Larry Walsh on biking: Round-trip, 22-mile ride to help feed families

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The Bike to Feed Families ride, a unique way of helping to stock the shelves of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, will be held July 12.

Organizer Amy Camp said bicyclists of all ages and cycling abilities are welcome and should be "ready to ride" at 10 a.m. at South Side Riverfront Park. The 22-mile round-trip ride to the food bank in Duquesne uses the "generally flat" Great Allegheny Passage.

Camp said that in addition to helping families in need, the event offers participants an opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the trail as they pedal through Sandcastle, over busy railroad tracks and past a plunging Kennywood Park roller coaster.

Food Bank employees and volunteers will greet the bicyclists at the warehouse dock and offer them water, fresh fruit and energy bars while their bikes, handlebar baskets, backpacks and trailers are unloaded. Warehouse tours will be available in the 30-minute break.

Camp, a certified life coach and community builder, said she started the ride as a way to link two of her passions -- fighting hunger/food insecurity and the great outdoors. And she knew the bike trail led right to the Food Bank.

"I was convinced the bike-riding community could do something that had never been done before -- a food drive delivered by bike. It's unique, it's fun, it raises awareness and it saves the Food Bank from having to come and collect the donated food," she said. "We are bringing it all to them."

The most needed items include: high-fiber cereal, canned beans, canned salmon and tuna in water, canned vegetables, diapers and toilet paper.

"Participants shouldn't bring anything in glass," she said. "We're encouraging riders to self-organize food drives leading up to next Saturday's ride."

Camp said bicyclists can solicit food items in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and/or places of worship.

Prefer a lighter load? Collect some checks, including one of your own, made payable to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Camp said the Food Bank is able to generate $5 in food for every $1 donated.

The previous Bike to Feed Families rides, one in 2012 and two in 2013, attracted several dozen bicyclists.

Information: www.Facebook.com/biketofeedfamilies; amyrcamp@gmail; amy@cycleforward.org; 412-918-6563.

Diner ready to reopen July 9

Jeremy Hoover, co-owner of The Morguen Toole Company in Meyersdale, a favorite dining and overnight stop for bicyclists riding the Great Allegheny Passage, said it will reopen Wednesday.

Parts of the four-story red brick building sustained smoke and water damage recently from a stubborn arson fire that destroyed an 80-year-old condemned building next door.

More than 100 volunteer firefighters from 15 Pennsylvania and Maryland fire departments, working through the night, used 1 million gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.

The fire, which caused an estimated $160,000 in damage, was deliberately set, according to Pennsylvania Fire Marshal Scott Kovach.

Hoover said the firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to his building. "Lots of wonderful people are working hard to get us back up and running," he told The New Republic newspaper in Meyersdale. "We are touched and grateful to live in such an awesome, caring community."

Information: www.morguentoole.com.

Biking the Fourth

Spaces at many of the parking lots bordering the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md., were at a premium Friday as bicyclists, including many families, worked up an appetite for their holiday picnics by biking segments of the trail.

The weather also was premium -- sunshine, blue skies, temperatures in the mid-70s -- and the crushed limestone trail from Boston to Cumberland was in great shape.

Information: www.GAPtrail.org.

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


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