WAPAKONETA — Around 260 bicyclists are in the region this week, participating in the Western Ohio Bicycle Adventure.
Eoin and Debbie Herlihy, of North Royalton, Ohio, were among the first to make it into Wapakoneta just after noon Sunday. Earlier that morning, the couple rode around Shelby County before driving from Sidney to Wapakoneta High School, where they set up a camp site.
“This morning we just rode to the morning stop, which was 16 miles. We figured we would just do a half-day today,” said Eoin Herlihy.
On Monday and Tuesday, they’ll be part of a larger group that’s scheduled for morning rides in Auglaize County before moving on to Versailles later on Tuesday and Wednesday and Troy on Wednesday afternoon through Saturday.
The Western Ohio Bicycle Adventure, or WOBA, is different than the more familiar Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure or GOBA.
GOBA usually included between 1,200 and 1,500 people.
“It takes a lot of planning in advance and commitments for contracts for shower trucks and luggage trucks and other venues that we camp at,” said Jeff Pierron, director of WOBA. “When we got to February we needed to really start making decisions on things. The situation with the pandemic was not looking so good, so we made the decision to cancel (GOBA).”
Instead, a shorter series of rides were scheduled and GOBA was renamed WOBA for this year only.
When the riders arrive in an area, they do it by motor vehicle. They used to cycle from one area to another.
“It has some advantages and it’s kind of fun,” said Debbie Herlihy. It gives you a little bit of flexibility to do this. What we used to do when we did GOBA was when our kids were real little, he and the older kids would ride and I would do the setup and takedown of the tent and then I would drive to lunch and meet him for lunch and feed them and meet them for the end. This way everybody’s got to do it. I think it’s kind of cool.”
The riders have more freedom to explore the communities on their own, where they could choose to stay in a motel instead of an encampment and they could ditch their cycling clothes and explore museums or local restaurants.
“Wapakoneta has just been awesome throughout all of this. They tried to work with us to put on this kind of reinvented, reimagined ride with the idea of coming back next year with a full-scale event,” Pierron said.
The Herlihy’s haven’t done GOBA in around 10 years and the WOBA event brings back connections to others they’ve met along the ride.
“It’s like a big family. We come back here and see people we know or people that’s just really friendly. It’s a lot of fun,” Debbie Herlihy said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.