Biking: Montour Trail gets new connection, and it's a hit

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To hear the owners tell it, the name of The Tandem Connection at Milepost 27 along the Montour Trail was a natural.

"The tandem bridges, the tandem [owners], the tandem 'ghost bicycle' just down the trail all led toward that becoming our name," said Seth Fosmire of Houston.

Fosmire and his wife, Laurie, said their partners, Dave and Lori Poe of South Fayette came up with the name for the century-old former coal company store at 5 Georgetown Road in Hendersonville. It's now a 9 a.m. to dusk full-service bike shop -- sales, service, rentals and storage -- with a cafe component.

The store, just off the Southpointe exit of Interstate 79, was an "island" until the "Can Do, Will Do" Montour Trail Council completed work on two bridges that carry the trail over Georgetown and Morganza roads.

That prompted the Fosmires and Poes, frequent trail users, to talk about what might be done with the store.

The Fosmires described themselves as longtime sales and marketing pros.

David Poe owns and operates David's Video Creations.

Lori Poe, a registered dietician with a master's degree in nutrition, is the coach of the boys and girls cross-country and track team at Chartiers Valley High School.

When banks didn't appear to understand the concept of a bike shop and cafe along an easily accessible trail used by hundreds of people a day, Montour Trail Council president Ned Williams suggested they call The Progress Fund.

The fund encourages and supports trailside business development as part of its Trail Town Program initiative.

"The Progress Fund got it," Seth said.

"They understood what we want to accomplish and they understood the potential of what this is going to be."

"It was a no-brainer for us," said David Kahley, president and chief executive officer of the fund. "Seth, Laurie, Dave and Lori are great people.

"We're pleased to be working with them."

The fund loaned the couples $289,000, an amount that included $26,000 in Pennsylvania Small Business Credit Initiative funds from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

That provided the bulk of the $340,000 in capital that launched The Tandem Connection.

Although the couples bought the solid, vinyl-covered three-story frame building Aug. 31 and opened the next day, they held their grand opening last weekend.

They also receive income from three apartments on the second floor.

While the Fosmires and Poes staffed the cash register, ice cream counter and rental bikes last weekend, Roadside Ribs employees sold chicken and pulled pork sandwiches and baby back ribs hot off the outside grill.

One of the most popular attractions proved to be The Rainbow Express, which was the creation of Lou and Sandy Caley of Cecil.

They used plywood and metal to convert a John Deere lawn tractor into a black snub-nosed locomotive complete with a smokestack and cow-catcher.

The locomotive pulled colorful open cars converted from large oil barrels that were linked together and equipped with rubber wheels.

Jessica and Martin Cumba Jr. of Canonsburg, who run on the trail, watched daughters Amira, 1 1/2 and Eva, 4, enjoy the train ride on the front gravel parking lot.

Stefanie Brown, who walks, runs and bikes on the trail, took photos of her daughter, Aurora, 2 1/2, as she passed by.

"I couldn't wait until they finished those bridges to open more of the trail," Stefanie said. "I was over here in a heartbeat.

"And this is terrific," she said, referring to The Tandem Connection.

Information: www.tandemconnection.com; 724-745-2453.

mobilehome - outdoors

Larry Walsh, who writes about recreational bicycling for the Post-Gazette, will host a Spring Bicycle Tune Up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 at the Post-Gazette. Details at www.post-gazette.com/pgu.


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