a long ride, especially for teenagers.

Don and Jean Morningstar of Southington have been riding in the WOW Bicycle Tour every year since 2009. The Morningstars’ granddaughter, Cassie Hall of Aliquippa, Pa., and her dog decided to join the couple Saturday.

“We like using the bike trail and anything that can be done to maintain it, we’re willing to do,” Don Morningstar said. “The bike trail is giving cyclists a place to ride their bikes safely. Traffic is so dangerous and there are a lot of dogs on the street and in the neighborhoods.”

Siblings David Prokop of Fowler, Nancy Reynolds of Concord and Sue Datish of Howland decided at the last minute to ride together during Saturday’s bicycle tour.

“This is the first time we’ve done anything physical with one another for a long time,” Datish said. “We’re all here to visit our mother, Barbara Prokop, who lives in Manor of Autumn Hills. We have to go to give her a report about our ride.”