WHEELING - Participants in this Memorial Day Weekend's Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour who pause at one of several rest stops along the way will be able to get a cold drink of water, enjoy some fresh fruit - and meet one of the biggest supporters of the Ohio Valley's nationally recognized trail system.
That would be Ruby Greathouse, president of the Brooke Pioneer Trail Association, who will be stationed near the Ohio/Brooke County line during the seventh-annual event, which is organized by the Ohio Valley Trail Partners. The non-competitive tour set for May 26 features three rides of varying lengths - 10 miles, 30 miles and 100-km (62 miles) - providing something for everyone from the beginner to the more ambitious cyclist.
The Brooke County group's tent will be located near Short Creek Road, near where participants in the 100K ride leave the trail for a loop through West Liberty and Bethany and 30-mile riders turn around to return to Heritage Port. There, riders will be able to take a break, get a cold drink of water, enjoy some fresh fruit and use one of several portable restroom facilities.
MAKING PLANS — Attending an Ohio Valley Trail Partners meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour are, from left, Wheeling Councilman Robert “Herk” Henry, Brooke Pioneer Trail Association President Ruby Greathouse, OVTP Treasurer Valerie Reed and OVTP President Doug Wayt. -- Ian Hicks
"Very important, because that's such a long haul - and there are not always trees that are big enough to go behind, shall we say," Greathouse noted.
Greathouse, a Wellsburg resident, has worked tirelessly for many years to link the area's trail system - including the Wheeling Heritage, Brooke Pioneer and Yankee trails - with a network of connected trails through Pennsylvania and Maryland that lead all the way to Washington, D.C. Today, the only break in the chain is a stretch from the north end of Wellsburg to the western terminus of the Panhandle Trail in Weirton, which Greathouse's group eventually hopes to close.
It's not unusual to see Greathouse hard at work along the Brooke Pioneer Trail, hedge clippers or even hatchet in hand, making sure riders don't have to duck low-hanging tree limbs in their path.
"I've been known to go ahead and attack the darn thing," she said.
Ohio Valley Trail Partners President Doug Wayt said the trail tour's purpose is twofold. It's a way to showcase the area's trail system, but also to encourage more people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
"We attribute much of our success to Brooke Pioneer's and Ruby Greathouse's efforts to make it a success," Wayt said. "It just shows how well we can work together as trail supporters."
Wayt said he's expecting as many as 400 riders from eight to 10 states for the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, which drew 325 participants last year - a significant growth from 76 at the inaugural event in 2007.
On tour day, participants in the 100-km ride will leave Heritage Port at 8 a.m., followed by 30-mile riders at 8:45 a.m. and 10-mile riders shortly thereafter. Upon completing their respective courses, riders will be able to have lunch and enjoy live entertainment at Heritage Port.
One thing returning veterans of the event may notice this year is the addition of lighting inside the Hempfield Tunnel - better known locally as Tunnel Green. No longer will organizers have to light the way through the old railroad tunnel using portable lanterns and golf cart headlights, Wayt said.
For more information about the trail tour, call the Quick Service Bicycle Shop at 740-635-3700 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A registration form is also available by visiting the Ohio Valley Trail Partners' Facebook page.