Cyclists on mission to honor Sept. 11 heroes zip through Lehigh Valley

Written by on June 17, 2022

Cyclists on mission to honor Sept. 11 heroes zip through Lehigh Valley

By Aliya Haddon
June 17, 2022

Cyclists on a Sept. 11 memorial ride visit the Velodrome in Breinigsville during a pit stop. (Photo | Aliya Haddon / WLVR)

Bruce White has met many people on his 1,100-mile bicycle trek to honor the legacy of Sept. 11.

“It’s heartwarming to feel the support of the communities in-between where we’re going,” he said. “Every day, we’re meeting new people along the trail, and everybody is compassionate to the cause of 9/11. And to remember, we don’t ever want to forget all our heroes.”

White was among 15 cyclists who passed through the Lehigh Valley on Thursday. They’re following the September 11th National Memorial Trail that links the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. – all places where hijacked planes crashed in 2001.

The cyclists are riding the route to ensure the best and safest way for bikers to complete the memorial loop. Along the way they made a stop at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center and Velodrome in Breinigsville, Lehigh County.

The Lehigh Wheelmen Association, a local bicycle club founded in 1951, assisted with the ride by charting a course with the safest roads for riding between Reading and Easton. It was part of the route the cyclists took as they made their way from Shanksville in western Pennsylvania toward New York City.

“We’re just here to give them a good route and provide a rest stop,” Lehigh Wheelmen Association President Paul Smith said. 

The club provided lunch for the cyclists, who got a chance to take a few laps around the Velodrome used for professional track racing. 

David Brickley, founder and president emeritus of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, said the bicyclists are riding about 60 miles every day.

The group arrived at the Velodrome on Day 12 of their 24-day journey as they approached a total of about 600 miles. 

“The hope is to arouse the awareness of people all over the country,” Brickley said. “We’re trying to tell the story, honor those people, and talk about the resilience of America.”

White, the tour director, is making the trip riding tandem with his wife, Vicki White. The couple have been riding together since 2000. 

“What we’ve done on this tour is we’ve given it a personality by meeting all of the people in all the communities between the tragedy sites, and that’s more than anything we expected,” Bruce White said.

The idea for the September 11th National Memorial Trail was born not long after the terrorist attacks on America.

Brickley, Virginia’s former director of conservation and recreation, was attending a multistate trails and greenway conference just two blocks south of the Pentagon the week after 9/11.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to merge our love of trails and greenways with this national tragedy that happened upon us just days before,’” he explained.

Organizers discussed the idea at the conference, and in 2002, the September 11th National Memorial Trail was created. President Biden signed legislation officially designating the trail on Oct. 11, 2021. 

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