This report from Nick Hein is actually very touching. What stood out from it for me and fully drives home how our Mayors' Rides are making a difference out where it matters most, where the rubber hits the road with the every day unsung cyclist, were these words, 'the best vacation of my life and also one of the best life experiences of any kind'. You see Nick did far more than ride through some challenging circumstance. He got the whole city of Morgantown, WV, excited about cycling.
He spoke at service clubs, he wrote press releases, he marshalled together riders as well as attendees to both bless their journey and welcome them from it, etc, etc.. He was a man on fire so one can easily see that he fully 'earned the best vacation of his life' and as he is the first to point out, the whole exercise was a tremendous growing experience for him thus adding meaning to the words, 'and also one of the best life experiences of any kind'.
WoW - THX 4 U Nick. Like Troy and Concetrta, U R truly one awesome individual! Not to mention the fact that you write fun and interesting stories:
Our Morgantown NBG Ceremony and Mayor's ride was a resounding success. A total of 4 riders made the complete journey from Morgantown to Pittsburgh (the last section on the Pittsburgh trolley - due to absence of safe bike routes for last 10 miles). The riders were Nick Hein, Jonathan Rosenbaum,
Don Spencer and Rich Martin. All are excellent road riders in excellent shape. Don and Rich are particularly impressive for their age and vitality. We started the ride in the rain, but it gradually diminished and conditions improved - by the time we reached the South suburbs of Pittsburgh the clouds had parted, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. I'll be giving a more complete route report at a future date. At Thompsonville we got on the Montour Trail to Bethel Park where we boarded the trolley and rode to
Station Square where we met the 2 DC-Pitt riders (Troy and Concetta) for dinner. Everyone became quick friends and the dinner was enjoyable beyond words.
Troy left with his family and Concetta went back to her lodgings, while the Morgantown contingent (except for Don who went back with his daughter) rode across town to Carnegie-Mellon University where we would be staying in the dorms. From the restaurant we picked up a bike trail right away through the
river valley, then turned North to the ridgetop suburb (Oakland) to get to CMU. Being tired we had a few calamities trying to find the way but were safe in bed by 11:30.
On Saturday morning we rode down to the "strip" for breakfast, then to the Venture Outdoors waterfront festival. This was an all-day exhibition of outdoor sports of all kinds with vendors for region-wide sports activities. We were introduced to Mayor Tom Murphy (an avid runner and biker) who gave us the royal treatment - reading the Pittsburgh proclamation, introducing us to the crowd at the festival, feeding us and talking bikes.
In fact the Mayor first offered to host Morgantown's mayor for a ride around the Pittsburgh trails, and then asked if I could recommend a good 4-day trail vacation that he could take with his family. I suggested that he come to Morgantown and ride the trails I'm recommending as part of the Greenway.
We were driven home by Rich and his wife, returning safe and inspired about 4:00 pm to Morgantown. We'd become such fast friends that I couldn't believe we'd met only about 24 hours before! When I got home I looked for news coverage of the events. There is a good write up in the Uniontown paper
(although most of it was about completing the Sheepskin trail rather than NBG). I'm writing to the Morgantown paper to offer to write their article. I haven't heard anything about the TV coverage.
Just a little editorial commentary to wrap this up. The places I've seen in the last week have made this the best vacation of my life and also one of the best life experiences of any kind. From travelling with my son, seeing historic sites, making new bike friends and exploring nature the way bikes make possible - all this has filled my heart and soul to their fullest and I'll be back at work with a smile on my face tomorrow.
I'll send the rest of the pictures as soon as I can get them organized. Til then, thanks Martin for making it possible for the bright sparks that I've met on this journey to get together and ignite a fire for better bicycle travel.
Talked to Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy;s Sr Aide. Ro Fischer, today, and wow did she gives us a great interview. Long time readers have seen me talk a lot about Ro in these pages,. Do now I giving you her voice:
As well, there is now a picture of her at our schedule:
See also http://www.bikeroute.com/NationalMayorsRide2005/2005East-West.html
complete with a link to the above Podcast.......
It doesn't sound like Nick had it any easier than Troy's group as he detoured off the DC to Pittsburgh trails and made his way to Morgantown, WV and the festivities he has set up there:
I just read Troy's latest update. Here's mine, starting from where I "bolted" from Meyersdale. Well, I wouldn't really call it bolting. From the Meyersdale station I started out casually, stopping to get pictures
taken by some other bikers who were also starting an early ride. It was a perfect clear, crisp morning so I couldn't bring myself to hurry. The trail soon crosses a valley on a mile-long bridge (Salisbury Viaduct) with wind turbines in the background. The trail surface is a bit soft for the tires I have, so from that and stopping to take pictures every few minutes it took me a good while to make progress. I finally arrived in Confluence around lunch, stopped in to visit people I had met while there last year, had lunch, took a nap and was on my way again.
At this point I left the Allegheny Highlands Trail for the road that goes directly back to Morgantown. "Directly" in Southern PA or WV is a relative concept. If anyone else is considering this route please be aware that there are MONSTER climbs on this route and most riders would consider them grueling. They are high, steep and don't allow for roller-coastering. For that reason Tour De France riders have proclaimed WV hills the toughest in the world. I almost got Concetta to come with me when I told her this - she loves a challenge. Much of the later section of the ride is along a ridge top with surrounding farms. This reminded me greatly of my hometowns in Southern Wisconsin.
The only unpleasantness of the trip came near the end. There is a section where the road becomes steep winding gravel - unsafe for riding with a full tour-loaded bike. The only alternative is to ride down the Interstate for 4 miles, but the entrance ramp declares in clear terms that bicycles are not allowed. I called the state patrol to find out if I could get permission or to see it they would escort me down. They said no and were unapologetic.
The man I spoke with also said I would be breaking the law if I were to ride it. This is clearly an illegal condition when no safe route exists for bicycles to get through when cars can. I'll be following up on this. I made my way down safely by WALKING the most treacherous parts. In these sections there was a climb so steep it was impossible to ride.
I arrived home at 6:30 tonite, Wednesday, to be greeted by my family, and finish preparations for Friday's Morgantown NBG Day/Bike to Work day. I'll see the Pittsburgh riders on Saturday. We have about 6 riders pedaling from Morgantown to Pittsburgh, arriving downtown around 5PM on Friday. Carnegie-Mellon University will be putting us up at Hostel rates. They hope to encourage more summer bike tourists to stay there during Summer when students are gone.
Happy trails, roads and paths,