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Biking brings family together

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Update: Since writing this post, the Snyder family has reworked their trip to avoid going to Maryland, so they won't have to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. So instead, the family will ride from Myersdale, PA., to Pittsburgh, PA, on the Great Allegheny Passage- a voyage of about 120 miles. The family expects the children will actually enjoy this path more as it will go by more kid-friendly attractions.

This summer, which comes amidst a pandemic and time of uncertainty for many families, will hold special memories for one family from Groton. That's because the Snyder family of 4 is embarking on their inaugural bicycle tour along the C&O Canal- a rail trail voyage that they will ride together for about 140 miles- from Maryland to the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

The trip holds special meaning for parents Steve and Shana since this summer marks the 20th anniversary of a self guided cross-country bicycle tour across the USA that they took in their 20's, before they were married. Never had they dreamed that 20 years later, they'd be doing an abbreviated version with their 8-year old daughter, Truth, and 10-year-old son, Noble.

Shana Snyder, an Ironman competitor and teacher in the Cortland City School District, is pictured here astride the Specialized bicycle (on loan from Mobility Manager Catherine Wilde) that will carry her on her voyage.

The family will leave from Cumberland, Maryland and because of COVID-19 concerns, they plan to stop short of Washington, D.C. (which had been their original ending point) about one week later. The couple expects their children can ride 20-30 miles per day. But they are prepared to adjust those expectations accordingly, as it's the first overnight pedaling adventure for their children and the terrain is grass and stone.

This is an example of what their camping setup will look like each night.

The family travels as a self-contained unit, towing and carrying in bags mounted on their bikes, all the food and camping gear they need for the adventure.

The Snyders have taken many training rides to prepare, but they know from experience things don't always go as planned. Shana recalls on that first tour across country with her husband to be, riding a stretch through Texas for almost 90 miles one day, without seeing any sign of civilization. In hindsight it was terrifying, though Shana admits she felt invincible in her 20's.

There will be no long stretches like that for the kids, however, Shana and Steve have planned out their stops where they will stock up as needed, and they will never be far from civilization.

Eight-year-old Truth Snyder is pictured here on a preparation ride. Truth already follows in her mother's footsteps, running and biking for fun.

Steve and Shana, married now for 14 years, are excited that their children are now old enough to join in the hobby that brought them together. Bicycle touring, says Shana, unlike the sport of bicycling alone, combines the added challenge of navigation, mechanics, cooking, camping and trip planning over the course of many days.

Stay tuned for the next #TransportationTuesday blog to hear about how the family's adventure went!


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