Keep On Rollin’

OCP To Host 23rd Annual Bike Fest July 26

Posted: July 17, 2014

Daily News-Record

Bicyclists roll out onto North Main Street at the start of the 22nd Annual Shenandoah Bicycle Festival 50-mile ride held July 27, 2013. This year’s installment will begin with the 100-mile ride taking off at 7 a.m. July 26. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R, File)
Mark Nitz and his wife, Danielle, unload their bikes for the 25-mile ride held during last year’s Shenandoah Bicycle Festival hosted by Our Community Place. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R, File)
Jamie Hood (left) and his father, Ron, of Fairfax, study a map of the 25-mile ride hosted during last year’s Shenandoah Bike Festival. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R, File)

Before Our Community Place became a staple in Harrisonburg, people behind the budding organization were hosting lawn jams and festivals to raise money for their efforts.

After purchasing OCP’s current building at 17 E. Johnson Street in 2001, the group was in need of funds for renovations.

So, when the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition approached the fledgling organization and asked if its members would like to take over the annual Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Festival, it was a natural choice. The event had been rolling for more than a decade at that point; this year’s installment is the 23rd annual.

In the mid-2000s, Ron Copeland, founder of the nonprofit, and his fellow movers and shakers started organizing the festival. The bike club continued to mark the routes and provide other support.  

To this day, the event that begins and ends at OCP’s muralized building is the biggest fundraiser for the organization — a day shelter, soup kitchen and resource center wrapped up in one.

But it’s more than just a way to make money.

The Event
The OCP team is hopeful that the festival will see similar success to last year’s, which boasted roughly 300 cyclists.

As the event — which features a 25-mile, 50-mile and 100-mile ride — is one of the earliest century rides around, it attracts attention from Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area. Most other centuries take place in the fall.

 The 100-mile ride will take off at 7 a.m. July 26, with the 50-miler beginning an hour later and the shortest installment starting at 9 a.m.

When cyclists come pedaling back, they’ll be welcomed with a full meal and live music from the Highland String Band.

‘Better Every Year’
“They’ve made it a much more festive festival,” says Marshall Hammond, an SVBC member who has been attending the festival for longer than he can remember. “They’ve really done a nice job in kind of putting their own touch on it, and it’s a nice thing to see an organization other than just a bike organization getting involved in something like that.”

Hammond helps mark the routes, and he plans to ride this year, as well.

The festival used to be a three-day affair hosted at Bridgewater College, he said, but it’s evolved along with both the bike club and OCP.

It not only generates roughly $8,000 a year for the nonprofit, but it also brings cyclists together for a unique event.

Thanks to the positive reputation the festival has in the biking community, Copeland says, the event has tripled in size since OCP first took it over.

“We learned a lot and made it better every year,” he said.

The event costs $40 per cyclist.

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Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or

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