WHEELING - Ohio Valley Trail Partners President Doug Wayt believes the success of events like The Sixth Annual Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, held May 27, will continue to promote wellness and encourage additional trail development in the Northern Panhandle.
Wayt said the local bicycle tour, which brought hundreds of bicyclists from at least seven states together in Wheeling, is being deemed a total success. He said funds raised from the event will be used to support local trails.
Riders were able to sign up for three different tours during the bicycle event that started and ended at Wheeling's Heritage Port. The 100K tour took riders from Heritage Port along the trail to Bethany College, Wellsburg and back, while the 10- and 25-mile tours kept cyclists on Heritage Trail the entire time.
Hundreds of bicyclists participate in the the Sixth Annual Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, held May 27.
"We had the largest turnout yet - over 300," said Wayt, noting the oldest rider was a 92-year-old man from the Wheeling area, while the youngest was 7 years old.
Wayt said the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour continues to grow every year, and it gets a tremendous amount of feedback from tour participants.
"It was very positive stuff saying, 'We want to come back next year,'" said Wayt. "We had a group from Pittsburgh ... calling it 'the Cadillac event of our region.'"
He said he would like to acknowledge the Ohio Valley Trail Partners worked in coordination with its "sister group to the north," the Brooke Pioneer Trail Association, throughout the event.
"We had tons of food, and we had some great sponsors," he added.
Wayt said the Ohio Valley Trail Partners has two projects members are concerned with locally. He said they hope to get new lights inside the tunnel near the Tunnel Green section of the bike trail in Wheeling - and they are continuing to work to save the Aetnaville Bridge.
"Right now that's going to be our link to get our riders safely away from vehicles and into Ohio. ... Our overall goal is to be able to get from Washington, D.C., to Wheeling and west into Ohio," said Wayt, who said the West Virginia Department of Highways has plans to demolish the bridge.
Also, Wayt said once a 7-mile stretch is interconnected in Brooke County, it will be the longest rail-to-trail system in America. He said from Washington, D.C., to Wheeling, the trail will be about 430 miles long.
"We are hoping to connect more communities," said Wayt, who contends the continued development of a quality trail system is a great way to create more tourism for the area. He said the more people who get on the trails, the more it will benefit communities.