Steel Valley Bicycle Tour will raise funds for trail maintenance
The first anniversary of the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail is fast approaching.
It was last June when trail developers opened the last segment of the passage in West Homestead near Sandcastle water park and thus completed the 150-mile dedicated bicycle lane between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md.
But that occasion did not mark the end of trail planning, development or upkeep in the region.
It is with trail maintenance in mind that the Steel Valley Trail Council is planning a fundraising ride along the trail later this month.
The Steel Valley Bicycle Tour on April 26 is geared toward raising funds for upkeep of sections of the Great Allegheny Passage between West Homestead and McKeesport and the Clairton Connector Trail, which links the Great Allegheny Passage with the end point of the Montour Trail in Clairton.
George Schmidt, who is serving his first year as president of the Steel Valley Trail Council, said the idea for a fundraising tour was his and comes from previously being president of the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen. That cycling-oriented organization had several organized tours including the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen Fall Rally from North Park.
“We wanted to get this off the ground,” said Schmidt, who hopes the Steel Valley Bicycle Tour turns into an annual event.
“We have a handful of sponsors. We're going to do the best we can to pamper people at rest stops.”
The ride is $20 for cyclists who register before Sunday and $30 for those who register afterward up to the day of the tour, which begins at 8 a.m. at the Historic Pump House at the Waterfront.
The event will feature an option of ride destinations and distances from seven miles to a 24-mile ride to Clairton and back.
Last year, the Steel Valley Trail Council spent about $5,000 on trail maintenance projects, according to Schmidt. He said upkeep costs would have been a lot higher if the Regional Trail Commission had not provided about $10,000 for a project to repair a landslide along the trail below Kennywood Park.
Schmidt said concerns remain that sections of the trail below the amusement park still are prone to landslide damage.
While much of the upkeep costs are related to landscaping and grass cutting along the trail, Schmidt said there have been discussions regarding winter maintenance. The council received a number of complaints this winter from bike commuters complaining about snow removal along the trail.
Schmidt said the Steel Valley Trail Council is reaching out to businesses along the trail to let them know about the tour. He said Big Bang Bikes of West Mifflin, KU Resources in Duquesne and Aero Tech Designs of Coraopolis already have offered their support.
For more information or to register for the tour, visit www.steelvalleytrail.org online or call 412-521-1538.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.