OTTUMWA — This bike ride is a joke. No, seriously.
The 10th annual "Ride With the Clowns" spring tune-up is set for Saturday, May 3, and this fun ride is sponsored by the Ottumwa Shrine Club Clown Unit.
"It draws a regular crowd," said Mark Merringer, one of the organizers for the ride. "It's something we look forward to every year, and we'll have 70-80 riders."
Many of those riders have been riding with the clowns from the beginning, as this is one of the major fundraisers for the organization. The Shriners are focused on helping children with birth defects, and money raised from the ride in the past has gone to Special Bikes for Special Kids. Custom bikes, often more like tricycles, are made for each child.
"This is our fundraiser for Shriners clowns," Merringer said. "It's our operating money to go to shows, and at the end of the year we're able to give these donations."
The 30-mile ride will begin at Bridge City Bowl, 1527 Albia Road, where there will be plenty of room for parking and some pre-ride refreshments. The departure time will be from 9-10 a.m. regardless of the weather.
Riders will follow the scenic terrain of old Highway 34 West, through the historic town of Munterville and on to the halfway point of Blakesburg, where there will be pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and chips for $5. Beverages will be available for a donation. The alternate route will be the city bike path behind Aspen Dental to the old railroad bridge and across the river, then exiting town on the west side of Highway 23 to Chillicothe, following Power Plant Road to the County Line Road and into Blakesburg.
After lunch, the ride will continue back to Ottumwa on Bluegrass Road. Maps and sag wagon numbers will be available with registration on ride morning.
Registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt.
For more information, call Mark at 641-682-3709 or Dan at 641-799-3135.
— Follow reporter Laura Carrell on Twitter @CourierLauraC