Tour de Mon takes riders through valley's heritage

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Here is a chance to learn local history, go shopping and exercise -- all at once.

The Tour de Mon, a bike ride of varying distance, is set for Oct. 6 starting at the Historic Pump House in Munhall and following the Steel Valley Trail. Cyclists can choose from a 5-mile Family Fun Ride, a 10-mile ride to Duquesne, a 20-mile ride to McKeesport or a 30-mile ride to Boston in Elizabeth Township and back.

Tickets are $25; $15 for age 18 and under; $60 for a family. Proceeds benefit the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce.

Cyclists also can take advantage of the Community Heritage Market at the Historic Pump House, where local vendors will sell farm produce, crafts and other items.

The Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, the nonprofit that owns and operates the Pump House and Heritage Market, and the Steel Valley Trail Council for the event.

Chamber president Maury Burgwin said the ride was first held last year after a group decided it wanted to host an event that would show local residents the amenities of the Mon Valley and utilize the Steel Valley Trail.

"There are such fantastic stories of history along the trail starting with the Pump House," Mr. Burgwin noted. "The trail passes by the old steel mills, through battlefields and through areas where there was a strong Indian presence."

The trail follows the shores of the Monongahela River and is part of the 335-mile path from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

"This is a snippet of one of the longest, contiguous rides in the country," Mr. Burgwin said. The trail has interpretive signs to help riders learn more about the heritage and industry of the area.

Mark Urbassik, chairman of the chamber's board of directors and a cyclist himself, was one of the ride's original organizers.

"It is a good way to raise awareness about our area ... and about the chamber," he said. "We really want to get people out on the trail, especially families."

Last year's ride attracted about 100, despite rain and cool temperatures.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed for better weather this year," laughed Mr. Burgwin.


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Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer:


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