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July 6, 2010

Local man logging many miles in bike-only challenge for a year

MEADVILLE — It didn’t start out well. In fact, for the first hour of his trip, Meadville resident Ben Masters wasn’t sure he had made a wise decision.

“I started out and it was raining,” Masters said. “It just poured on me for the first hour in New York City. I thought, ‘Oh. I’ll test my mettle and make sure I’m ready to do this.’

“I got out of New York City, went over the George Washington Bridge and just as I got into New Jersey I had a flat tire. Right off, I was like, ‘New Jersey is going to suck.’ And it did.”

The first day of Masters’ trek by bicycle from New York City to Meadville may have been less than favorable. But by the end of the 500-mile journey, Masters not only cleared all doubts about whether or not he had made the right decision, he formed a new initiative: For a year, if he wants or needs to get someplace, it will be by bicycle.

“For one calendar year, I’m only going to ride a bicycle,” Masters said. “No riding in cars, trains, buses, airplanes. For one year, if I want to get somewhere, I’ve got to cycle.”

Masters began his initiative on May 29 as another way to promote bicycles as a viable form of transportation. In January, Masters started the organization N.W. Pa. Re-Cycle, also known as Meadville Area Bicycle Project, formed to provide summer bicycle education programs for children and teach them how to maintain their bikes themselves.

The organization also distributes donated bicycles through its “Earn-a-Bike” program.

“I’m stoked when people do it for recreation and I’m happy when people get out there and cycle every so often, but I really think it is a good form of transportation,” Masters said.

It also just so happens to be Masters’ only source of transportation through May 29, 2011.

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