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 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
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
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
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.