CLEVELAND - The First Merit Towpath Century Ride is an example of the adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".
Corporate and foundation financial support of the Ohio and Erie Canalway scaled back roughly 25 percent because of economic conditions in 2010. Supporters came up with a fundraising idea so simple, it was ingenious - ride the entire length of the trail.
Seventeen cyclists rode the 100-plus mile Towpath trail and, through pledges, raised $22,000.
This year's ride is looking for 70 riders to make the Cleveland-to-Tuscarawas-County ride. Click here for registration and ride information.
Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, said they're looking for riders to do the two-day ride May 18 and 19. Three of those 70 spots will be taken by Rice, his wife and 8-year-old daughter, Rachael. Although his daughter is a good cyclist, she won't be doing the entire ride.
"Cyclists are asked to raise a minimum of $750, but many raise much more than that," said Rice noting some will raise nearly $4,000.
Riders have the option of doing the entire route in one day. Both options will start in Cleveland. Riders and their equipment will be transported from parking areas in Massillon or New Philadelphia.
Gaps remain in the Towpath, but organizers have made plans to cope with the voids.
"In Cleveland, we'll ride on city streets until Harvard (Avenue)." Rice said. "Two-day riders will have a sheriff's escort from New Philadelphia to Zoar."
Those riders raising $1,000 or more will receive a commemorative bicycle jersey.