Bicycle trails are a great way to put the fun back in bike riding. A lot of people would like to ride but are concerned with the potential risks of riding in traffic. Bike trails can, definitely, be the answer. They are great for everyone but they are especially attractive to boomers and seniors.
The good news is that trails are, rapidly, being built throughout the country. We are becoming much more “bicycle friendly” every year as people become more active and are looking for ways to save money, lose weight, get fit, and have fun while they are at it.
Some of the bicycle trails are completely paved, or at least partially paved, and that is usually spelled out in the guide or map. You definitely need to know that if you are riding a road bike.
Riding with your wife or hubby can be a fun thing that you both can enjoy together. You see a lot of couples along the way. I couldn’t begin to count the weekend rides that I have taken with lady friends or my riding buddies. I am a big fan of bicycle trails and not a big fan of traffic, so I welcome the new trails enthusiastically. I have spent countless hours and ridden thousands of miles on them and enjoyed it immensely.
One of the best sources of info on bicycle trails is Traillink.com .They have a huge amount of, very specific, information on trails throughout the USA that can be a big help in deciding where to ride.
Traillink even gives you info on things like locations of rest rooms, suggested shops or historic sights along the way, access points, parking availability etc. They also have photos on their web site of scenic stops along the way and download-able maps.
A great public service that they provide is in promoting the maintenance of existing trails and the building of new trails. They encourage input from trail users and have a provision on their web site to guide us in mapping and submitting pertinent info. See Rail To Trails
Multi-use trails are popping up everywhere and, on these, you may see hikers, joggers, roller bladers and on some you will even see horses, which can be kind of cool. These are best for families but can be crowded on weekends.See Rails To Trails.org.
Many trails are built on or beside old railroad beds so they are flat as a tabletop. Often they run alongside a river, or canal, which also makes them very scenic. The only potential downside can be the wind. There are now over 20,000 miles of trails through the USA. The trails vary in length from a mile or two to 100 miles plus and have any number of access points along the way. So, you can plan a ride that will be challenging enough without overdoing it.
At each access point there are usually posted a few basic rules of the road like, please ride to the right in single file etc just common sense stuff but nothing really restrictive. Some have trail maps with the “you are here” indicated. You may even see locations of rest rooms on the maps.
Unless it is clearly spelled out on the map, it’s a good idea to visit some of the access points along the bicycle trails by car and make sure there is adequate parking there. These are generally at points where the trail crosses a road.
You may even want to take a few minutes to check out the traffic on the trail and talk to a few of the riders. They usually don’t mind a bit giving you some input on the trail. Also they can alert you to potential problems like fallen trees or flooding.
Some of my favorites trails just to give you a taste are ………
A lot of metropolitan areas are turning to bike trails to accommodate bicycle commuters and cut back on traffic which is more good news.
I urge all bike riders to support Rails To Trails - which
is one of the finest advocates for cyclists in the USA. They work,
tirelessly to promote the interests of cyclists. They are not only
focused on converting old railroad beds to bike trails but providing
trails where city dwellers can ride more safely and under-privileged can
have access to a healthy activity
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