By Caitlin Stoner, Daily American
Campers Azarias Woldomichale, Benjamin Hawley, Darius Keon Tucker, Ian Emiroglu, Mark Anthony Gilham, Oscar Armando Villarroel Beato, Samuel Prudencio and Shae Dempsey with trip leaders Leah Fantle, Rachael Mossey and Sage Raindancer at the Meyersdale Trailhead of the Great Allegheny Passage on Friday. Steven Kobus, (second from right) of Rock City Shuttles, Rockwood, transported the group and their equipment to Meyersdale Friday morning.
Phoenix Bikes is a nonprofit bike shop located in Arlington, Virginia, that teaches youth about bike fundamentals and how to repair them as part of mentoring programs. The group from the Washington, D.C., area made a trip to ride the Great Allegheny Passage this week.
“We were originally supposed to start in Pittsburgh and complete the entire trail,” trip leader Leah Fantle said Friday of the stormy weather this week. “We ended up starting in Connellsville and plan to finish in Cumberland (Maryland.)”
Although their trip was cut in half, all were still in high spirits and enjoying their experience biking and camping.
“For most of them this is their first time camping and also their first time visiting Pennsylvania,” Fantle said.
The group of young teens refurbishes bicycles that are donated to the shop. Most of the campers were riding bikes that they had repaired themselves. The group finished the trail Friday in Cumberland and shuttled back to Arlington to end their trip.
“Doug Riegner of the Allegheny Trail Alliance organized the shuttles and put everything together for us,” Fantle said.
“He was disappointed we had to cut our trip short due to the weather so he did what he could to make sure we could finish the trip.”
Seen here at Stewart's Crossing, campground in Connellsville, (far right) Meg Rapelye, Executive Director of Phoenix Bikes poses with the youth before driving back to Va.
The group’s shuttle was provided by Rock City Shuttles, a bike shuttle business in Rockwood. The shuttle, driven by Steven Kobus, transported the entire group and their equipment to Meyersdale from Confluence. Fantle said they plan to return next year with an even bigger group and hope to complete the entire trail. From Cumberland, the trail goes 150 miles to Pittsburgh. The portion from Cumberland south to Washington, D.C., is called the C&O Canal Towpath.