LEWISBURG — Kelly Catale spent close to 8 hours on her mountain bike riding 120 miles on mostly gravel trails in the hills of Union County.
Catale, 29, from Pepperill, Massachusetts, was the women’s winner in that event in Sunday’s unPaved cycling event.
“It was definitely very grueling,” said Catale, a 2012 Bucknell University grad who was then Kelly Desharnais. “It took a lot of grit to get through that race. I was in a dark place a couple times but was able to kind of rally at the end.”
The event turned out bigger that last year’s inaugural unPaved, drawing close to 1,000 riders from 32 states, including one from from Alaska, for races over 54, 90 and 120 miles and a 30-mile FUNpaved ride, all starting at the Miller Center for Recreation and Wellness.
Andrew J. Miller, executive director, Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau, estimated at least 1,600 people, including riders, their companions and other visitors, descended on Lewisburg for unPaved.
One of the event organizers, Dave Pryor, said about 800 riders were signed up for the three unPaved races.
“The first year we had 600 riders,” said Pryor, of Emmaus.
He said another 100, approximately, rode in the 30-mile FUNpaved ride.
Rider Jesse Keenan, 42, of Elkins Park, outside of Philadelphia, originally signed up for the 120-mile event but then decided on Sunday to ride in the 90-mile instead. He ended up doing the 54.
“I wasn’t ready for the hills I was climbing,” said Keenan, who has run trail marathons in Central Pennsylvania, such as the Hyner Trail Challenge in Clinton County and a trail race at World’s End State Park in Sullivan County. “It was fun to experience (the area) on a bike.”
He said he would have to train more on the bike for next year’s unPaved.
The other organizer, Mike Kuhn, of Marysville, said 300 were in the 120-mile race alone. He was excited about the overall turnout.
“We’re here today with about 1,000 cyclists and visitors, or more, from 32 different states in town to ride out of Lewisburg, over to Mifflinburg and out into the surrounding countryside of Bald Eagle State Forest,” Kuhn said. “I’m a proud graduate of Bucknell University and so excited to be able to share this area with everybody who’s come in.”
Miller said representatives of the event stakeholders — the visitors bureau, Lewisburg Children’s Museum, Walk It! Bike It! Lewisburg, Lewisburg Downtown Partnership and organizers Kuhn and Pryor — met monthly prior to this year’s event.
“We knew people from 32 states were coming to our area,” Miller said. “We knew it had the potential to be something really great. Everything happened today exactly as we envisioned it. It was a labor of love.”
He said a visitor from Cleveland was surprised the event was only in its second year.
“He said, ‘You don’t see this the second year, you see this in the 10th year,’” Miller said. “That meant the world to me.”
He estimated that, conservatively, the event would generate $730,000 in consumer spending in the area.
The unPaved races capped a weekend of events in Lewisburg.
The Lewisburg Downtown Partnership moved its annual Fall Festival back one week to coincide with unPAved, and unPaved event sponsor Salsa Cycles hosted a film festival at the Campus Theatre.
An un(G)raveled pub crawl through Lewisburg was on tap for Friday evening at 5, the same time Lewisburg Children’s Museum kicked off its drop-off childcare.
Walk It! Bike It! also was scheduled to host a ride to area covered bridges and a greasy spoon lunch along the Susquehanna River.
To finish off the day on Sunday, a DONEpaved Celebration was set from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Miller Center Courtyard with food and Rusty Rail Brewing beverages.