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Tour de tacks
by Tom Boyle

Annual Greenway Sojourn cycling event purposefully interrupted when carpet tacks cause a rash of blown tires


The Ed Myer Complex was alive with activity on Monday as dozens of people unloaded trucks, set up tents and got cleaned up after a long bicycle ride.

The Greenway Sojourn arrived in Titusville on Monday afternoon, after having left Erie on Saturday. The fifth annual sojourn will bring hundreds of bicycle tourists to the Allegheny River Valley by the time the trip concludes on Thursday in Cabot, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh.

But the journey was interrupted when about 150 of the cyclists had their tires flattened Monady by small carpet tacks which were purposefully spread on the road ahead of the cyclists. According to Corry-based state police, the case of criminal mischief occurred along an old railroad bed between SR 89 and Gynden Road, Sparta Township, Crawford County.

Troopers list the victim as being Clear Lake Authority and said the incident took place as unknown person(s) deposited the tacks in an attempt to sabotage the ride.

The sojourn is an event celebrating open rail-trails and rallying support for future development of additional mileage. This year’s trip is called “Three Rivers to One Great Lake,” and highlights the 200-mile Lake Erie to Pittsburgh Rail-Trail.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a non-profit organization with more than 100,000 members and supporters, is the nation’s largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.

Tom Sexton, RTC northeast regional office director, said many people went out of their way to help the bicycle riders after their tires were punctured by the tacks. “The townspeople were really great to us,” said Sexton. “They were giving us rides in their vans, putting our bikes in the trunks of their vehicles.”

Sexton said the group was forced to return to Sparta Township to pick up some of the riders who were left behind in a rented van. Sexton also said a couple of area bicycle shops were coming in with personnel to help with getting the bikes fixed. Several of the riders still had the tacks that had punctured their bikes, and expressed concern about animals getting hurt on the tacks which were still left on the railroad bed.

Although many of the cyclists came into the city later than expected because of the flattened tires, spirits were high as the cyclists set up camp for the evening.

Gabrielle Ferrigno from New Jersey said her grandfather had gone on the first Sojourn three years ago and she had decided to get involved with the Sojourn last year. “It is well worth going on,” said Ferrigno. “The people on the trip are really nice.” Her friend, Gemma Navarro, said although the long ride had been hard at times, it had also been fun. “I’d like to come back next year,” she commented.

A participant, who asked to be identified by his nickname “Bobbert,” said this was his third sojourn. He said except for the tacks, he was having a good time.

Today the cyclists will travel to Franklin, where they will enjoy seveal activities, including a tour of the DeBence Antique Music World. Late in the afternoon a refreshment was set up on the complex grounds, as the cyclists got ready for an evening in Titusville. The group had been invited to Titusville’s weekly Concert in the Park and some of the sojourners had plans to stop by the Four Sons Brewery. “If it doesn’t rain out, things will be OK,” said Sexton. “Tomorrow morning, our people should be in better spirits.”

Authorities ask that anyone with information about the spreading of the tacks call State Police Corry at (800) 922-1975.

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