Cyclists favor county's byways

May 30, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

Dick Cushwa remembers the bicycle he had as a 14 year old - a black Montgomery Ward Hercules three-speed.

Years later, Cushwa, 61, still is riding. Now he sits atop a specialized racing bike - a road bike - logging 100 to 150 miles a week in good weather, spring through fall, and whatever he can work in during the winter.

Cushwa is president of Cumberland Valley Cycling Club, an organization of about 80 members celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

A member since about 1984, Cushwa started riding again for exercise and because he enjoys biking.

"Washington County has some of the best biking there is anywhere," Cushwa says. The roads and terrain are good, and the traffic is low, he says.

JoEllen Allenberg agrees. CVCC secretary, Allenberg has been a member since 1988. Although she likes the views in the valley near Smithsburg, Allenberg doesn't really have a favorite place to ride. "That's the nice part of Washington County," she says, talking about the variety of good local routes available.


The club offers 20- to 30-mile rides several times a week. The rides are rated according to ability level. Riding 17 mph or more is considered an "A" pace. A "D" pace is a little more leisurely, at 10 to 12 mph.

The slate of scheduled rides is published in the club's newsletter - something available to members with their membership fees of $8 for an individual or $11 for a family. Ride information also is available on the club's Web site at

Saturday morning rides - 20 miles on the C&O Canal or the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail from Big Pool to Hancock - are suitable for all ability levels. Another 8 to 9 miles of Rail Trail will open in June, says Tom Palmer of Fort Frederick State Park.

Cushwa enjoys riding with other people. So does Allenberg, who met her husband in the cycling club.

Members get together - without bicycles - for dinner in area restaurants on the first Friday of each month. There certainly is a social - off-the-road - aspect to the club.

CVCC sponsors a fund-raising ride of 102, 72 or 32 miles every year. This year's "Century" ride will be Saturday, Aug. 24. The event will benefit San Mar Children's home in Boonsboro.

But the cycling club also has a hard core side - the racing side.

Antietam Velo Club is comprised of CVCC members who ride fast and hard. The club will host a road race - with more than $5,000 in prize money - on a circuit in a north Hagerstown neighborhood Saturday, July 6, and Sunday, July 7. Riders will come from as far away as Washington, D.C., Delaware and all over Maryland for the competition.

For information about Cumberland Valley Cycling Club, visit the Web site or call Cushwa at 301-223-6236. New members are welcome.

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