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Cyclists turn out for Tour de PATH

Bike race
Oct. 13, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- More than 100 bicyclists took to the streets -- and trails -- of Huntington on Saturday for the fourth annual Tour de Path.

The growth of the event, which featured guided, family-friendly ride options of four, seven 10 and 20 miles, shows that a cycling culture has taken root in Huntington, organizers said.

"More and more people are wanting to ride and support cycling," said Bethany Williams, a program coordinator for the Rahall Transportation Institute. "It's an exciting change happening in Huntington."

A lot of that change, Williams said, has occurred simultaneously with development of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health, a cycling and walking trail that aims to link all of the city's parks and major employers. PATH is named after Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was a promising young physician whose life ended Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Ambrose focused his medical career on family health and using preventative medicine to fight obesity.

The first phase of PATH began this year and is almost complete. Trail sections in Guyandotte and Harveytown are finished, and a trail on top of the earthen levee from 3rd Street West to Westmoreland is almost done. The rides during Tour de Path used those sections.

"It's given people new places to ride, but it's also helped people become a little more comfortable with riding on the road since the trail sections are not connected just yet," Williams said.

Commuter bike maps of Huntington also were unveiled during Tour de PATH and distributed to all of the participants. Copies also will be made available at Jeff's Bike Shop, 740 6th Ave., and at Huntington Cycle and Sport, 1455 4th Ave. Both bike shops made donations to print the maps.

Carrie-Meghan and Harold Blanco were among the cyclists who went on the 20-mile ride Saturday. Carrie-Meghan Blanco said the trail system has made cycling more visible in the community.

"It's brought awareness to the fact that we need a safe place to ride," she said. "Cycling is free, healthy and fun. You can't beat that."

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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