ELYRIA — The number of stops depends on the route.
But no matter how far you pedal, you can still enjoy wine from some of the best wineries in the state.
Whether you’re a competitive cyclist or a leisure rider, the 12th annual Dog Days Wine Tour has something to offer everyone with five different routes offering up to seven stops, including four wineries and a cider house.
Riders can choose from 37 miles, 45 miles, 65 miles, 100 miles or 125 miles.
All riders will visit Matus Winery in Wakeman. If you go just a bit farther, you also will be able to enjoy Vermilion Valley Vineyards. The three longest routes will be able to visit Redhead Ciderhouse, at Burnham Orchards, which offers both hard and soft cider.
New this year on the tour is D&D Smith Winery LLC in Norwalk and Paper Moon Vineyards in Vermilion.
An avid rider could easily cover the 125-mile trek, which includes all four wineries and the cider house. While a novice could travel the 37-mile route, and still enjoy a rest at Matus Winery.
“The 37 miles is more for those just getting into cycling,” said Dog Days coordinator Scott Edmundson. “The other routes are for those all the way up to competitive riders.”
But it’s typically not a whole family affair.
“We get single riders and groups from other cycling clubs around the state,” Edmundson said. “Sometimes we get a family — a husband, wife and adult son or daughter.”
But the tour is definitely for adults.
“A young child would have trouble even with the shortest route,” Edmundson said.
The event is a fundraiser for the Silver Wheels Cycling Club, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The club uses funds from the wine tour to support its activities and also to make donations to local bike advocacy organizations, such as Firelands Rails to Trails Inc., Bike Elyria, Friends of Metro Parks in Lorain County, League of American Bicyclists and Oberlin Community Services, which distributes bikes within the community.
The wine tour usually draws about 400 riders, but if the weather is right, Rob Hipskind, director of the Silver Wheels Cycling Club, knows that number will climb to nearly 500.
“We offer a ride through the quiet countryside,” Hipskind said. “There is not a lot of downtown traffic or noise, and you get to stop off and enjoy the scenery at some beautiful wineries. And if you buy wine, we haul it back for you.”
In addition to the winery stops, there also are fully stocked rest stops for riders to rehydrate and re-energize.
Cyclists also enjoy dinner with the cost of registration. The meal includes grilled and marinated chicken breasts, grilled hot dogs, or a vegetarian burger, baked beans, corn on the cob, salad and dessert provided by Pierre’s ice cream.
A popular event, the wine tour promises bigger things in 2019.
“We have something coming in 2019,” Edmundson teased. “We are making some major changes to improve our ride and improve the effect and atmosphere for the rider.”
The changes have been in the planning stages since last year, and while Edmundson could not say more, 2019 should be an intriguing year for cyclists.
Silver Wheels Cycling Club, a nonprofit organization, has more than 350 members in the area.