A Birthday to Remember
To celebrate her 81st birthday my amazing mother-in-law, Margaret Mathis, wanted to take a bike ride with her family along the Great Allegheny Passage. On the second night we made a gourmet dinner of salmon, pasta and morel mushrooms we had picked along the trail that day.
Early the next day we packed up our leftovers and headed out, planning to picnic after we had passed through the Big Savage Tunnel, south of Meyersdale. The sun was shining, the day was glorious and Margaret was leading the pack. Emerging from the tunnel we were met with a downpour of rain, so we retreated for shelter in the Big Savage Tunnel. With nothing left to do but eat we started to unpack our gourmet picnic. One by one, other bikers stopped in the tunnel and we shared our lunch with a growing group of very appreciative riders! Everyone was astonished and impressed with our gourmet picnic lunch. One grateful rider asked "what kind of group are you?", and we explained Margaret's birthday wish as we shared our delicacies. Suddenly a spontaneous chorus of Happy Birthday burst out, and the sound and joy was magnified many times over inside the tunnel.
Margaret was smiling from ear to ear, and later said this was one of her best birthdays. I dare say no one present will ever forget this day!
Mt. Lebanon, Pa.
That Was Easy
This past July we took our tandems and headed to northern Michigan. Joined by our good friends Brian and Sue Patterson, our adventure was a multi-day, self-contained ride that included the North Central State Trail. My prankster husband, Tim Coyne, brought with him on our bike vacation an "easy button," and pressed it whenever he felt we had accomplished some new feat.
We started our trip at the quaint town of Gaylord, Mich. The first day we pedaled 49 miles to Cheboygan, where we spent the night. The highlights of that first day included a stop in Topinabee for a swim in the local lake, and a look around the beautiful beaver dam we saw there. Sadly we did not see any beavers, but did enjoy the wonderful ride through the north woods. The next morning we rode 16 miles along the shoreline of Lake Huron to Mackinaw City. We took the ferry over to Mackinac Island and rode around the bike-friendly island. We had lunch in the town, sampled the fudge, and marveled at the numerous yachts in the Chicago to Macinac yacht race.
I am a supporter of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and wanted to share our enjoyment of this trip because the North Central State Trail was so beautiful. It was extremely well maintained, and we had a great ride. Though we continued our trip on the wonderful back roads of northern Michigan, the first leg of our trip was summed up by the easy button: "that was easy."
Having ridden just about every trail, road route and bike path on the island of Honolulu, where I live, the idea struck me recently to do a 50 km ride in each of the other 49 states. So, over the past 18 months, as time and opportunity permitted, I spent 88 cumulative days on the mainland and achieved my goal. I called the adventure "Biker Buck's 50-50."
In 19 of the states I rode rail-trails. None disappointed, though a recently washed-out bridge on Nebraska's Cowboy Trail was a close call. The top three experiences would have to be the Sauk Rail Trail in Iowa, the Tammany Trace in Louisiana, and the Banks-Vernonia State Trail in Oregon. These three were special because of their focus on the communities they connect to, and the outstanding physical conditions and points of interest on the trail.
Mind you, the other 14 rail-trails were superb, too, in their own special ways, as were the state and municipal bikeways, particularly the ones alongside waterways.
You can see my photos and stories from Biker Buck's 50-50 at bikerbuck.blogspot.com.
The Ladder Photo
I would like to nominate the person in the photograph on page 12 of your recent issue ("The Midtown Greenway: Super Highway," Winter 2013) for the Darwin Award.
That is probably the most hazardous activity on a bicycle I have seen.
Los Alamos, N.M.
I agree with Judy Lorimer's comments ("Horse Sense," Members Network, Winter 2013). I first biked on this beautiful stretch about 10 years ago, and one could ride several miles before encountering anyone. Not anymore, especially on a weekend. I've been disappointed frequently over the lack of common courtesy by some bikers overtaking at high speeds. It appears to me that the same attitude prevails among them as it does with drivers in the area: "Hey, it's my road, out of my way." I'm afraid that the bikers who should read these comments probably will not. I simply do not understand how a quick, polite heads-up warning is so difficult to do.
Old Home Week
The Winter 2013 issue was like "old home week," with mentions of five trails that we have traveled in the past.
The first one was the Illinois Prairie Path, near the place I worked for many years, Fermilab, our nation's Particle Physics Laboratory. I also rode on the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin Railroad from my hometown to Elgin when I was in high school.
The Katy Trail was a pleasant ride for us along the Missouri River. We also rode the Great River Trail in Illinois, but more often in Wisconsin, from Onalaska to Trempealeau where there is a great luncheon to be had in a hotel overlooking the Mississippi River.
The Root River Trail in Minnesota is a great 30-mile ride, mostly downhill. We once rode the William Munger Trail from Hinckley to Duluth. In the 32 years since the Great Western Trail opened near our home in Illinois, we have ridden many trails, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Our preference has always been rail-trails, or trails along waterways.
Fred and Jo Mills
My wife and I are hooked. Three years ago we bought hybrid bikes with a government tax refund check, and joined Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
Our home is in the Ozarks in Springfield, Mo. With our four children raised, we have enjoyed an explosion of riding trails. We started locally with the manicured Galloway Trail in Springfield, which is stunning. We then worked our way up to the rugged Frisco Highline Trail out of Willard, Mo., and then the famous Katy Trail.
Last summer we planned a trip which included the Tunnel Hill Trail through Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, the metropolitan masterpiece that is the Silver Comet Trail out of Atlanta, Ga., the beautiful Spanish Moss-lined Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail, and the alligator infested Everglades.
This summer we rode the rustic Sugar River State Trail through the dairy land of southern Wisconsin, and the rolling Great River Trail out of the Quad Cities in northwest Illinois.
We plan our excursions using your website, www.traillink.com, and in order to connect with the local flavor we always stay at a B&B. We begin each ride as the sun is rising, so we are able to see and hear the trail awake with fresh air, and a variety of wildlife. Every trail has created a healthy renewal of spirit which can only be discovered while relaxingly bike riding. I am a pharmacist and my wife is a junior high school math teacher. After these trail trips, we return to our respective professions renewed with a positive attitude and ready to take on life's challenges.
Next summer maybe the Galloping Goose Trail in Colorado?
Thanks Rails-to-Trails Conservancy for inspiring us to join the healthy movement of riding bikes.
PS: We are getting the grandkids hooked, too.
Have Brompton, Will Travel
Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed rides on three trails while on a trip to the East Coast recently. I have a Brompton folding bike, and have taken it on two separate trips this year. In early October I did a short ride on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in northern Virginia.
Then I rode the Valley Forge to Philadelphia Art Museum section of the Schuylkill River Trail. Because of a big rain storm, I had to ride the bus back to Valley Forge. I was able to just fold my bike and take it inside the bus for the return trip. I later rode the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail in Maryland, from Annapolis to Glen Burnie and back, before flying home to Seattle.
I found all the information I needed for these trip on your website. Thank you for helping me enjoy these great rides.
Pass It On
All Rail-to-Trail Conservancy members can have a real impact on building more trails. How? Recycle your copy of Rails to Trails magazine by leaving it in the waiting room of your local doctor or dentist, where other people can read it. This will help others learn about rail-trails, and is a fun way to increase support for your favorite hobby.
Back From Minneapolis
Having just returned to my home in Florida from Minneapolis, I loved your article on the Midtown Greenway. Minneapolis has so much to offer in terms of bike trails. The Midtown Greenway ends at the Mississippi River, where another trail (Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System) takes you along the river and then around three lakes. There are so many other trails in this city, including connections to the downtown area. Fantastic!