GOSHEN — A lot has grown along the Pumpkinvine Trail over the past 14 years.
Not only has the trail seen constant construction and expansion over the past several years, but the amount of cyclists who occupy the trails during Pumpkinvine’s annual bike ride has jumped since its inception in 1999.
The 14th annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride takes place Saturday, June 15, with what Bob Carrico hopes will be a record number of participants. Carrico, who serves on the board of directors for The Friends of Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, estimates nearly 1,400 riders in this year’s event, up from 1,300 in 2012 and leaps and bounds ahead of 210 participants in the ride’s inaugural year.
“The bike ride really serves two purposes,” Carrico said. “One is to raise money for maintenance for the trail and the other is to bring attention to the trail.”
As the trail has grown, so has its regional popularity. Carrico said while the majority of cyclists are from Indiana, there are several participants from Michigan, Ohio and Illinois and even as far as New York and Arizona.
Even though Carrico said there hasn’t been a hard study, there are “some good indications” the annual bike ride has had a positive impact on trail usage during the rest of the year. “There are a lot of people who use it quite frequently for exercise,” he said. “Some of them ride it almost daily in the more favorable weather.”
During Saturday’s ride, cyclists will start from either the Shipshewana Flea Market or Abshire Park in Goshen on courses that span from 10 to 100 miles. A 1.4-mile section of new trail is open southwest of Middlebury.
Sections of the path are still under construction and are hoped to be completed by next year’s ride. With the trail still a work in progress, the route between Middlebury and Shipshewana has changed and will instead take riders through Krider Nurseries World’s Fair Garden and use 3.6 miles of county roads as a trail.
Rides will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, with the 10.2-mile and 13-mile trail rides beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tickets cost $35 per person or $30 for the trail ride. Children ages 13 and younger are free. Online registration is closed, but interested cyclists can sign up at either of the two starting sites the morning of the ride.
SAGs will be placed in 15-mile increments throughout the courses and will provide a rest area, drinks, snacks and sandwiches. For more information about the ride visit www.pumpkinvine.org and click on 2013 Bike Ride.
Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon contributed to this report.