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Fox Chapel

Fox Chapel Area students bike 150 miles along the Great Allegheny Passage

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 11:03 a.m.
A group of Fox Chapel Area students, teachers and parents celebrate a successful three-day bike trip from Maryland to Pittsburgh.
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A group of Fox Chapel Area students, teachers and parents celebrate a successful three-day bike trip from Maryland to Pittsburgh.

The Fox Chapel Area students who biked the Great Allegheny Passage through thunderstorms and sub-freezing conditions took pride in calling themselves “gappers.”

The trek was a show of physical and mental strength for the 15 students and adults who cycled from Cumberland, Md., to Point State Park on April 27-29, in what has become a tradition with district teacher Dave Battista.

“They performed admirably in less-than-desirable conditions,” said Battista, who has chaperoned the trip several times before.

Students who biked the path included juniors Isabella Boleng, Dante Difatta, Flora Gladwin, Hannah Higgins, Elizabeth Kaslewicz and Maggie Woodwell, freshman Ryan Kenyon and senior Nathan VanDemark. Teachers Laura Ward, Eric Norberg and Brandon Peiffer also went, along with some parents.

Battista said a bus transported the group to Maryland to start the trek, and a van hauled gear and equipment along the way.

The group biked 40 miles the first day, including an 1,800-foot climb over the Eastern Divide, only to arrive in camp in time for two thunderstorms, he said. The second day saw a 50-mile descent along the mountains with temperatures that dipped into the 20s.

“When we arrived at Point State Park on the third day, after pedaling 60 miles, the sun came out for our finish,” Battista said. “The accomplishment was no small feat.”

The group crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, wound through the Laurel Highlands and crossed Ohiopyle State Park. The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage allows riders to see valleys, mountains and three rivers that include the Casselman, Youghiogheny and Monongaleha.

Students who applied for the trip had to pass a 40-mile test ride this spring.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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