XENIA — The 11th annual Greene Trails Cycling Classic is continuing a tradition of building friendships this weekend. Hosted by Greene County Parks and Trails, the event features a ride on one of the region’s trails each of its four days. It allows participants to move at their own pace and enjoy the trails how they wish.
It’s the first day of the event, and it’s cool for a July morning. Judging by how many talk about the heat present during last year’s event, it’s a welcome change.
Several tents dot the landscape surrounding the base camp for the event, the Greene County Fairgrounds Recreation Center in Xenia. Gradually cyclists are starting to stir out of the tents they pitched the day before. Others are stepping out of vehicles in the parking lot, having just rolled in.
As they prepare to ride, many conversations start up, and it’s clear that there are many friendships here. For some, the event is just as much about the friendships formed while riding as it is about the actual cycling.
Through the years, many have come to enjoy the event, and they’re not just from Greene County. Take Connie and Ed Drake for instance. They’re from Independence, Mo. – just a quick nine hour, 600 mile trip over on I-70. They’ve become friends with Matthew Mills and his family. They’re from Van Wert, Ohio. The two groups met through the event and keep in contact throughout the year.
Or how about Connie Rudd from Erlanger, Ky. – a two hour journey. This year, she is continuing a tradition that she started at the first classic back in 2003. She estimates that she’s been to ten of the events, judging by the shirts she’s collected from them. She had two surgeries this summer, so this year she’s walking with her dog Rocky. He’ll ride some and walk some, she said.
Or another group, made up of Ohioans: one from Bellbrook (that’s Gail Condra), one from Columbus (that’s Marge Ward) and one from Marysville (that’s J.L. Herron). Condra and Ward met on a ride to London in 2011. Originally Condra had planned to ride to London with a group, but when the group decided to change their route, they suggested she ride with Ward.
“They said, ‘You can go with Marge.’ ” she said. “Then the crowd kinda opens up and here’s this gal, this little, short, white-haired gal. I couldn’t keep up with her.”
They’re friends still today.
Or what about a couple from Gulf Shores, Ala. Or yet another from Mississippi. You get the idea. They’re here from all over the place, and they’re ready to ride.
Once tires are checked and bottles are filled with water, cyclists young and old gradually trickle out of the parking lot to hit the trails. It’s great day to ride a bike.