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Sunday, July 25, 1999 -- Huntington
Huntington Regatta Bicycle Tour

[Coverage/Recap] [Picture Set 1] [Picture Set 2]

Huntington Police
Yes, it's a bike ride, they're just making sure it's a safe one
The Century Ride
Story by Chas Mick, photos by Don Parks and others

Over 100 cyclists turned out for the Huntington Regatta Bicycle Tour hosted by the Huntington Bicycle Center on Sunday. The tour capped a fun filled weekend of carnival rides and other events such as the National Jet Ski Competition. Riders participating in the tour had options to ride 31 miles, 62 miles, and 100 miles on an out-and-back course starting and ending at Harris Riverfront Park. WVOutside, always seeking adventure, sent three riders (including the CEO) to participate in the event who thankfully lived to tell the story.

Huntington, July 25th -- When Brad Coffman and I were given the assignment to cover the Huntington Regatta Bicycle Tour, we jumped at the opportunity. We immediately decided this event would be best covered only by participating - all 100 hundred miles of it. Little did we know, about 2 hours before our departure for Huntington on Saturday night, that the owner of WVOutside himself, Don Parks, would decide to personally photograph the tour and ride with us.

5th Avenue
All the riders make their way down Huntington's Fifth Avenue
We departed Morgantown about 9:30 Saturday night for Huntington intending to sleep wherever we could park our truck. We found a cozy parking lot about 10 miles from Harris Riverfront Park about 1:30 a.m. to bed down for the night. Due to the early start time for the race, we only had about 5 hours of less-than-restful sleep, which is far less than the recommended amount prior to a century ride. No problem for team WVOutside!

We made our way to the starting table at Harris Riverfront Park about 7:20 a.m. and were greeted by many other enthusiastic cyclists ready for a full day of touring. The ride started on time at 8:00am with a mixture of riders opting to pedal 31 miles, 62 miles, and 100 hundred miles. Little did we know that team WVOutside would actually be the "120 mile riders". I'll explain later.

Morning Sun
The morning sun shines on a rider approaching the first rest area
From the park, we headed to 5th Avenue, which would lead us to the 31st Street Bridge. Don quickly jumped out in front hoping to gain a good vantage point of the pack of 100 riders as they approached the West Virginia-Ohio border on the bridge.

The route leading to the first turnaround was flat, fast and shady. Traffic was at a minimum, as it was the entire ride, which always makes for an enjoying experience. Our spirits were high, as were those of other riders relaxing at the rest area. We enjoyed some cold beverages and fruit thanks to volunteers and supporters from the Huntington Bicycle Center. This first rest area was the turnaround for those opting for the 31-mile ride. After waiting to photograph every rider we could, we decided to take off for the next rest stop.

A shady porch is a perfect resting place after 30 miles
We were, for the most part, riding by ourselves at this point since we had dilly-dallied so long at the first rest area. We started to find our groove and began riding in a pretty efficient pace line. I had made several efforts to slow our pace up, but Brad and Don would have none of it. They were pushing hard and I spent most of my time sucking Brad's wheel attempting to hang with the two of them. Since the full heat of the sun had not yet shone down on us, we made it to the next rest area with little trouble.

At the turnaround for the 62-mile ride, we were greeted with more cold beverages and fruit. I found myself loading up this time with a multitude of cookies and bananas. Some of the riders began to look a little weary but were still ready for more. Don got everybody together for a group picture and was sure to tell everybody to check WVOutside for his or her photo. After making sure our water bottles were full, we set out for the 100 mile turn around point.

Jeremy Hetsell looks for a wheel to grab from WVOutside
This leg of the tour began to toughen up a bit due to some long rolling hills and the lingering heat wave that has gripped the entire state. The heat wave on this day was just as bad, and the shady areas began to appear fewer and farther between. Don, Brad, and I decided to take a little break about 5 miles into the leg for a little rest and some minimal bike maintenance.

We began to think we would never see another rider when we came upon the "Grasshopper". Jeremy Hutsell, that is, of Wheelersburg, Ohio. Jeremy jumped in our pace line and together we all made it to the 100-mile turn-around in Rio Grande, Ohio. Jeremy is a member of the Spoke Junkies - a cycling club based in Northeast Ohio. For more info on Jeremy and the Spoke Junkies, check out their web site, At the 50-mile rest area, we again loaded up on cold beverages and fruit. WVOutside also met their biggest fan, Kevin Etter. As a matter of fact, Kevin wanted us all to autograph his t-shirt, which we readily obliged. I never thought ANY body would EVER ask us for our autograph. Just goes to show you what cycling can lead to!

Pretty? Yes!
Lost? Soon enough!
Leaving the 50-mile turn-around, we (Don, Brad, Jeremy, and I) decided to take the alternate route back to Route 141. This detour was marked by yellow markers instead of the regular orange markers, and was intended to be a little flatter and more scenic than the main route that we had just traveled. We were looking forward to riding along a nice cool creek that we were promised the detour followed. Shortly after leaving the rest area, however, we saw a beautiful windmill off to the right in a daisy packed field of green grass - a great picture opportunity. This is when we made our big mistake, which would ultimately extend our century ride at least twenty miles.

Perhaps the windmill made us all dream of a European vacation some day. Regardless, our minds were obviously not on the road following the markers. After approximately 10 miles of riding in what was now near 100-degree heat, we began wondering why we had not seen a detour marker. We decided we better stop and evaluate our situation at the "Big Wheel Carry Out". Thanks to Peg and April at the Big Wheel, we were given a map and shown where we were. To our dismay, we were off-course approximately ten miles. Peg, the store owner, was kind enough to give us detailed directions on the quickest, and unfortunately far from the flattest, way home. After chatting with April and Peg a bit more, and enjoying some liquid barley-and-hops refreshment, we began the journey to get back on course and complete this century.

Brad Coffman
Brad isn't the only one glad to be back on course
Thankfully, the journey to find the right course was straightforward. We found the markers again about 1 hour later. Finding the course proved to be a little rough for Grasshopper, and with his consent, Don, Brad, and I continued on ourselves knowing we would see him at the next rest area. We made it the rest area just in time - they were beginning to pack up! We got our fill of water and continued on our way.

We quickly found a convenience store offering more barley-and-hops carbo loading beverages and tracked down a shady section of trees to rest up a bit for the last push home. The sag wagon, knowing we had gotten lost and rode a considerable amount out of our way, pulled up to us and offered us a ride. We declined. It's not in the spirit of a WVOutside reporter/racer to give up on any ride. Knowing the day was waning, we did not rest for long.

31st Street Bridge
The 31st Street Bridge takes us home to Huntington
Aside from the incessant heat the last twenty miles were not so bad. We arrived back at the 31st Bridge about 5:00 p.m. and praised the "Welcome to West Virginia" border sign hanging midway on the bridge crossing. Somehow, seeing that sign made me forget about the heat, my sunburn, my dehydration, and the fact we had gotten lost. It all seemed well worth the effort. We slowly made our way back down 5th avenue noticing the temperature reading by the roadside of 99-degrees!

When we arrived back at Harris Riverfront Park, everyone had already left. We had told the sag wagon when they offered us a ride that we would be all right and not to wait on us. In fact, the entire Regatta, carnival rides and all, were gone. It was a victory that Don, Brad, and I alone would share. After completing such an epic journey, the sheer feeling of accomplishment is as ample award as any of us needed. As a matter of fact, we are looking forward to our next century!