Cross-country ride benefits Derry Rail Trail

Union Leader Correspondent
August 08. 2014 7:26PM
Derry cyclist Tom Betrand, left, is interviewed by Timothy Meinch, with the Des Moines Register, during RAGRABI, a bicycle festival that drew some 15,000 cyclists in Iowa. Betrand had a set of deer antlers that he had bought in Wyoming strapped to the back of his bike. (COURTESY)

DERRY — Three friends who started a cross country cycling trip earlier this summer to raise money for the Derry Rail Trail Alliance, are close to completing the 3,500 mile journey.

Derry residents Kevin Kopetz and Tom Bertrand and their friend Peter VanNuland left from Seattle in late June and are scheduled to pedal into Derry Sunday afternoon, said Mark Connors, vice president of the Rail Trail Alliance.

The three graduated from college this year, with Kopetz and VanNuland graduating from Seattle University and Bertrand receiving his diploma from the University of Connecticut.

Kopetz and Betrand, who are both 2010 Pinkerton Academy graduates, developed the idea for the bike trip to help fund the completion of the Derry Rail Trail, part of the larger envisioned Granite State Rail Trail, Connors said

They then reached out to the Rail Trail Alliance.

“The rail trail and the town of Derry are working in partnership; these guys just kind of contacted us,” Connors said.

They established a goal of raising $5,000, and a website was set up for donations, Connors said. So far, they have raised about $2,500.

They have had some adventures over the approximately 3,500 mile journey, like the time they encountered a bike festival in Iowa with some 15,000 cyclists participating, Connors said.

“It was a big, kind of moving party on bikes,” Connors said. “It was a nice way to break up the ride.”

The bike festival is sponsored by the Des Moines Register newspaper and commonly referred to as “RAGBRAI, “ which stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

They’ve also had to deal with some powerful storms along the way, but fortunately the trip has been fairly uneventful, Connors said. They have maintained a good pace, he added.

“These guys have just been going at it,” Connors said. “I know they’ve done more than 100 miles some days.”

If everything goes as planned, they should pull into downtown Derry at about 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend a reception that will be held at the trail head kiosk, which is located just off Broadway, behind Sabatino’s North Restaurant, Connors said.

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