The annual Hope Ride bicycle event, held in September, draws an eclectic group of more than 2,000 bicyclists to the community for rides filled, each year, with new locations, fresh routes and fun entertainment. The 2015 ride will be the 28th year for the event.
The ride is a fundraiser for area food banks. The group with the largest number of total team members wins $2,000 for the food bank of their choice, while each team with more than 50 riders will receive $1,000 for their food bank.
The Hope Ride has five routes to accommodate cyclists of every skill level, ranging from the starting 13-mile route to 100 miles. Each route wends its way through the countryside around Hope and Bartholomew County with the longer routes dipping into neighboring counties.
The entry fee covers camping, rest stops with refreshments along the way and lunch on the town square.
A free-will donation breakfast is a fundraiser for the Dollars for Scholars program, which provides scholarships to Hope-area students. The 2013 breakfast raised $3,500 for area scholarships.
Founder and organizer Paul Ashbrook says the event is just meant to be fun.
"It is about as laid back of bicycling as you are going to find. It is just kind of fun, non-hurried, non-competitive. Come and enjoy the food, enjoy the riders, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the music."
Ashbrook started the event in 1988 when he found out that area food banks were in desperate need. He decided to stay combine some of his favorite biking routes with a fundraiser. The first event drew a meager 13 riders, but it has grown since with more than 2,000 riders taking part in 2014.
The entire community gets involved in the event with school children, churches, community groups and even the Hope Police Department taking part in the festivities. Area groups set up quirky and entertaining rest stops along the way and area families in the Cookie Brigade bake fresh snacks for the riders.
Ashbrook said there were more than 250 volunteers for the 2014 event.
"It is truly Hope's event. This really is Hope's ride. It grew into its name."