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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour Series will Feature Unique Combination of Cycling and History

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is introducing a new multi-year series of bike rides that will feature a unique combination of cycling and history.

All events benefit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, and are intended to raise awareness of the Schuylkill River Trail and the region’s fascinating history. The Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour Series will debut this fall with the Rails and River Towns Ride, which will take place on September 22 along the Pottstown to Birdsboro section of the trail.

The Rails and River Towns Ride will include a presentation on the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad, upon whose right-of-way the trail is partly built. Participants can opt to take a guided walking tour of Birdsboro or a tour of Historic Morlatton Village’s four 18th Century buildings. Three ride options are available totaling 20, 18 and 9 miles.

The Rails and River Towns Ride will be the first of three annual rides in the new bike tour series. Also being planned is a 2013 Cycles and Cemeteries Ride that will take participants along the trail from Norristown to East Falls, with stops at two cemeteries where Civil War generals are buried - Montgomery County Cemetery and Laurel Hill Cemetery .

The final ride planned is the 2014 National Parks of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Ride, which will feature a two-day ride that will take cyclists to three national parks: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Valley Forge National Historical Park and Independence National Historical Park.

“As a National Heritage Area, one of our goals is to use recreation as a vehicle to encourage people to value the heritage of the Schuylkill River Region. As such, our signature project is building and promoting the Schuylkill River Trail,” said Kurt Zwikl, executive director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. “This bike tour series is a natural extension of our work along the trail, because it enables us to connect people to historic sites and heritage towns via the trail.”

The trail also has an economic impact on the communities it touches, and the bike tour series seeks to foster that by bringing participants into towns along the trail.

The Rails and River Towns Ride will begin at Riverfront Park in Pottstown following a brief presentation on the Pennsylvania Railroad by regional trail history expert Bob Thomas. Riders can elect to participate in one of three ride options, including an 18-mile round-trip ride with a 45-minute guided walking tour of historic Birdsboro, also presented by Thomas.

Participants who prefer not to take the walking tour can opt instead to take a 20-mile round-trip ride from Pottstown to Birdsboro that includes a loop trail through the Union Township Recreation Area.

A final option being offered is a 4.5-mile ride (nine miles round-trip) to Historic Morlatton Village in Douglassville. Guides will be on-site to provide tours of the village’s four 18th century buildings, including Berks County ’s oldest home, the Mouns Jones house.

Cost is $25 per person, $20 members, and $15 children ages 11-15. Children 10 & under free. Cost increases by $5 after September 5.

Refreshments will be provided in Pottstown and Birdsboro. Free T-shirts are given to all who register by September 5. Ride support and complimentary pre-ride bicycle safety checks will be provided by TriCounty Bicycles, of Pottstown . Helmets are required. Due to the width of the trail, no bicycle trailers will be permitted.
To learn more or register visit www.schuylkillriver.org.

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