CHAMPION - Event organizers for the 10th annual World of Wildlife bike ride said they never expected to have 423 riders, the most ever for the nature ride in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.
Mel Milliron and Rob Toti, event organizers, said the first ride was held in 2005 with 154 registrants and has grown each year, numbering more than 200 and 300.
They credit cooperative weather for the turnout.
The second-highest turnout was in 2008 with 382 riders.
"This is a nature tour ride where people can ride the trail as far north as they want and see nature and surroundings," he said.
Riders travel along the Western Reserve Greenway in Trumbull and Ashtabula. Riders choose to bike 20, 40 or any distance up to 68 miles on the asphalt-paved, dedicated bike trail.
New this year is an event mascot, a black bear. There is a statue of one in the meeting room and also a logo on all letterhead and publicity pieces.
Toti said riders bring cookies to a luncheon to get raffle tickets for various bike riding items and prizes.
Milliron said people travel through Champion, Bristol and even into Ashtabula, which would be near 70 miles. The majority of participants rode to Pine Lake Campgrounds, which was about 40 miles.
Proceeds from WOW are targeted for the local funds needed for Trumbull County's Phase 4 of the Western Reserve Greenway, the section between Warren and Niles. Past rides have funded the pavilion materials at the Oakfield Trailhead, 2012 trail sealing and other projects.
More than $40,000 has been raised since the first WOW was held.