Riders on Rails-to-Trails adventure make stop in Dunbar
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is sponsoring a sojourn across the country.
On Monday and Tuesday, participants stopped in Dunbar.
“We're doing this to have fun. We're doing this to have an experience and we are doing this to make an impression on the communities,” said Tom Sexton, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy of the Northeast Regional director. “We want to help to establish trail towns. We want the people from the communities to see us all and say ‘I get it.'”
Two hundred seventy bicycle enthusiasts from all over the country are taking part in the seven-day ride.
On Sunday, the group stayed in Rockwood. They traveled the 2.1 mile stretch of the Sheepskin trail then camped in Dunbar. They are heading out on Wednesday.
The sojourn will take its riders 192 miles from Cumberland, Md., to Coraopolis.
“We have riders here today from 43 different states,” Sexton said. There are an additional 12 volunteers who come along to help.
Sexton discussed plans for the Sheepskin Trail extension that will one day link the Great Allegheny Passage to the Mon-River Trails system.
“When the 32 miles to Point Marion are completed to link to the Mon-River Trails system it will complete over 500 miles of a continuous trail, and there is nothing like it in the country,” said Sexton.
Many of the riders on the trip have been on previous rides.
Mary Bernardine Torrez is enjoying her third trip.
“It's been a lot of fun,” Torrez of Cranberry said. “We've seen a lot, it's really scenic and everyone so far has been really friendly.”
Marko Zaninovich of Bakersfield, Calif., is on his first trip with the group. He said it will not be his last.
“I have really been enjoying this,” Zaninovich said. “I like the sounds of the birds, the scenery and the tree lines. I recommend this trip highly and I will be back next year.”
Donna Holdorf, Historic National Road Corridor executive director, discussed the importance of the trails for exercise and economics.
Holdorf spoke of how trail users are environmentally conscious and instrumental in promoting better health.
“Trail users are people who care about the land, who are stewards of the environment,” Holdorf said, adding trail usage creates opportunities for towns and municipalities along the way to prosper. “People make choices, and we want them to choose here.”
Those camping in the borough on Tuesday were treated to a historic slide show, a bonfire and an authentic ethnic meal prepared by residents of the community.
“This is the first time that they have stayed here, and it's been amazing,” said Tammy Nedrow, Dunbar Borough secretary. “There isn't very many businesses here in Dunbar but they have all been busy. This group was very supportive of our community and it's been unbelievable.”
Holdorf asked members of the sojourn to contact local and state representatives to encourage more funding for trails and trail town growth.
“Write letters, be voices,” Holdorf said. “Reach out to your congressmen in D.C. and tell them that the transportation department needs to restore funding for trails. Get the word out. We have a lot of coordination that has to happen but we have a good start.”
Marilyn Forbes is a Trib Total Media contributing writer.