Cyclists gathered at Vernon Elementary School to ride in the 30th Tour de Ranch. [CONTRIBUTED]

Dozens of cyclists could be seen over the weekend in Washington and Holmes Counties during the 30th anniversary run of the Tour de Ranch.

The name Tour de Ranch is a play on the Tour de France but instead of being in the French countryside, it is ridden through rural farm areas. The event began in 1990 under the Panama City Cycling Club, but due to hurricanes and the pandemic, the ride has had some delays. When the ride began to falter in attendance and the absolving of PC Cycling, Hammer Down Multisport picked up the torch and has kept it going since. 

Hammer Down Multisport is a non-profit organization out of Bay County that presented each teacher at Vernon Elementary School with a gift certificate as a way to show their appreciation for the use of the campus to start and end the ride.

The ride is a bicycling event held on the paved, dirt and gravel roads with four routes ranging from beginner to advanced. There are also several different bike categories including, mountain, gravel, road and the newly added E-bike.

Cyclists had a choice of four routes: a 62-mile paved, 32-mile paved, 60-mile dirt and 30-mile gravel and dirt. 

The rides began and ended at Vernon Elementary School on April 29 and took riders through older communities such as Orange Hill, Hinson Crossroads, Wausau, New Hope, Sunny Hills and Holmes Creek. Sites such as the historic Moss Hill Methodist Church and Falling Waters State Park were along the routes. Cyclists from all over Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina were able to experience the beauty of Washington and Holmes Counties.

Ride Co-Coordinator Joe Fritz says, “The 62-mile paved route is a good tune-up ride for the half Ironman Triathlon being held in two weeks in Panama City Beach.†

Safety is the top priority for the event. 

“We want cyclists and drivers to exist together in safety,†Fritz said. “Having respect for each other means we all make it to our destinations safely.â€

For more information on the ride, contact Joe Fritz at 850-814-8447, by email at [email protected] or [email protected], or find them on Facebook at Tour de Ranch.