Children from the YMCA's summer camp are looking forward to this year's Kid's Ride as part of the annual Tour de Putnam - Putnam Sentinel
Children from the YMCA's summer camp are looking forward to this year's Kid's Ride as part of the annual Tour de Putnam. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

PUTNAM COUNTY — The 10th Annual Tour de Putnam will take place on Saturday, August 24. Registration will begin that morning at 7 a.m. at the YMCA, 101 Putnam Pkwy. in Ottawa. This year’s tour will consist of four loops, a north route, a south route, an east route, and a west route. Each loop is approximately 25 miles, some a little more and some a little less. Completing all four routes will equal 100 miles.

Tour de Putnam has always welcomed entry level and casual riders to join the ride around the county. This year, the YMCA is extending that welcome to area children as well with the ‘Kids Ride.’

“It’s going to consist of riding around the track,” Brian Barhorst, the YMCA’s Sports, Membership and Wellness Director, says of the Kids Ride. “It will be a 20 minute max timeframe. I think what we’re looking for is about three to four laps. We’ll use the bigger portions of the track. Because the sidewalk is attached to our track. We’re going to use the larger part, and then they’ll actually ride out on the road, which we’ll close off for that 20 minute timeframe.”

“It’s just something fun we’re doing to try and encourage more kids to get out there and ride bikes. We’re not sure what we’ll get.”

The track is three quarters of a mile and was built with the support of Blanchard Valley Health Systems. The YMCA hopes to reach kids aged 5-10 years old, and families are being asked to sign-up in order to have an idea of how many participants to expect this first Year. Parents can do so by calling: 419-523-5233.

Mr. Barhorst also said that the Y expects a number walk-ups to join on Aug. 24 and all area families that wish to participate are encouraged to do so. Children will need to bring their own bike, and a helmet. The YMCA will be providing medals for all those who participate.

Longtime organizer Paul Nusbaum also spoke of the design for this year’s Tour de Putnam. “Let’s say you were riding this, and you get to the ‘Y’ that morning, and think, ‘Okay, I’m going to do the first loop, and based on then wind, I’m going to do the north loop first today.’ So, you do the north loop,” he says.

“And then, you end up back at the ‘Y,’ where there’s going to be, naturally, food and beverages. And then you decide, ‘Okay, I’m feeling pretty good today. I think I’m game for 50 miles.’ So then, you go out and do the east loop, and you end up back at the ‘Y’ again.”

“So, it’s sort of like a cloverleaf. Each loop that you complete, you end up back at the YMCA. We might have someone that shows up on the 24th who just wants to ride 25 miles, and they’ll have four loops to choose from.”

This will also make the event easier to manage for volunteers. Instead of having a rest stops in Kalida, Vaughnsville, etc., all rest stops are at the Putnam County YMCA in Ottawa. For safety, and to assist with any mechanical mishaps, separate support vehicles will also be present on all four loops. Riders will receive a wristband with a phone number printed on it to call for any needed assistance.

The Tour de Putnam is also part of five separate riding events that take place throughout the area. The Lima Land Tour took place in June, followed by the Ride to Remember in Bluffton and the Rally Point Ride, again in Lima, both of which occurred in July. Coming up on Sept. 8 is the Hancock Horizontal 100, a tour that’s now in its 49th year, and, according to Mr. Nusbaum, remains one of the more popular cycling events in the state.

“A lot of it is just the camaraderie with fellow cyclists, getting the chance to get together. It’s more enjoyable than riding alone,” Mr. Nusbaum says when asked why he personally participates in the regular rides that take off from the PC YMCA every Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. (weather permitting), as well as the annual Tour de Putnam. “And, we’re really blessed here in Putnam County with nice road surfaces. If you compare them to Michigan or Indiana, the roads we have here in Allen, Hancock, and Putnam counties are really well maintained and lend themselves to nice cycling as far as road surfaces.”