Cumberland Times-News


May 20, 2007

Queen City ready for Sojourners

At least 500 bicyclists to camp in city on June 27

CUMBERLAND — Bill Atkinson doesn’t blink an eye when he says the Queen City will be ready when 500 people literally roll into Cumberland this summer.

“The opportunity to showcase what we have is tremendous,” he said.

Months into preparations, it’s now down to a matter of weeks.

The cyclists are participants in the sixth annual Greenway Sojourn, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy event, from June 23-30. With the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage, the group chose this trail, coupled with the C&O; Canal towpath, as this year’s eight-day venture.

“This is what the trail is all about; it’s what it is,” Atkinson, vice president of the Great Allegheny Passage — Maryland board, said. “These are the type of people we want to see come through here, spending money in our businesses.”

The ride will be on what the conservancy is calling the “longest multipurpose trail in the nation” and will take riders from Washington to Pittsburgh. At 335 miles — 185 miles on the towpath and 150 on the passage — this will be the group’s longest trip to date. Riders average 40 to 45 miles per day and as part of the journey, camp at various towns along the way.

Cumberland has been selected for the June 27 overnighter where the group will camp at the Crescent Lawn festival grounds of Canal Place. Those 500 people will be fed dinner here and then breakfast at the Frostburg Depot with their $700-per-adult fee covering that expense.

The evening before, the cyclists will be in Little Orleans and will have lunch in Oldtown before arriving here.

Atkinson said event planners have been coordinating with the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce’s tourism group, Canal Place, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Ed Mullaney, manager of the city’s Town Centre, to name a few.

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