Kristen Mitchell / Campus editor
Thousands of cyclists gathered Saturday in downtown Columbus on a chilly morning to support cancer research.
These cyclists were riding in Pelotonia, the 4th annual bike ride fundraiser that benefits The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee came out to cheer on riders and pose for photos before the ride began.
According to the Pelotonia website, 6,212 cyclists and countless donors had raised more than $10.5 million for the James Cancer Hospital by Saturday morning, a number that continued to grow throughout the day. Last year, 4,986 riders and their supporters raised $8.8 million for cancer research.
Riders started soon after dawn, leaving from the Columbus Commons downtown, all biking a 25-, 50-, 75-, 100-, 155- or 180-mile ride. While in the past routes have led cyclists through southeastern Ohio, this year, routes led riders north.
The new location of the ride has allowed more routes to be added, and the diverse ride lengths brought out bikers with all levels of experience.
“This is my first time, I’m excited,” said Jonathan Leung, a third-year in finance at OSU who was riding in the 25-mile race to Pickerington, Ohio. Leung said he only rides his bike twice a week.
Others had more previous cycling experience.
“I’m a cyclist normally and a duathlete,” said Melissa Hopson of Cincinnati, who was riding in the 50-mile race to New Albany, Ohio. “It’s such an amazing fundraiser.”
The morning started off unseasonably cool with temperatures in the low 60s, and rider Martin Campell of Lancaster said he was most excited about being warm again after the race was finished. He was riding 25 miles.
The 25-mile ride finished in Pickerington, and the 50-mile race finished in New Albany. There were two routes for the 100-mile race, finishing in Gambier, Ohio, and Bennington, Ohio. The 155-mile race took riders from Pickerington to Gambier and then to New Albany and riders of the 180-mile route began in Columbus and traveled to Gambier and then to New Albany.
The majority of the races began at the Columbus Commons, however the two routes of the 75-mile race and the 155-mile race started in Pickerington.
Kathy Samelson, a rider from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, rode in the 50-mile race to New Albany, and said before the race that it was going to be the farthest she had ever ridden. She participated in the race because her father, who recently died of a brain tumor, had been treated at The James. Shortly before the start of the race, she said that when she was done she would have to “chase down” her husband, who, in his 4th Pelotonia, was doing the 100-mile ride.
Bikers in the shorter rides are expected to finish throughout the day Saturday. Riders participating in either the 155-mile or 180-mile ride are expected to finish Sunday, after traveling 75 or 100 miles on Saturday and 80 miles on the second day of the race.