This post is written by Mary Martineau, Marketing Director for the North Market. You can follow the North Market on Twitter @NorthMarket. postcard_front

In 2009 I was introduced to a kindred spirit, Jill Moorhead, Director of Marketing for The Hills Market. We share a passion for helping small, independent, locally owned businesses, our markets are located at opposite ends of the Olentangy River Greenway (aka “the bike path”) and we both like to create events reflective of our respective markets. We brainstormed over coffees at the Cup O’ Joe in Clintonville one summer afternoon, mulling over the possibilities of co-branding an event. We think we came up with a doozy as the first Market to Market Bicycle Adventure was born and launched in October 2009. It has become a semi-annual event with a ride in May and again in October to bookend the casual bike riding season.

The basic premise is this: feed people breakfast at both markets and send them up (or down) the bike path to the market at the opposite end of the trail. Every rider is issued a “passport” and they can get it stamped along the way by organizations stationed along the trail like Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, Wexner Center for the Arts and more. When you arrive at your destination market you are greeted with a drawstring backpack full of discounts and goodies from North Market, The Hills Market and participating organizations. Your passport has a coupon for a free scoop of Jeni’s Ice Creams to reward you for your travel. Both markets have additional activities to entertain you before you trek back to your market of origin: local food tastings, live music, a farmer’s market, a photo booth and more! The round trip is about 26 miles along the winding, lovely and not-too-strenuous Olentangy River Trail.

Always on the lookout for ways to make the ride more entertaining (for us and the participants), in October 2011 we instituted our first theme: Zombies vs. Pirates! Our riders responded so enthusiastically that we have had a new theme for every ride since. May 2012 was “Mustaches and Monocles” (in honor of the Columbus Bicentennial), October 2012 was “Wizard of Oz” replete with Dorothys and Tin Men and bike riding Flying Monkeys. For the May 4 ride we bring you “Clippers and Crew: a Celebration of Spring and Sports in Columbus”! All of our riders are encouraged to grab their favorite local team garb and hit the trail with us!

Market to Market will be held on Sat., May 4. Pre-registration is available online in advance for $20. Very limited registration will be available at the door for $25. Registration includes breakfast, a scoop of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (at either location), an event t-shirt and a drawstring backpack filled with goodies and coupons from both locations with up to $50 worth of savings on Ohio foods. Breakfast will be served at both markets from 8- 10 a.m. to allow for riders to eat and set out on the trail at their leisure. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will be available at both locations upon ride completion.