Washington, D.C. Bike Trip
This May, a group of Geneva College students and staff will get on their bicycles and pedal from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., travelling roughly 340 miles over a six-day period. The trip, offered through the Office of Student Development, aims to provide student leadership development combined with adventure education set in a Christian community environment.
During the journey, students will be presented a variety of leadership concepts and lessons each day by the Student Development staff, which they will then discuss while cycling on the trail. According to Dean of Student Development and trip coordinator Dr. Mike Loomis, the goal of the trek is to "inspire students to take on leadership positions throughout their time at Geneva and beyond."
The group will leave from McKeesport, PA on Wednesday, May 11, biking on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath. The route runs through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, ending in Washington, D.C, and uses former rail lines converted into bike trails by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The Great Allegheny Passage is the longest rail trail in the eastern United States and offers views of a number of historical, geological and architectural marvels.
"On the trip, we travel through gorgeous countryside and see the C&O Canal, old buildings and charming little towns," says Dr. Loomis. "We also meet members of the cycling community on the way. On the trail, everyone′s friendly."
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization whose mission "is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines…connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people." Founded in 1986, the conservancy has transformed nearly 20,000 miles of railroad into bike trails that are used by tens of millions of people each year.
The Geneva group will travel between 45-75 miles most days, with one centennial ride (100 miles in a day) scheduled mid-trip. A van carrying food and supplies accompanies the group and each night they camp, have dinner and discusses the day′s adventures
"We've included the centennial ride because it is considered a milestone for cyclists," explains Dr. Loomis. "While this may seem daunting, we learned last year that, with some training, this is very doable."
Once in D.C., the group will tour a variety of sites including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol Building and more. Then, all participants will be loaded into the van for the ride back to Pittsburgh, during which they can rest and reflect on the lessons they learned during the trip.
The Washington, D.C. Bike Trip is one of many activities designed by the Office of Student Development to foster the leadership skills of Geneva students through recreational opportunities. And in only its second year, the program′s success is evident. "The response has been great," states Dr. Loomis. "The trip attracts all sorts of students who didn't know each other before, but become friends by the end of the ride, and there are lots of opportunities along the way for leadership lessons."