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Saturday, August 16, 2008 -- Snowshoe, WV / Snowshoe Mountain Resort
Cheat Mountain Challenge (iPO Event Id#: 11225)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos]

"You know what is awesome? You guys are!"

Story by Ben Smith with intro and photos provided by Kim Broughton, Adventure Pursuit

Adventure Pursuit pic
Get your WOO-HOO! on
That is what we were told as we performed our volunteer duties at the Cheat Mountain Challenge road bike ride on the 16th of August. We had a blast. Entire families spent the day together volunteering and supporting a wonderful event in a beautiful place. None of this would have happened without the countless volunteer hours put in by our AmeriCorps*VISTA, Ben Smith, organizer. Thanks Ben!

We have some folks fired up to get on bikes and do the ride next year! Let us know if you would like to join our awesome volunteers and help these folks on their journey to their personal woo hoo.

Ben wrote the following article wrapping up the event.

The foundation responsible for the Cheat Mountain Challenge, West Virginia Cycling Foundation, also made Adventure Pursuit's program called "Riding to Snowshoe" possible through their financial support. Currently, Adventure Pursuit has a contract with the AmeriCorps VISTA program to bring physical activity programs into low income housing areas. One of these neighborhoods is Homecrest Manor in Parkersburg, WV, and we took three families from this location to experience Snowshoe, WV.

It all started 180 miles from Snowshoe, WV in Parkersburg,WV with three families, two drivers, one limo, and one beat up Accord. The drive was long, "Are we there yet?" asked galore, but the mountain air was so clean when we got there that, even though it was dark, it was a peaceful ending to a long car ride.

Adventure Pursuit pic
Tough enough to ride the long haul
The morning came quick, the alarm clock no longer our friend, but the site as we walked out of our rooms was absolutely amazing. There before us were miles and miles of mountains, so high that it was if the clouds were resting upon them. As we embarked onto our morning commute to the bottom of Snowshoe Mountain we were surrounded by riders heading their way down as well, to what would either be a 71 to 107 mile bike ride, helmets and all.

The kids, and adults for that matter, were in amazement to how many riders were there with their helmets on, expensive bikes, walking funny in their unique shoes, and ready to conquer mountains that many of us all could not even walk up without stopping for a breathe.

Craig Slaughter from the WV Cycling Foundation rounded up the riders, gave them the rundown to the days event, introduced our group, and the ride was set to begin. The families and supporters of the riders cheered their hearts out for them as they began their voyage throughout the beautiful Allegheny Mountains, and along with the Mountain State Wheelers, we were off to get our rest stops ready for the riders.

We made it to our rest stop, Little Laurel Mountain Scenic Overlook on the Highland Scenic Highway, and we began to wonder how we lucked out on getting this rest stop, thank you Wheelers for giving it to us! At that moment during the trip, the view trumped anything we had seen so far. The way the clouds looked just a hundred feet above us in the bright blue skies, and the sun beaming down on all the greenery below was something that will be hard to forget. Then in a moment, we were off to get things prepared for the upcoming riders.

Adventure Pursuit pic
Lots O Riders ready
The rest stop was broken down into its liquids, foods, and cleaning station while signs were being made to motivate and inform riders of our support and how many miles were remaining on their ride. The cleaning station was brought in order to cut down on waste from Styrofoam products and plastic cups; a zero-waste initiative called Step Up or Stay Home is something we strive to live by at Adventure Pursuit.

Children got all excited as the riders approached our rest stop, even to the point where they were practically begging them to fill up their water bottles. They even gave a few riders their version of a hula dance while they were in their grass skirts. One rider was amazed how they started off at the bottom of the mountain in WV and ended up in Hawaii.

As the final rider proclaimed we had seen all the riders for our rest stop in the mountains of Hawaii it was almost a sense of sadness and joy to see our duty come to an end. We packed up and headed back to our other group of volunteers at the Welcome Center rest stop. We all cheered on the riders remaining as we passed them on the road leading up to their final stop before the tough climb of Snowshoe Mountain.

When we arrived to the Welcome Center, led by executive director-in-training MJ Khoury, we were greeted by the sounds of cowbells, tambourines, and the look of a luau party. The stop was extremely festive, and the remaining riders looked like they sincerely enjoyed all it had to offer, including its shade before the last killer climb.

Adventure Pursuit pic
A great day to be outside for a ride
After the final rider left the stop, cleanup began as evening was approaching. Volunteers were asked what they enjoyed most about the day.

The Mackey girls liked just about everything about it except, "The only thing I would change for next year would be that I would have flowers everywhere," said Messina Mackey, 9. As for 6-year-old Tayla Mackey, "I liked the little square things that were on the bikes that told them how far they went." The evening quickly approached us, which meant it was time to grill out with the Mountain State Wheelers lead by Dan Neal, and a breathtaking sunset topped off the end to an awesome day.

The final day of our voyage was brought to us by Paul and Kim Broughton as they led a mountain bike outing, while others went down to the lake to enjoy the paddle boats. The kids that went with us on the mountain bike outing had never ridden on bikes that expensive or comfortable. Lessons were given on how to shift, brake properly, and drinking plenty of water, by the end of the trip they seemed to have it down quite well, and wanted to do it more often when they got back home.

The trip back home was grander than the trip to Snowshoe because this time we got to enjoy all the great scenery in the daylight instead of at night. You could have not asked for better weather for the entire weekend.

Even though they were finally home 180 miles later in Parkersburg, WV they missed Snowshoe. "I hope to ride next year." said Tony Frieson, 12.

A neighborhood resident Treasa Mackey summed up the trip best, "I liked it, I loved it, and I want some more of it!"