Bumpy roads are a thing of the past.
At the 15th annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride this Saturday, June 21, an expected 1,200 bikers will ride a completed trail for the first time in the Pumpkinvine’s history.
The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail finished its current construction plans at the end of summer 2013. A new section of tunneled trail under U.S. 20 in Middlebury spans 1.25 miles – and marks the completion of a project more than 25 years in the making.
The idea was proposed by John Yoder of Goshen in 1989; construction began in 2000 with 1.75 miles of trail from Abshire Park in Goshen. Friends of the Pumpkinvine Trail sponsors the ride; the first was held in 2000, mostly along country roads. The ride serves two purposes: to raise money for maintenance and construction, and to spread awareness, said Bob Carrico, vice president of the organization.
“We’re using all of the trail,” Carrico said. “It’s exciting. There’s a small gap in a section between Middlebury and Goshen, and we’re working to purchase land there, but all original plans are complete.”
Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana are now connected by 25 miles of trail, with the Pumpkinvine also joining to Maple City Greenway and the MapleHeart Trail.
This Saturday’s ride will bring bikers to Michiana from all over Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and even as far as Arizona. Last year’s turnout totaled 1,219 people; this year, 730 have pre-registered.
Riders can choose from 10 recommended routes, ranging from 10 to 102 miles, which start at either Abshire Park in Goshen or Shipshewana Flea Market in Middlebury. Many stretches run through leafy woods or farmland; longer routes also go along country roads. Some rides will pass near Bonnyville Mill or Twin Lakes in Middlebury. There are 10-, 21-, 32-, 49-, 54-, 65- and 105-mile rides, beginning between 7 and 10:30 a.m.
SAG (Support and Gear) stops will provide snacks, refreshments and toilets at 15- to 20-mile intervals along the routes. At the Middlebury stop in Memorial Park, an eight-piece brass band will play through the day. Showers will also be available at starting locations, with pie and ice cream as bikers finish.
Evan Bontrager, coordinator of the ride, expects more than 1,000 bikes on the road. He advises cars to look out for riders, especially near C.R. 28 and U.S. 13. “We’ll have officers and volunteers at busier intersections to coordinate traffic,” Bontrager said.
With several different loops, he said, “there’s something for everyone at all levels.”
Registration for the 15th annual Pumpkinvine Ride will be Saturday, June 21, at Abshire Park or at the Shipshewana Flea Market. The cost is $35 for individuals and $30 for the 10-mile trail ride. Children ages 13 and younger ride for free.
For more information about the ride, routes and their maps, visit Pumpkinvine Nature Trail’s website.