Check out these short news briefs from the Blue Ridge and beyond.

Expecting Couple Learns Baby’s Gender at Marathon Finish Line

Back in September, Alysha and Brian Flynn of Longswamp Township, Pa., decided to make their finish extra special at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon in Easton. At the time of the race Alysha was five months pregnant and recently had an ultrasound to determine the gender of her baby. Instead of finding out the sex immediately, she had the results written down and put into two envelopes; one went to a race official and the other went to a local Wegmans supermarket, where color-specific balloons (either blue for boy or pink for girl) were ordered to be placed at the finish line. When she and Brian crossed the finished line after three hours and 53 minutes, they saw a bunch of blue balloons and learned that their daughter Riley would be a big sister to a baby boy.

“I watched his face light up,” Alysha said of her husband seeing the balloons in the Reading Eagle. “We were both crying.”

Alysha went on to tell the paper she’s been running since she was seven years old, and she’s careful with her exertion level while running when pregnant. She has plans for another marathon in December, before her son is born in early 2018, and she’s already qualified for the Boston Marathon, which will be her first big post-partum race.

High School Mountain Biking Expands in Virginia

Mountain bike opportunities are growing for high school students in central Virginia. With three new additions at the start of the school year in late August, all of the public high schools in Charlottesville, Va., and surrounding Albemarle County now have club racing teams in the Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League (VICL), which also includes more than a dozen, mostly private, schools in the Commonwealth. Credit goes to members of the Charlottesville mountain bike community for initiating the effort to get more kids on bikes.

A few years ago, Peter Hufnagel, a cycling coach at the Miller School of Albemarle, started the VICL as part of the broader National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which now holds 19 leagues across the country. More support in central Virginia came from Shawn Tevendale, owner of the Blue Ridge Cyclery bike shops, who allows teams in the VICL to ride on the private trails at his family’s Tevendale Farm to provide uninterrupted practice opportunities. According to a recent story on the website Charlottesville Tomorrow, more than 50 students will ride competitively in the local area, an impressive boost for a movement still gaining momentum.

Klean Kanteen Goes Solar

In late summer Klean Kanteen revealed that it is running on the power of the sun. The popular manufacturer of stainless steel water bottles and other drinkware announced on September 11 that its entire operation, including an in-house print shop, is now running on 216 recently installed, high-efficiency solar panels that will generate 141,323 kW of power. Based in the sunny Northern Sierra Nevada foothills in Chico, California, Klean Kanteen’s headquarters are located in an ideal region to harness the source of renewable energy; its solar array will generate more power than the company needs, resulting in a 107% offset and a contribution of electricity into the energy grid.

In a statement the company said: “This move to solar power is our latest effort to step back and look at our footprint as a company and lessen our impact on the world around us.”

Philly Bikers Bare All

In early September about 3,000 cyclists pedaled the streets of Philadelphia in their birthday suits. As part of the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride, the brave bikers in the buff pedaled 10 miles around the city past many historic sites, including Independence Hall. While many bikers decided to bare all, others wore underwear or covered certain parts in body paint. The annual ride takes place to raise awareness for cycling safety and promote positive outlooks on body image.

“I just broke up with my boyfriend and wanted to have a sense of freedom,” Olivia Neely, a topless rider, told the Associated Press. “I did it for me, not for anyone else.”

Bike Share Program Sees Early Success at N.C. State

Just before students returned to North Carolina State University for the start of the fall semester, 300 lime green bikes were dispersed throughout the school’s campus in Raleigh. The university’s transportation department partnered with California-based LimeBike to implement a new bike-share program, and it didn’t take long for many students to start pedaling.The bright green bikes were ridden 5,000 times within the first week and a half of school starting. A key to the fast success could be the affordable rates being charged to borrow a bike; after an initial free ride, students and faculty are charged just 50 cents per half hour. Those not affiliated with the school can also rent the bikes for one dollar per half hour. The city of Raleigh will start its own bike-share program in the spring, also with 300 bikes.

Virginia Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

Biking legends Rob Issem and Dick Howard are organizing a Hall of Fame in Roanoke, Va., to celebrate pioneers, athletes, advocates, trail builders, businesses, and leaders who have defined the sport in our region, from past to present day.