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Bicycling trips allow teens to experience the outdoors.

Byline: Whitney Malkin The Register-Guard

Rooftops.

They're all 16-year-old Ed Zacharek can see from his bedroom window. Although the seasons change, and rain or the rising sun occasionally illuminate the view, it is a view that greets him each and every morning as his alarm clock forces him from bed.

But on Saturday morning, Zacharek will get to see a whole different view - the towering old growth trees and free-flowing streams that line Oakridge's Salmon Creek Trail - all from the two wheels of a bicycle.

The Eugene native joins a fleet of eight other cyclists and instructors in Eugene's newest bicycling program: Trips for Kids.

Eugene's local chapter is a division of a national program founded by avid mountain biker and environmentalist Marilyn Price.

The program started in Marin County, Calif., in 1988 when Price, upset that kids who lived in inner-city San Francisco had never experienced the beauty just a few miles away in Marin County, set a plan in motion to get them on bikes and out of the city.

Eleven years later, encouraged by the program's success, she took it national. Now, over 40 chapters exist.

Eugene's Trips for Kids chapter, sponsored by the Center for Appropriate Transport, is the first in Oregon, something that program organizer Jan VanderTuin, says he finds surprising.

"You think about Oregon, and biking and environmental issues are definitely things that come to mind," he said, chuckling. "But there hasn't been anything like this in the state before now."

In addition to a fleet of Trek bicycles donated from the national program through Paul's Bicycle Way of Life, students will get to use brand-new helmets and water bottles for their half-day ride. They'll also receive knowledge that VanderTuin says will give them an appreciation of the wildlife surrounding Eugene.

"The big thing is just giving kids a chance to get up in the mountains," said program organizer John Herberg. "It's pretty close to Eugene, but a lot of these kids have never been out of the city before."

Kids like Zacharek, who says he's excited to see what's beyond the city he's lived in for his entire life.

`I think (the trip) is really cool 'cause I grew up as a city boy,' Zacharek says, laughing. "I've never been outside the Oregon border."

Zacharek has been a student at CAT's alternative education program for four years, something that has given him both a knowledge and appreciation of bicycle maintenance.

He says he hopes that as other Eugene teens get involved in the program, he'll be able to share his knowledge of cycling.

"When you're on the road and you break down you gotta know how to fix it," he says. "I think (CAT students) could really mentor these kids."

Along with teaching participants about bike maintenance, Herberg says he also hopes to impart knowledge about nature, and has turned the event into a daylong field trip.

The group will stop at a fish hatchery, have a picnic lunch near waterfalls and learn about wildlife at a local museum.

The trip marks the inaugural voyage of a program that both Herberg and VanderTuin hope becomes a mainstay in the Eugene community. They say volunteers for the program have been abundant, and hope that bus service to Oakridge will make getting out to the trails easy - an environmentally conscious choice that gels with their overarching goals.

"We'd like to start out doing a trip every month," Herberg said. "We'll see where it takes us from there."

HIT THE TRAIL

Where: Meet in Eugene, ride is on the Salmon Creek Trail in Oakridge

When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.

To sign up for this or a later trip: Contact John Herberg at: (541) 343-3990
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Title Annotation:Recreation; Eugene organizers plan to start out by offering one bicycling trip each month
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 2, 2007
Words:619
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