Rail-Trails without Borders
Kay Halliwell's cycling party out on
the trail in Holland.
Halliwell's crew in a field of tulips.
In May, we asked you to tell us about your experiences on rail-trails in other countries. Some planned trips to Europe or Canada expressly to ride particular pathways. Others took advantage of fortuitous trail findings while out on vacation. In each case, it's clear that no matter the coordinates, trail lovers never miss an opportunity to explore a new route.
Jack and Pat McDonald — New Albany, Ohio
My wife and I have cycled in Quebec on the trail from St. Jerome to Mt. Lauier, called the Parc Linéaire Le P'tit Train du Nord. This trail goes 100 miles through some beautiful small villages about 30-40 miles apart, which makes for some wonderful cycling.
Other places we have biked were the trail in
New Brunswick along the St. Johns River, the Confederation Trail in Prince Edward Island, and a trail that is still being worked on in Newfoundland. We rode from Port aux Basques to Deer Lake. Wonderful trail with the mountains on your right as you pedal along.
Our best trip was in 1989 when we drove to Winnepeg, Manitoba, put our bikes on VIA
Rail and went to Banff, Alberta. We then rode our bikes in a self-contained trip to Jasper, Alberta, put our bikes on the train and rode back to Winnepeg. Too bad you can no longer
do the trip, as the train does not go to Banff, only to Jasper.
We rode the Ice Field Parkway 180 miles to Jasper. The scenery is outstanding: blue skies, snow on the mountain tops and cool temperatures for riding in July. Can't beat that. Another trip we took was taking the auto ferry from Montreal to the Madeleine Islands. What a pleasant place to ride, but you have to deal with the wind. That is why it is so popular with wind and kite surfers. Riding in Canada is a pleasant surprise.
Bob Williams — Lancaster, Ohio
Last summer, my wife and I went on a wine-tasting vacation to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Driving up the Niagara Parkway to the town, we noticed a bike trail between the road and the cliffs above the river. The next day, we rented a couple of bikes from the hotel, threw on a backpack and pedaled down the Waterfront Trail to Lewiston. On the way back, we hit about six wineries for tastings and filled the backpack with wine bottles. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day, but that last mile back to the hotel was tough. Wine weighs more than you'd think, especially after doing tastings at six different wineries.
Kay Halliwell — Venice, Fla.
On a bicycle trip to Holland in 1991, a representative of the KLM airline met us and made arrangements for us to use the baggage arrival area. I am certain he had no idea of the drama that would take place as we emptied these huge boxes and worked to reassemble our bikes in such a public place. A crowd gathered to watch, ogling and staring at this strange collection of people down on the floor trying to get organized (only a few of us were really good at the mechanics of this operation).
The airport personnel inspected the American bikes with admiration. Getting out to the waiting vans with luggage, bikes and those huge boxes (which we were saving for the return trip) was as smooth as you expect under the circumstances. It took many trips through morning rush hour crowds to exit the airport building. The weather was cold and wet, and two lucky couples had been chosen in advance to drive the vans. It took three turns around the airport for the six bicycling couples before we found the correct exit and faced the 20 wet miles from Schiphol Airport to Woubrugge, a small antique town near Leiden. All were exhausted from the flight and the stress of assembling the bikes with an audience—some holding an UZI under their arms.
We had to scratch our plan to visit Aalsmeer's flower auction, the world's largest, due to the weather. But we proceeded around the east side of Westeinder Plassen and Braassemer Meer, both lovely lakes, and then to Woubrugge. We arrived around 3:30 p.m., tired from jet lag and soaking wet from the rain that had even leaked into our shoes.
The following day was perfect, sunshine and 50 degrees. We had an open schedule so decided to bike to Keukenhof Gardens via Lisse. It is a 70-acre park located in the heart of the bulb fields. The bicycling is great and the bike trails wide and paved and separated from the roadways. The trails have their own traffic signals and bypass any huge intersections. We biked about 45 miles that day. I purchased tulips to send back to Pennsylvania; 200 yellow are still blooming each springtime and bring back the memories of Keukenhof Gardens. Holland has the best bicycling in Europe, and we have been bicycling there on four different trips. I do not bicycle any longer due to age, but I still have wonderful memories of trips to France, England, Italy and Holland.
Judy and Mike White — Ashland, Ohio
We have ridden several rail-trails in France, and we plan to go to Canada in June and ride the Route Verte trails north, south, east and west of Montreal.