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Bicycling: Locals help riders with flat problems

Friday, July 22, 2005

By Larry Walsh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bicyclists carry a variety of things on a road trip in case of a breakdown.

But a 3-pound roofers' magnet isn't among them.

The magnet, used to clear driveways and lawns of nails, pieces of flashing and other sharp objects, would have come in handy Monday along an old railroad right-of-way between State Route 89 and Gynden Road in Sparta Township, Crawford County.

State trooper Daniel Rexford's report explains what happened: "Actor[s] arrived at the above location and deposited small tacks in an attempt to sabotage a bicycle ride. There were numerous bicyclists that rode over the tacks and sustained damage to their tires."

How many of the more than 300 bicyclists participating in the Fourth Annual Pennsylvania Greenway Sojourn got flat tires?

About 150, said Katie Magers of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D. C., which is sponsoring the six-day ride. The riders were en route to Titusville when their tires were flattened by an unknown number of carpet tacks. Fortunately, everyone was able to keep their bikes under control when the punctures occurred. No one was injured.

Tom Sexton, director of the Northeast Regional Office of the RTC, said local residents went out of their way to help the stranded sojourners. They transported the riders and their bikes. "They were really great," Sexton said.

That's also an apt adjective for the local and regional bicycle shops who sent bike mechanics to Titusville to repair the flats.

The organizers of the 200-mile trail and road trip, which I wrote about last Friday, hope the rest of the trip will be flat free. The riders are scheduled to arrive today in Cabot in Butler County.

For more information about the RTC and the Greenway Sojourn, visit www.railtrails.org or call 717-238-1717.

Anyone with information about the trail sabotage is asked to call the state police toll free at 800-922-1975. That includes anyone who sold a large number of carpet tacks in recent weeks.

If the jerk(s) who did this are arrested, tried and convicted, I have a suggestion for a suitable punishment. Give them a roofers magnet and make them walk the length of the affected trail.

In their bare feet.

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