The Ride is an experience of a lifetime! I'd recommend this adventure for everyone's bucket list. It takes you through western Pennsylvania and eastward along the Youghiogheny and Potomac River towards Washington DC. The countryside viewed from a bicycle is spectacular.
Every detail of The Ride is meticulously well planned. Last year each rider received a courtesy duffel bag to pack essentials. Transportation was complimentary for all riders to the Start. Each evening a block of hotel rooms had been reserved so that all riders could sleep comfortably at night. High protein and carbohydrate breakfasts were provided. Plenty of planned check points were in place, where riders could recharge with snacks, re hydrate (Gatorade!), and enjoy conversation with the Volunteers supporting each check point. Dinners among the many riders were enjoyable. And for those of us who have families that were unable to go along for the Ride, our families were encouraged to greet us at the barbeque finale at Smoky Glen Farm. Kudos to all The Ride organizers for making this a truly memorable event.
While The Ride itself was memorable, the Cause is even more significant. All proceeds from The Ride go to support of Operation Second Chance, a local non-profit organization providing home renovations, fishing trips, bowling trips, hospital visits, etc. to our Country's wounded Soldiers returning home from active duty. I am indebted to all the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who have been wounded in the call of duty suffering gravely to protect my family and Freedom.
My fondest memory of RA2011 came during the last 100 yards of The Ride. Just before the finish line there was a wounded Veterans (who had lost his arm in battle) standing and saluting the riders. I've personally never served in the Military, so I've never experienced the honor of receiving a salute. And what an honor is was that this Soldier raised the only arm he had left in gratitude to me! Words can't describe my feeling in that moment. Time stood still and Patriotism overwhelmed me.
Thank you again to The Ride organizers, volunteers, bravest men and women in the Armed Services, Operation Second Chance, hotel staffs, restaurant staffs, bus driver, fellow riders, and Ride Allegheny, for making this such a wonderful time.
I have had the honor and pleasure of participating in The Ride Allegheny event several times over the last 10 years. My first experience on the ride was when it was friends and family and simply the pursuit of camaraderie and the challenge of pushing my athletic limits! After 911, after the world changed for all of us, the ride took on new meaning for the founders and the participants, by dedicating the ride to Operation Second Chance. The ride for me became a challenge for me to not only participate ,but gave me the motivation to ride for those who can not…for those who sacrifice their lives, family and pursuit of happiness so that we can live a life of freedom in the greatest country in the world…the United States of America.
The ride is one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on, and I have ridden bikes all over the world….I think the reason I love this ride so much is that it originates in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and takes me through the rolling hills of Western PA, evoking old memories all along the way. It is a ride through time, through many of the small towns left behind after the industrial era ceased to exist… their pristine yards, patriotic flags…reflecting a time gone by…but yet reflecting their love of country and pride of ownership….The people we meet along the way leave a mark on your heart and soul….they support the ride with enthusiasm, sometimes food, sometimes just a simple smile and wave to carry on….
The colors are changing along the way….the hills roll…and the water flows keeping you anxious to see the beauty around the next corner. New friends are made as you spend hours riding alongside one another for hours….The end of the ride brings a great sense of accomplishment and a feeling that you have truly done something for the good of others….for our service men and women who fight for us every day so that these rides through our beautiful country are possible. The finale of being met by our veterans is overwhelming….as we should be celebrating them and their arrivals back home every time they come home from service.…but yet they are the ones that continue to give of themselves….
I hope you will join us on the ride….it is a ride of a lifetime….a ride that will change your life forever!! Start riding NOW and you will be ready to ride in the fall!!!
The Ride of Your Life
As an honorary member of the original casting call and one of the few and proud that completed all 11 Ride Allegheny adventures I can truly say this event is a real “game changer”. From our pioneering start post 9/11 on the Clark Wagner Pittsburgh bridge to bridge tour, through the back to back RA survivor series when the freezing rain and mud felt more like a Navy Seal training camp and of course the last six years of making our ride meaningful to others by raising over $400K for Operation Second Chance and all the good work they do for our military heroes, “game changer” is really the only way to describe Ride Allegheny. Besides being a physical feat that impresses mere mortals the friendships and fun will leave permanent marks on your path in life. Over a decade of riding has produced an archive of legendary memories, nicknames and RA terms such as Cake Boy, Wing Ding, Sprouting Enigma, Rat Bastard’s Pass, Endorphin Pavilion and Black Footed Gasser that will live in infamy and make for great war story banter.
So sign up and get on board, Ride Allegheny will be the game changer you are looking for, I guarantee it!
Walt “The Kaiser” Ellenberger
As founder, I am compelled to testify as to what happened on the very first Ride Allegheny (RA1). I sat in my office at City Hall talking with some old bearded dude, who told me about a bike trail from Pittsburgh to DC. I was enthused about such a ride and began planning to do it in the fall of that year, it was Spring, 2001. So I put the word out in the local neighborhood paper, the Town Crier, looking for people to join me. Dave Baseheart was the first idiot to agree to come along.
A low budget web site was created where people could sign up to do the ride, which I named "Ride Allegheny". I got a few neighborhood friends, Dan Borten, Noble Diller and Chris O'Brien to sign up. Someone I did not really know at the time, Walt Ellenberger also signed up along with his dad, Wally Sr. Hmmm, who were these big German people I wondered? So it was seven of us scheduled to do that first ride. A few had bought train tickets on Amtrak for the ride to Pittsburgh. The ride departure date: September 12, 2001. Needless to say, when the dust settled after the 9/11 attacks, I emailed our small group that we would have to reschedule the ride since transportation was shut down that week. Plus we were all in a state of shock after the horrific events that occurred. A date was chosen in early October for the ride. Noble Diller dropped out due to a conflict with his wedding anniversary, which left our number at 6. The interesting thing is that Noble was featured in the Town Crier in a story about a few neighbors doing a long bike ride from Pittsburgh - he was quite proud if all the training he had done. Once in Pittsburgh, we stayed at the Priory Inn, an old nunnery in the downtown. This made the ride out of town a bit hairy, to say the least. We had no real directions for the trail, other than some sketchy information on the GAP web site.
We soon found out the trail was not complete - woops, my bad. We rode back and forth across the Monongahela River about 5 times looking for the trail and asking for directions. We finally got a local person who knew what he was talking about. We were directed to ride the roads to Boston, PA where we could pick up the trail. At one point we scaled a steep slope along the RR and Chris O'Brien fell into a hole up to his arm pits! I remember pulling him out as he gave me a few nasty words of frustration. We finally made it to a trail side snack bar for lunch, which s still there. We had a nice meal of hamburgers and ice cream cones. When we got to Ohiopyle, it was so late that the local restaurants had closed down. So we decided to buy food and cook it in the guest house we had rented.
The owner of the store (the same one we eat breakfast at every year) tried to sell us everything he had, like flash lights, camp stoves, rubber boots, etc. We cooked up a great spaghetti dinner with lots of bread and had a wonderful meal in the house. Unfortunately, we almost burned the house down when I left the strainer in the pot on the stove, which caught on fire and melted - woops, my bad! There are many, many great stories over the last 11 years, as our ride grew and became attached to Operation Second Chance and Cindy McGrew. What a great cause, and I really wish this great event continues to help so many of our great heroes who deserve so much more. See you on the trail.
RA 2012 was my inaugural ride and it was truly a fantastic 4-day journey that I’ll never forget. The amazing scenery, the wonderful people I met along the way, the team spirit and the fantastic cause, immediately made this a “must do” annual event for me. I was truly sad when it was over. My only regret is deliberating over it for so long (years) and missing out on the experience….but, I won’t’ miss out again. Give yourself a huge gift this year and join in.
Why do I ride? Because someone else decided to serve on the front. They picked up where I left off. They're serving the American public now. And they've come back physically and mentally injured, needing additional financial care and support to get back on their feet or to establish themselves after extensive rehabilitation. Uncle Sam doesn't pay for everything. Once a Warrior transitions out due to disability, their financial support is limited, yet they need financial support to continue receiving care. I ride to raise the funds and awareness to provide financial or other support for these Warriors and their families. You don't have to like the politics of war, but you have to support the men, women, and families who sacrifice their bodies and lives so we can remain free.
My part is easy. I sit on a bike and pedal. Some of our returning vets will be lucky to walk again. I'm dedicated to making sure our current generation is not left behind. Not left to wonder if they can keep the lights on. Not wonder if they can put food on the table.