Biking: Bicyclists are thrilled by Great Allegheny Passage's new leg

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There's catsup anticipation, child-like anticipation and bicyclist anticipation.

An example of the latter involved bicyclists riding the freshly paved section of the Great Allegheny Passage through the Sandcastle Waterpark before the asphalt was completely compacted.

They pedaled around heavy equipment whose operators had enough to do without worrying about trespassers and engaged the contractor's employees in when-is-it-going-to-be-finished conversation. In short, were holding up work.

The contractor had to call for security guards to prevent bicyclists from entering the work site from the Waterfront and the Baldwin borough segment of the trail.

In honor of "Bike to Work Day" yesterday, Linda McKenna Boxx, the president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, announced the completion of the final mile -- 0.8 of a mile through Sandcastle and 0.2 of a mile through Keystone Metals -- of the 150-mile passage from Point State Park to Cumberland, Md.

Bicyclists, who had been closely monitoring the progress of the work, saddled up to ride the newest -- and final -- mile of what is known as the Steel Valley Trail segment of the passage. It cost $1.3 million. See story today.

Thursday afternoon, Alliance Treasurer Paul g Wiegman posted the passage's completion on Facebook. Within 24 hours, the post reached 32,480 people, 621 took the time to "Like" the post, 297 shared the announcement with someone else and 72 people commented. With few exceptions, the comments were congratulatory.

The exceptions complained about the gate at Haysglen Street.

Boxx said the gate was designed "to stop cyclists before crossing the street [into Sandcastle]. Big, heavy trucks [entering and leaving Keystone Metals] use that street and cannot stop on a dime. We want our trail-users to be safe and respect this dangerous crossing."

She said that section of trail would not have been completed without the help of Keystone Metals.

"Their cooperation saved us millions of dollars that we just didn't have. They gave us additional property that made this project affordable. We are asking cyclists to show their appreciation by respecting the stop signs and proceeding carefully through the intersection."


River & Wind Challenge

After riding the now completed Steel Valley Trail segment of the Great Allegheny Passage from West Homestead near the Glenwood Bridge to McKeesport, Holly Beckner invites bicyclists to participate in the annual River & Wind Challenge June 1 along the passage in southern Somerset County.

Beckner, director of The Salvation Army's Somerset Service Center, said the challenge offers a metric century (62.5-mile) roundtrip ride from Confluence to Meyersdale and a 22-mile roundtrip from Confluence to Ohiopyle. Proceeds from the $60 registration fee aid families who need help with medications, housing, utility assistance and recovery services after fires and other disasters. The rider who raises the most additional money from sponsors will receive a Kindle Fire.

The ride includes rest stops in Rockwood, lunch in Meyersdale at noon and dinner beginning at 3 p.m. in the Community Center in Confluence. Those riding to Ohiopyle will have lunch at 11 a.m. in the town park in Confluence, snacks in Ohiopyle and dinner in the Community Center.

Beckner said riders will depart for Meyersdale between 7 and 8 a.m. Those pedaling to Ohiopyle will leave at noon.

Information:; email; 1-814-445-9232.

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Larry Walsh writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette.


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