Biking: Festival planned for July 4-8
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No matter what the sport, participating is easier with some instruction and guidance.
Mountain biking is no exception. The Third Annual Allegheny County Parks Mountain Bike Festival from July 4-8 offers a good introduction to the sport.
With the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group (PTAG) and the Allegheny County parks department as hosts, the festival will offer a variety of rides -- and ride levels -- in Boyce Park, Hartwood Acres, North Park and South Park.
It also will sponsor a ride in the Bavington game lands near the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Washington County.
For beginners, it's a good time to ride the trails with others of similar abilities. For intermediates, it's an occasion to sample trails they haven't ridden. And for experts, it's an opportunity to introduce newcomers to the sport and/or enjoy the trails with other top riders.
Mike Connors of McCandless, festival organizer and PTAG board member, said southwestern Pennsylvania has some of the best trails in the nation. In addition to the parks listed above, he cited Deer Lakes, Frick, Harrison Hills, Riverview, Schenley and Settler's Cabin.
"The 'wow' factor comes into play with the first-timers," he said. "They're always surprised by the number of mountain bike trails in our local parks. There are 30 miles of single track trails in North Park alone."
PTAG was founded in 2001 by David Biber, Nancy Trun, Danielle Conway and Don Olson to help local park managers build and maintain trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.
Connors said the festival is an ideal time to meet other mountain bikers and become better acquainted with the county parks. He said 400 people participated in the event last year.
In addition to a knobby-tired mountain bike in good working order, participants should bring a helmet, water "and enough energy to ride two hours of hills, roots and rocks."
Here are the dates, times, locations, hosts and their contact information:
• noon Friday, South Park skating rink parking lot, John Hinderliter, 412-897-2065, email@example.com.
• noon Saturday, North Park pool/McCandless shelter, Mike Connors, 724-934-9293; firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your own beverage and a dish to share.
• noon Sunday, Bavington at the old airplane field, Dave Biber, 412-298-4308, email@example.com. Bring your own beverage and a dish to share at an off-site party.
• 6 p.m. Monday, Boyce Park soccer fields/Pack shelter, Barry Jeffries, 412-977-3217, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, Hartwood by the school on Middle Road, Maurice Tierney, 412-302-9070, email@example.com.
For more information about the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group and detailed directions to each location, go to www.ptagtrails.com. For up-to-the-minute information on area trails provided by the Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists, click on Forums on the PTAG Web site.
Finish line festivities
If you'd like to ride your bike Downtown tomorrow to watch the participants of the Tour of Pennsylvania complete the last stage of their 420 mile ride from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Bike Pittsburgh will provide "a free, safe and secure" place to check it with a bike valet from 2 to 7 p.m. at Fourth Avenue and Stanwix Street.
There will be space for 300 bikes, which is first come, first served. The finish line is two blocks away, at the corner of Stanwix and the Boulevard of the Allies.
Drive to the parking lots on Herr's Island, South Side Riverfront Park or the lot just off Second Avenue in Greenfield, and ride the trail into town. A map of the lots and Tour of Pennsylvania activities can be downloaded from Bike Pittsburgh's Web site:
For more information on the festival, visit www.highmarkhealthyhigh5.org.
First Published June 28, 2008 12:00 am