Tell Us ...
In May, we asked if you've ever used a rail-trail to train for a specific event.
Melissa Meek — Farmington, Conn.
I plan to use rail-trails in my marathon training because of the safety and serenity they offer. There are a couple bike trails near where I live, including the 40-mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, and it's great to be off the roads and be among walkers, bicyclists, joggers, inline skaters ... you name it. Seeing others out enjoying the trail motivates me to keep going. I have been running on the Farmington lately for the shade it provides, now that summer is pretty much here. It also provides some great scenery as it goes over the Farmington River and past neighborhoods.
Also, I plan on using TrailLink.com to find more trails to keep things interesting!
Michael O'Neill — Nederland, Colo.
In my neighborhood lies the right-of-way for the narrow-gauge railroad that formed the backbone of the transportation system when our area was settled in the late 1880s. The Switzerland Trail of America connected the supplies and processing plants in Boulder, Colo., with the gold and silver mines in the mountains to the west.
In 1919 the railroad collapsed under the combined weight of mines playing out and automobiles coming in. It was sold off at auction, with all lands reverting to public ownership. Today, a large percentage of those 40-plus miles of right-of-way is still part of our public forest lands, and at a maximum 3-percent grade the railbed makes an ideal training ground for mountain biking and for my specialty, trail running.
I have several sections I particularly love to run, including the miles that extend through Caribou Ranch Open Space, off the Peak to Peak Highway in Nederland. At the base of the Indian Peaks and Arapahoe Glacier, at this time of year the wildflowers are beginning to bloom, the aspens are budding, the spruces and firs are a darkening green. The air is fragrant with forest and bubbling brooks, as the run culminates at the Blue Bell Mine, a restored mining camp that was one of the stops along the way for the little engine that could and its happy, flower-gathering passengers.
It's a joy to run, though I must say it's far more pleasurable to walk and soak in the beauty. It doesn't exactly improve my times for training, but I don't mind.
Walter Maude — Taylor, Texas
I used the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail of Mid-Michigan in the mid-1990s on an almost daily basis as part of my training and conditioning for triathlons in Michigan. I alternated between inline skating and riding my bicycle. Once you get out of the Midland downtown area and beyond Northwood University, there is minimal trail traffic. This section started at about Mile 3. Just west of Sanford is the Mile 8 marker, which makes for a good five miles out and five miles back workout. Continuing to Coleman was a good longer workout, mainly reserved for weekends.
I live in Texas now, and there are no trails within easy distance from my house, so my riding is now mostly on country roads northeast of Austin in Williamson County.
John Hardy — Massachusetts
Several years ago, there was a series of rides sponsored by Pallotta for AIDS. I rode the Boston-New York (later called Northeast) AIDS Ride, and riders both individually and as groups rode the Minuteman Bikeway, which runs 11 miles west from the Alewife "T" Station in Cambridge to Bedford. It has its challenges because of heavy use, but we always trained on this path, either all or part of it. In addition, I also trained for a triathlon on the Minuteman.