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 A Review of the Popcorn 100 | Mario OH | September 11, 1999      

By George Hellinger

Don't dismiss this tour "heavy" as a lightweight snack. According to the author: "This tour represents the best the Midwest has to offer."

The Popcorn 100 Bicycle Tour is held annually in conjunction with the Marion Popcorn Festival. The Popcorn Festival is the second largest festival in Ohio and celebrates the local popcorn industry that includes Con Agra’s Golden Valley, the maker of Act II Microwave popcorn, and Wyandot, the manufacturer of a variety of popcorn and snack products.

The Popcorn 100 offers 25-mile and 100-kilometer options. The 100-mile option was discontinued a couple years ago due to declining registration and difficult logistics. The remaining ride options provide a scenic ride through the countryside of Marion County. Both rides start and end at Marion General Hospital and allow riders to tour through some of Marion’s beautiful neighborhoods. The terrain in central Ohio is best described as flat-to-rolling. The Popcorn 100 tour put the emphasis on flat. The majority of roads were very lightly traveled; this allowed for larger groups of cyclists to ride together with minimal disruption to car traffic.

I arrived at registration shortly after the 7:00 AM opening. The 54-degree temperature was to be expected for the 11th of September. The forecast was for a high temperature of eighty degrees with clear skies and light winds. The riders of the Popcorn 100 were in store for an ideal early fall day.

The ride officially started at 8:00 AM with Marion police providing traffic control at busy city intersections to allow bicyclists an unencumbered ride to the outskirts of Marion. The 25- and 62-mile loops ran together for the first ten miles of the tour. The ride meandered southeast from the Marion city limits until the first rest stop was reached. As a sponsor of the Popcorn 100, Smith’s Diary provided a variety of products, including orange juice and cheese to compliment the bananas, grapes, cinnamon rolls, cheese danish, Rice Krispies treats, lemonade and water offerings. Shortly after the rest stop the 25-mile loop separated from the metric century course.

The metric century riders continued riding primarily south through the beautiful Ohio countryside until reaching the village of Waldo. Waldo is a delightful small town that plays host to the Hot Tamale bicycle tour each spring.

From Waldo the ride turns westward until reaching the village of Prospect which is probably best known by central Ohio residents as a village that suffers springtime flooding when the Scioto river decides to play outside its banks. Due to its location along the river, Prospect serves as a rest stop destination for the Mid-Ohio Century and the Tour de La Ware. Today's rest stop was at the Prospect Town Park. Once again the food offerings were numerous and varied. The cream cheese and bagels looked especially inviting. At this point, we had covered approximately thirty miles.

Leaving Prospect, we rode southward along the Scioto River for five miles or so. We then crossed the river and returned to Prospect. For those who didn’t get enough to eat the first time, the Prospect rest stop was available once more. From Prospect, the ride was northerly and looped to the east of Marion to allow riders a westbound entrance into the city.

On arrival at the starting point, riders checked-in and received a quality patch along with a comment form. All riders were encouraged to complete the comment form and return it to the check-in table. The food continued to get better. Along with the previous offering, caramel apples, Godfather dessert pizzas and chips were available to satisfy riders’ hunger.

The Popcorn 100 bicycle tour is a quality event. Everything about this ride was done right. Even the SAG service, which I had to utilize after breaking my chain, was first class. This tour demonstrates the best the Midwest has to offer; the use of comment forms gives assurance that this ride will continue to get better each year!

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