Bob and Vicky Reynard moved to Muncie last year after living on a sailboat near the Caribbean Islands for nine years.
On Saturday morning, the couple found themselves in Brownstown preparing for the 26th annual Brownstown Exchange Club Round Barn Bike Ride.
The couple have traveled the world, and after moving to Muncie, they decided to take up biking as a hobby and for exercise, so they drove down to participate in their first official ride.
The ride has mileage routes that include 32, 68 and 80-plus miles. Along the scenic way of Jackson County, riders have stops at the Stuckwish and Hall round barns — the only two round barns in Jackson County — and the Medora Covered Bridge. The route also trails near Starve Hollow State Recreation Area in Vallonia. Longer routes go through Kurtz, Clearspring, White’s Chapel and Cortland.
Story continues below gallery
Growing up on a farm, Vicky said she was excited to explore her new hobby while seeing the countryside and round barns.
“The round barns drew me and wanting to get started in riding events,” she said before hopping on her bike at Brownstown Central Middle School. “We’re trying this new lifestyle and really getting out and enjoying ourselves.”
The couple recently traveled to Beijing, China, where a barn structure was similar to one of the barns along the route.
“I find them fascinating,” Vicky said.
She said she is interested in biking because of the health benefits and to have a reason to go outside more.
“I like the fitness side of it and being outside in nature,” she said. “We’ve been riding a little bit, but this is our longest distance yet. We normally ride along the greenway in Muncie.”
Event organizer Joe Bradley said the club expected between 80 and 100 riders Saturday.
“That’s a pretty good number and is about average,” he said outside the registration booth. “We normally have 100 if the weather is nice, and it is today.”
The group hopes to raise between $1,500 and $2,000 through the event. That money will be used to award scholarships and support local groups like the Boy Scouts, athletic boosters, Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry and other organizations that improve the quality of life in the area.
“All of it will go right back into the community,” Bradley said.
He said about half participate in the lower mileage section of the ride, while the other half choose to go the longer distances. He said many of the long-distance riders are training for the Ride Across Indiana event, which is this week and is a 158-mile ride.
Bradley said the reason the group uses the ride to showcase the barns is so people will know how much more Jackson County has to offer.
“We want to show Jackson County’s assets, so we like to show off the last two standing round barns in Jackson County and of course the Medora Covered Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge in the United States,” he said. “That’s really neat, and we work with the visitor center to help promote this.”
Bradley said an overwhelming majority of riders are like the Reynards and live outside Jackson County.
“About 95 percent of the riders live outside the county,” he said. “That is probably the same this year.”
Many of the riders were from Bloomington, Indianapolis, Louisville, Fishers and even a couple from Missouri.
Bradley said the ride is popular and a tradition for many because of the beauty in Jackson County.
“Most people think of Indiana as a flat plains place, but we have a lot of nice rolling hills here, and people like the scenery,” he said. “The round barns and bridge are also interesting and really unique.”
The scenes and history have brought Katy and Ken Ratcliff of Bloomington back several times over the last 20 years. This year, the couple are training for a few upcoming rides that will cover a much larger distance.
They also are training for two bike tours in Canada and said having a ride locally will help them prepare.
“To have a ride that’s this distance close to home is helping us prepare for that ride,” said Katy, who recently wrapped up a weeklong ride in Ohio.
Biking is a hobby the couple participate in, and Katy said she really puts the miles on her bike.
“I generally put between 2,500 and 4,000 miles on my bike each year,” she said.