CUMBERLAND — City council member Nicole Wagoner will participate in a 335-mile bicycle journey from Washington to Pittsburgh to promote area trails and physical fitness.
In addition to her council post, Wagoner is the director of sales for Fairfield Inn and Suites and president of Mountain Maryland Trails, a nonprofit organization that helps raise awareness about the trails and works with the county to provide maintenance and improve amenities.
The first leg of the journey will cover the 185 miles of the C&O Canal Towpath from Washington to Cumberland. The second leg, 150 miles, will be on the Great Allegheny Passage beginning in Cumberland and ending at Point State Park in Pittsburgh.
“My friends have been on me to do it,” said Wagoner.
Five other friends, who are also advocates for the trail and make the journey annually, will ride with Wagoner on the six-day journey that is set to begin Sept. 6.
“I finally told my friends, OK, I’ll do it. But it’s not just going to do it in vain. It’s going to be to promote it and create awareness and inspire someone to get on the trail,” said Wagoner.
Wagoner said people can be in any shape to enjoy the trails and the disabled can use them as well.
The journey Wagoner’s group will undertake will require it to cover about 60 miles per day.
“I’m conditioning. I’m riding almost every day. I’m not in shape by any means,” said Wagoner.
John Sherman, the general manager for the Courtyard by Marriott in Washington, Pa., is one of the riders taking part in the journey.
“Nicole knows what the trails do for the hotel (Fairfield Inn) and the community. She wants to give back,” said Sherman.
Wagoner, 35, from Fort Ashby, W.Va., wants to take part in the journey for three reasons.
She wants to promote the trail and raise awareness about the economic impact it has on the area. Another reason is to show that anyone, at any fitness level, can enjoy the trail. The third reason is to raise money for Mountain Maryland Trails.
“All of us have mountain bikes with a bag rack to hold our stuff,” said Sherman.
He said the ride is definitely a challenge.
“You have the fatigue and the mental strain as well. You have to dig deep. You don’t have a choice; you have to keep going,” said Sherman.
Concord Hotels is the management company for, and part owner of, the Fairfield Inn, Wagoner’s employer. She said her employers has been instrumental in helping her become involved in the bike ride and other charitable activities.
“They have been great. They really encourage us to give back and get involved in your community,” said Wagoner.
Another inspiration, even closer to heart, has had a big impact on Wagoner.
“About two years ago, my father passed away suddenly,”
Wagoner lost her father in a tragic ice fishing accident.
“That was the most shocking event of my life. It shook me to my core. That is when I became present in my life,”
She said the loss made her become much more engaged and proactive with life.
“It’s kind of for him you know. It was difficult. But that is when I decided to take my life to the next level,” she said.
Wagoner plans to use Facebook to update those interested throughout the experience. She also invites anyone who wants to ride along at any place along the journey, to feel free to join in.
More information on the Wagoner’s trip can be seen at NicoleInspires.com. Donations, with all proceeds going to Mountain Maryland Trails, can be made through the website.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.