Trail cyclists pedal through Lewistown

9/11 Memorial bike path being tested

LEWISTOWN – A group of bicyclists pedaled their way through Lewistown Wednesday afternoon to complete a test ride for a new Sept. 11 memorial.

While a memorial is usually a statue or structure, the Sept. 11 National Memorial Trail is a biking and hiking trail connecting the three memorial sites of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: the Pentagon Memorial, the Flight 93 National Memorial and the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum.

The creators of this memorial, the 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance, began this project on Sept. 13, 2001.

“For some, traveling the 9/11 National Memorial Trail will be a pilgrimage or … a family stroll,” the Alliance says. “For everyone, it will be a journey of hope and remembrance, honoring the resilience and perseverance we have as a country.”

The trail connecting the three sites is approximately 1,300 miles with about half being off-road.

“The concept of this trail is that with a generation after 9/11, the remembrance will start to fade,” rider Anne Maleady said. “This is a living memorial to keep the memory vibrant and to celebrate the lives lost and those still living.”

Eric Brenner said the round trip will take 23 days with the group traveling anywhere from 45 to 70 miles per day. Wednesday was the eighth day of travel.

On Wednesday, the Alliance biked from Huntingdon to Mifflintown.

“We are still working on the route with double checking and corrections,” Maleady explained. “For example, today we encountered a nine percent grade that lasted one-and-a-half miles. Now we can make a route that goes around that slope.”

Jenny Landis, director of the Juniata Valley Visitor’s Bureau, and Lewistown Mayor Deb Bargo met and welcomed the Alliance bikers at Victory Park.

“The development of the trail will be terrific for the area,” Landis said. “We need to reach out and embrace this project and welcome visitors to the soon-to-be trail town, as well as honor the 9/11 memorial.”

A new section of trail will be established from Victory Park to Crystal Springs Avenue, which is about three quarters of a mile. The construction will take place beginning at the end of May.

“I’d like to recognize the tremendous efforts … for this tow path project that connects us to the 9/11 National Memorial Trail,” Bargo said.

The Alliance bikers are working their way through all 1,300 miles of the trail, but Brenner said people do not have to complete the entire trail to experience the memorial.

“There are easy sections,” he said. “Anyone can do it. Some parts are tough, but Sept. 11 was a tough day, too.”

Brenner said he has started to meet people that do not quite remember details of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

“This is a positive, living memorial,” he said. “Support from towns has been great.”

As far as biking on roads, Maleady said the group has not encountered any aggressive or rude drivers.

The trail map will be updated after the 23-day ride is completed.

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“This memorial brings three sites together as one,” Alliance Chair Andy Hamilton said. “Just like all 50 states come together as one.”