Blue skies and sunshine greeted local residents on a mild July morning. As the sun steadily rose in the cloud-strewn sky, 25 cyclists mounted up on the Greater Allegheny Passage trail around 8 a.m. on Pittsburgh’s Southside and in West Newton, Pa., kicking off the inaugural “Ride for the Red - Steel Towns Trail Ride”.
Hosted by the American Red Cross units of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Chestnut Ridge, the event allowed riders to enjoy the trail through various historic locations along the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers, showcasing the area’s scenic beauty and proud heritage. The event raised nearly $15,000 for Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Greg Banchiere, the chief organizer of the event and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of Chestnut Ridge, was eager to make this a successful event. “This was a great cycling event along the GAP trail. We plan to hold it again next year to provide a wonderful way to support your local community through the American Red Cross, while enjoying one of our region’s greatest scenic assets,” he said.
The “Ride for the Red - Steel Towns Trail Ride” spanned 32 miles along the rivers and passed through historic steel towns such as Boston, McKeesport, Duquesne, Homestead, and the Waterfront. Riders could enter from either end of the trail and bike for any length of time, either resting at one of the refreshment and first aid stops at five-mile intervals, or completing the complete 64-mile round trip.
The money raised from the event will support the local American Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Funds will provide temporary lodging, and food, clothing and other supplies to families who are displaced by man-made and natural disasters.
Local businesses and organizations pitched in to support the event through sponsorships of the riders and donations of refreshments and bike maintenance services. Local business sponsors included Control Analytics, Inc., Dawood Engineering, Inc., Elliott Group, and UPS. Mile marker sponsors included Commercial Bank & Trust, Kunkel Law Firm, Pento Homecare Agency, Inc., Russ Blaho Allstate Insurance Agency, Scott Electric, The Ash Club, and Weaver Construction. The following companies provided in-kind donations: SUPERVALU (donated trail snacks), Aaron’s, Inc. and Pepsi-Cola Co. (donated bottled water) and Pro Bikes of Monroeville (supported bike repair crew).
A team of seven employees from the Elliott Group, located in Jeannette, Pa., entered to ride in the event as well. The group started from West Newton, led by Steve Wagner, a buyer for the Elliott Group. “We are pleased that our company was represented in the event. It is an important cause and we enjoyed a fun day,” he said.
Preparations are underway for the Seventh Annual Bike4Life, a five-day, 300-mile bicycle trip along the Greater Allegheny Passage from West Newton, Pa., to Washington, D.C. Led by Dave Mickley, the group will depart from West Newton on Monday, Aug. 3 and arrive in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Aug. 7. About a dozen riders are expected to participate this year. Since starting the event in 2009, Dave and his fellow riders have raised over $158,000 for American Red Cross Disaster Relief. For more information, visit www.arcbike4life.org.