COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In August, Pelotonia will celebrate 15 years of raising critical funds for a disease that impacts all of us. This year, they’re marking that anniversary by introducing a new event for cycling enthusiasts here in central Ohio.

It’s called “gravel riding.” Cycling enthusiasts describe it as a middle ground between road cycling and mountain biking. “Gravel cycling, sort of has really exploded nationally and in central Ohio,” admits Pelotonia President Joe Apgar.

And because of growing demand, this year Pelotonia will introduce “Gravel Day” as their newest challenge. “I think it was sort of the community coming out an asking for something new,” Apgar describes. “In Ohio we don’t have any oceans, we don’t have any mountains, we don’t have any glorious lakes in central Ohio, but we have a lot of connected dirt roads, a lot of unkept roads. So, sort of the perfect storm for us to create something fun.”

It’s typically done with what’s called a ‘drop-bar’ bike, on unpaved roads. Experts say that one gravel mile is equal to two paved miles. “The tires are a little bit bigger volume. They can ride over more varied terrain and the gearing is a little bit different as well,” explains Brody Wakefield, of Roll: Bicycle Company.

Organizers say that Gravel Day is perfect for experienced riders hoping to take it up a notch, but with proper preparation, news riders can enjoy too. “We have some really tough climbs out there, so maybe some interval training rather than just a traditional, long endurance style road ride would really benefit,” Wakefield encourages.

For Gravel Day, cyclist will ride through the hills of Athens County, with three different routes — each beginning and ending in Nelsonville. “It’s kind of an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban community and the cars that might be on the road and just get out there and really experience nature a little bit,” says Wakefield.

For participants, it’s an opportunity for an exciting new adventure with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors. “It’s like almost relaxing and meditative,” Apgar adds. “I think people are excited to be back to the normal event experience, post-pandemic,” Apgar describes.

While for organizers, the event means more funds to support their one mission. “We’re looking forward to bringing some new things into ride weekend,” Apgar boasts. “Really think and really hope that more people come into the Pelotonia experience, and ultimately are raising money for cancer research.”

Pelotonia ride weekend will be August 4-6. Gravel Day will take place on September 30. Pelotonia is capping registration for Gravel Day at 500 participants, so spots are limited.

To register for Pelotonia, to sign-up as a volunteer, or to simply learn more about Pelotonia and their mission, click here.