This week, Charles Owen gets to combine two of his passions: trees and bikes.
Owen will be biking 585 miles in seven days as part of the STIHL Tour des Trees.
“It just kind of made sense,” said Owen, who is the city’s arborist and horticulturist and an avid bicyclist.
The event, which is in its 20th year, raises money for the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund. The money goes to research, scholarships and other education programs, Owen said.
Each rider was expected to raise $3,500 each. Team Ohio—made up of Owen and five other residents from across the state—set a goal of raising $25,000 this year. All of the donations go toward the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund, as corporate sponsors like chain-saw manufacturer STIHL pay for costs for the event.
Owen took part in the Tour des Trees in the late ‘90s, but scheduling conflicts have prevented him from participating in recent years. This year, it just all worked out. He’s been training by biking to work from his home in Parma Heights—about 30 miles for a round trip—and making longer trips on the weekends.
This is Owen’s first trip to Oregon, where the event will be held this year. The location changes annually. The ride will begin on Aug. 5 and end on Aug. 11. Most days will include about 80 to 105 miles of cycling, and Owen said the riders stop to plant trees and lead educational programs along the way. The ride’s website includes information on the final day, a shorter event called the “Ride for Research” that allows people to take part for one day.
Team Ohio is still accepting donations, and anyone interested can follow the cyclists’ journey on the STIHL Tour des Trees’ website.