Cadence Youth Cycling and Rails-to-Trails organized a bicycling and camping trip along the Circuit, youth athletes adults, adults and mechanics traveled 118 miles over Labor Day Weekend.
The Sojourn began at Fairmount Water Works on Saturday, September 5th at 8am. 12 youth and 8 adults attended. They had 3 mechanics and 2 SAG support drivers. Rails-To-Trails youth engagement coordinator Tom McKeon worked alongside youth athletes to plan out the education programming.
Students and chaperones biked up the Schuylkill River Trail and stopped at East Falls Bridge for the first student-run lesson: What is a Watershed?
They continued to Manayunk Canal for the second lesson, Are Canals Good for the Environment?, before heading up to Phoenixville. Taking a detour off the Schuylkill River Trail, the cyclists traveled north to Black Rock Sanctuary.
There, lunch was served and the group had an opportunity to sit down and learn about Black Rock Sanctuary’s history from a park ranger. Afterwards, the group continued to French Creek State Park travelling a total of 58 miles and even tackling a 2-mile incline at an average grade of 5%.
At French Creek State Park, the group set up their tents, enjoyed a catered dinner from Valentino’s and relaxed with board games and sports.
The next morning, the group enjoyed the park’s facilities. Everyone had an opportunity to either rowboat or swim. After lunch they set out towards Marsh Creek State Park to enjoy the scenic view and create haikus about the sojourn, circuit and watersheds.
“One thing that’s unique about this trip is that the planning and execution involved our youth leaders,” says Cy Maramangalam, Cadence Youth Cycling Program Manager. “The idea started when the CYC Youth Advisory Committee returned from the Youth Bike Summit in February and were inspired to incorporate a bicycle tour in Cadence Programming. A project team called the “Tour Team” was created, and they worked closely with Tom in planning the route and camp sites.”
The second day concluded at Saint Peters Church of the Great Valley. The church sits on 16 acres of land, including a cemetery, labyrinth and sheep. During the evening, everyone enjoyed roasting marshmallows on a campfire, stargazing and sharing stories. Many slept out in the open air.
The next morning the group biked towards Valley Forge. At Valley Forge, youth learned about benthic macro invertebrates and green infrastructure through interactive activities at a stream. They cycled towards the SRT and took it home to conclude with cake at Fairmount Water Works.
“The trip was an incredible success and incredibly fun,” continues Maramangalam. “Not only were our CYC youth able to go places they’ve never gone before, but they were also able to lead discussions in watershed education, experience the true breadth of the Circuit, and it’s potential once complete.”