Seth Gernot and Rebecca Rankin cranking up Canton Avenue in Pittsburgh, the steepest paved road in the world.
The 335 miles of bike trail connecting Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. has never been ridden in 24 hours. A Pittsburgh couple will not only accomplish this feat on Friday, they’ll do it on a tandem. After successfully setting the bar as the first co-ed tandem riders to complete Pittsburgh’s famous Dirty Dozen ride in 2012, the couple is ready for anything.
While the couple has ridden long distances before, nothing will compare with the test ahead along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath. “A couple of years ago we rode 150 miles in a day to Cleveland. I wasn’t used to pedaling for that long and ended up dry-heaving during the last four miles… but we made it,” said Rebecca.
She is no stranger to physical challenge. As a dedicated Bikram Yoga instructor Rebecca has taken on the challenge of completing eight Bikram classes in a day. She admits that, “Spending 12 hours in a humid 105 degree yoga room is incredibly difficult, but riding to DC in twenty four hours is daunting.”
As a bike tour outfitter and veteran of six 24-hour relay rides from Washington to Pittsburgh, Seth is no stranger to the trail or the physical challenge ahead. “It’s going to hurt, it going to hurt a lot,” he said. “I have no doubt that there will be times where we’ll want to throw in the towel, but we’re in this together. We can make it if we stay positive and keep the pedals turning.”
The couple must pedal 15mph with only minimal breaks along the route. “If all goes well, we’ll take a total of one hundred minutes off the bike,” said Rebecca, “That includes time to go to the bathroom, refill food and water supplies, and just get off of our butts for a minute or two.”
So, why would anyone do such a thing? Why would anyone subject themselves to such torture for 86,400 agonizing seconds? Seth explains: “Recently we watched ‘Chasing Ice‘, a documentary showing the current devastating effects of climate change on the Arctic region. We immediately donated to that cause and wondered aloud about what else we could do to contribute. The thought of riding to DC in 24 hours popped into our heads.
“A friend that’s familiar with the trail scoffed at the idea, telling us that it couldn’t be done. We asked him how much he’s donate if we did it. His answer: $1,000. That inspired us then and there to grab the bike and get in gear. At that moment the idea became a reality.”
Adding the challenge is the fact that the couple is also shooting a documentary film about the ride as it happens. “We’ve been lucky enough to find a talented young Pittsburgh filmmaker that’s pouring his heart and sole into the project. Our goal is to enter this film into the Banff Mountain Film Festival,” Seth said.
The goal of the ride is to raise $10,000 for the Wild Foundation, the supporting fund behind the movie “Chasing Ice”. Rebecca and Seth have already raised nearly $2,000 through Causes.com and ask that everyone in Pittsburgh chip-in what they can. “Every dollar counts,” Rebecca said. Anyone who makes a donation will have their name in the credits of the film.
The couple is very is very excited for the ride and invites everyone to join them near the fountain at Point State Park Friday morning at 7 a.m. to see them off. They’ll pedal away precisely 7:30 a.m. with goal of reaching Georgetown 24 hours later.
Details and online donations are found by clicking here.