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Bike tour is family adventure

June 21, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

by MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer

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Bike Virginia cycling tour

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Given his son's interest in cycling, Martinsburg, W.Va., resident David Blythe said he immediately thought about making the annual Bike Virginia cycling tour a father-son venture when he heard it might pass through Berkeley County.

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"About every five years I do something crazy, so I talked him into coming up to do this with me," said Blythe, 60, who as director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau had a hand in attracting the event to the county.

The timing of the five-day tour was just a lucky coincidence, said father and son, readying to hit the showers after a sweaty ride from Winchester, Va., to the Shepherd College campus Sunday.

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"It was a nice bonus to be out together on Father's Day. It's nice it fell during the trip," said Brent Blythe, 36, of Atlanta, who got into the sport about five years ago.

Because of the distance between them, the two said they don't get to see each other very often.

"It's a great opportunity to spend some time with him," David Blythe said.

The Blythes were two of an estimated 1,700 bicyclists who pedaled into the Eastern Panhandle Sunday morning during the second leg of the five-leg trek, said Allen Turnbull, director of the nonprofit Bicycling Education Association in Williamsburg, Va., which sponsors the event.

In its 11th year, the event changes routes every year but generally lasts five days, each averaging 50 to 60 miles of riding, Turnbull said.

Not a race, the Bike Virginia tour is designed to be doable by families and people new to the sport, he said.

Its goals are to introduce people to cycling, to provide a fun, educational ride, to teach participants about bicycling safety and to raise money to promote safe biking and buy bike helmets for children, Turnbull said.

This year's Civil War-themed cycling tour started Saturday in Warrenton, Va., and ends there on Wednesday, he said.

Sunday's leg of the trip included a morning stop in Gerrardstown, W.Va., lunch at Caperton Station in Martinsburg, an optional climb up North Mountain and a participant talent show in Shepherdstown.

The Shepherd College campus was opened up to participants, who were given the option of camping on campus during a two-night stop in Shepherdstown, Turnbull said.

Cyclists can choose from four routes to and from Antietam National Battlefield today, he said.

While the majority of the participants came from out of the area, the Blythes were joined by other homegrown riders.

Shepherdstown resident Don Faber, 43, spent Father's Day peddling a tandem bicycle with his 8-year-old son, Jesse.

"I kind of enjoy pushing a 180-pound body up the hill. I enjoy getting exercise," said Jesse Faber, getting ready to leave the Martinsburg train station with his father, mother and sister Sunday afternoon.

It was the first cycling tour for the family, who started riding together about a month ago, said Don Faber, who was recommended to the Bike Virginia tour by a friend.

"For us, it's a real challenge," he said.

"I've enjoyed it. It's tiring," said daughter Stephanie Faber, 14.

Faber and his wife, Pam Faber, 47, said they really liked the Civil War theme of the tour and participating together as a family.

"We're having a ball," Don Faber said.

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