RAIL TRAILS CONSERVANCY revisted

Yes, I have written about this before. That was 7 years ago. Some of us have no trails near us to ride on. So sorry for you. Some of us have planned out bike trails which have been built which we can ride on. Some of us have rail trails near us we can ride on. And some of us have both types of  trails near us we can ride on. I am fortunate in that I have both near me … over 125 miles of trails. That being said rail trails may or may not be among my favorite trails to ride on. Rail trails are particularly interesting because they take advantage of existing “corridors” which are no longer in use by a railroad company. Because the route was laid out with trains traveling along them they don’t have sharp curves nor steep grades. So if you don’t like steep grades and sharp curves this is good for you. Train corridors may be fairly straight and without shade … neither of which appeal to me. I have ridden rail trails which I very much disliked because of these reasons. In a word … “BORING”! Just miles and miles of nothing of interest to see nor curves to break up the monotamy. And in hot weather … “MISERABLE”! … as there is no relief from the sun. And yet rail trails can have lots of curves, be very scenic and offer great shade making them great to ride on. At this point in time we only have one rail trail here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area where I live. It is named the Pufferbelly Trail. It is a mixed bag. Most of it is fairly straight with no shade in parts of it while quite a lot of it has really nice shade.

If we play the game of “Let George Do It” we might find things going nowhere fast. The more ‘we the people’ get involved the more likely we will see progress made.

RTC (Rails Trails Conservancy) has lots of videos. And no, they are not all about raising funds, promoting and growing trails.

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REVISTING THE GREAT AMERICAN RAIL TRAIL PROJECT

Some progress is being made on the Great American Rail-Trail. It is quite a project. I first wrote about it a couple of years ago . Click HERE to view it. From the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., to Seattle, Washington one will be able to ride the entire distance on paved trails. It is reported to be about 53 % completed at this time. That is not really much of an increase as it was just over 52 % two years ago when I first wrote about it.

And here are a couple on bicycles riding on some of the existing route …

David has a total of 11 videos of his Great American Rail-Trail ride in case you want to watch any more of them.

With so many of us having electric motors on our bikes and trikes that becomes a major concern and consideration as our batteries need to be recharged. I would say that we are pretty much on our own as far as having a means of accomplishing this. Buying some sort of generator or other power supply can be expensive and can be heavy weight to carry along with us. Yet it is a necessity. I know that there is solar power but personally I don’t think it is very practical.

I doubt if I will ever ride the Great American Rail-Trail. I consider myself as having done well to have ridden the trails I have in the past when I was younger. And some of those trails are part of this Great American Rail-Trail project as they are using as many of the existing trails as they can in the route planning.

Click HERE to visit their website.

Click HERE to visit the routing in each individual State.

 Since I live in Indiana I am featuring Indiana’s part in this.

Click HERE to check out the State of Indiana. The report shows great detail. All States involved are available to view.

As the legend indicates the blue lines are existing trails being used. The red lines indiate gaps requiring connecting trails to be constructed. Indiana does not have much needing to be done. Some States have a whole lot of trails needing to be built. I wonder how popular it will be. Do you think you might ride it someday?

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MULTI-USE TRAILS

Although we often call them bike trails most are multi-use trails intended for walkers, runners, skateboarders, roller skaters, and bicyclists. Some trails also allow horses. I have never had a discussion with anyone about this but I bet if we were honest we would say that we as cyclists would prefer they were strictly bike trails. And walkers would say they would prefer if no bicycles were allowed. I can understand why as many cyclists display bad discourteous  manners and give cyclists a bad name. Of course, most walkers do the same. And watching videos of various trails I have noticed that people are the same all over the world. Then I recall the famous words … “Can’t we all just get along?” I would be the first to admit that it is quite challenging. People aren’t going to change.

Multi-use trails don’t include sharing the pavement with airplanes, right? Or does it? This cyclist definitely has a front row seat. I am pretty sure that is closer than I would care to be.

Some animals I am thrilled to share the trail with …

And some I want no part of. I am glad I don’t have to share the trail with this guy …

And another …

And another …

And another …

 

Unfortunately there are too many vicious acting dogs out there and many of them are not on a leash like the law requires.

And another …

I don’t mind small harmless snakes but this fella (or gal) I find intimidating.

And some more …

Even our fellow cyclists can be a royal pain …

Cars are not allowed on trails, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t encounter them …

A friend of mine told me about a car passing him on a trail. He estimated the car was doing about 30 mph. I have only seen motorscooters and motorcycles which, of course, are not allowed either.

And hopefully we won’t be party to a police chase while riding along the trail …

That could have some really bad results.

So I guess one could say that there is good and bad in multi-use trails. I reckon that is true of just about everything in life. Dirty Harry said it … “go ahead, make my day” … only I would alter it … “help me to make your day”. Since we all have to share the trails together may we make the effort to make each other’s day. It is not easy dealing with others but we really need to make the effort. And may God add His blessing!

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USING GOOGLE TO CHECK OUT TRAILS

Did you know that some trails are available to view on Google Street View? Yep, you can actually go right onto the trail with the camera as though you were actually there. The picture up above is of the Maumee Pathway in Fort Wayne, Indiana using the Google Street View feature. It is a great feature for checking out trails. You can move along the trail in either direction or look off to the sides and zoom in to see what it there. Only the trails that someone has gone to the trouble to video using the Google camera setup loaned out to them by Google are available to view in Street View. I have used this feature to check out several trails. I have “virtually ridden” entire trails and familiarized myself with them without ever leaving my home here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I feel like I know the Floral City-Inverness, Florida area fairly well as a result of using Google, especially Street View. I think if I were to actually go there I could readily navigate my way around this area including driving on the highways and streets.

Some of Fort Wayne’s trails are available to view on Google Street View. Years ago our assistant Trails manager and another city employee undertook the task of videoing some of our trails. I posted an article about it showing the camera equipment as they were using it.

I have been talking about the Withlacoochee State Trail in Florida lately. I have spent more time viewing it on Google Street View than any other trail as I want so very much to go there and ride it. I may never get to but I have already done it on Google … not once but several times. Just last night I did so.

To use Google Street View to check out a trail you simply click on the Street View icon and hold  the left button down on the mouse to drag the icon onto the place you want to view. You can only view those places which are shown with blue lines. If the trail does not turn into a blue line it has not been videoed and is not available to view in Street View. In the image below I have drug the Street View icon over onto the Maumee Pathway. It is circled in red.

To go to Street View all I need to do is release the left button of the mouse on the blue line and it will go to Street View.

Once in Street View I can use the mouse to turn the view 360 degrees. I can pan up or down. I can advance in either direction along the trail by using the mouse to click on the chevron in the white circle. It can be moved up or down the trail to move faster (farther distance) or slower (less distance). I can also zoom in much closer to take a look at something such as a sign. Here is the same image as above only it has been zoomed in. There is a compass displayed which illustrates which direction the viewer is looking. It can be changed.

For trails which are not available in Street View you can simply use the satellite image mode and zoom in on the trail. It is not as good as Street View but it works somewhat.

BTW, I read that people can also use their own 360 camera to “film” a trail and then submit it to Google.

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Withlacoochee State Trail: This might be Florida’s best bike trail

MLK Jr. had a dream. I have one also. My dream is someday I will be able to ride this trail. Unlike some folks I have never been a person with a “bucket list” but I readily admit that I do have this one strong desire.

I titled this using the same title of an article I just read about this trail. I am not copying the article … only using its title. Over the years I have spent many hours  researching about this particular trail which intrigues and entices me so much. I like the idea of being able to ride such a long distance. My plan would be to start my ride in the Floral City area which is about in the middle of the 46 mile long trail. From there I could go north or south and have about the same distance. 23 miles out and back would make for a 46 mile ride which sounds ideal for a day’s worth of riding. As a bonus one can often see various kinds of wildlife on or near the trail.

This map shows the area of Florida this trail is located.

It is my understanding that this trail is popular with many tadpole trike riders. That really appeals to me as I would like to be able to ride with others.

And in Floral City right next to the trail one can find “TrailSide Trikes“. They not only sell and service several different brands of tadpole trikes but they are there as friends to trikers. Many trikers meet together there. Trail rides are offered as well as some events at their location. I would love to be a part of that.

SHOP IS DEFINITELY CONVENIENTLY LOCATED RIGHT ALONGSIDE OF TRAIL

I may never see my dream fulfilled but I am not giving up on it. I am almost 76 years old so time is slipping away. They even have a pretty fancy outhouse alongside the trail.

It is my understanding that much of the trail is shaded, especially the northern half. I like that! Also I read that the scenery along this trail is better than most. I like that also!

One thing that I read which I don’t care for is that portions of the trail have horse trails alongside of the paved trail. That ruins bike trails in my opinion. In fact, I think it ruins it for everybody including the horses.

A few years ago they had some unwelcome activity on the trail which I hope never happens again. A police chase occurred in the Floral City-Inverness area. I wrote about it at the time.

That is a little more excitement than I care for. That tadpole triker was spared but that is too close for comfort. That would scare most of us half to death. BTW, if you watch the first video I posted the pickup truck the police are chasing turns off onto the trail at about 6 minutes and 5 seconds into the video. (This is where I start the video in the link above.) He goes on and off of the trail several different times. What makes this scenario all the more dangerous is that there is a rural road and a highway which run alongside of the trail not far away. If a trail user heard sirens he would naturally think that the police cars are over on one of the roads and not on the trail.

Every February the Big Honkin’ Trike Rally is held in Inverness, Florida. It lasts 7 days and brings recumbent riders together with a more less open schedule where they can meet up with other riders and ride as much and as far on the trail as they care to. I have an article about this rally scheduled to be published Nov. 16th. (The link to the article won’t work until the 16th.)

And a 10 mile extension trail named “The Good Neighbor Trail” has been built connecting the Withlacoochee State Trail to  Brooksville, Florida.

Yes, indeed … I can identify with this. One of those trikes could be mine. I can dream anyway. Yes, I have a dream …

that someday I will be seen on my trike on the Withlacoochee State Trail. I have even thought about moving down there … something I swore I would never do as I don’t like heat, humidity and insects galore. I could handle snowbirding but I could never afford it.  But I can dream …

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A VISIT TO THE HOME OF THE CLASSICS – AUBURN, INDIANA

Recently I rode my trike from my home in Fort Wayne up to Auburn, Indiana, known as “Home of the Classics” because of all the old classic cars that are found there often. There are museums, parades, auctions and displays of classic cars on the downtown streets.

The future Poka-Backe Trail is shown by red line in photo above.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg  Museum (ACD Museum)(shown above) is well known. Visitors from all over the world come to Auburn to see it and the many classic cars that appear in Auburn at certain times of the year. The museum is located in the same building where they used to be sold. It has a second story also used to display  these collector cars. There are actually 3 automotive museums in Auburn. There used to be a 4th museum (Corvette Museum) as well as a WW2 museum. They are both gone now.

Auburn was once a manufacturing hub for early cars and, of course, the well known Auburn automobile was among them. Auburn was once called Little Detroit. Yes, Auburn has a very rich car history.

I know Auburn pretty well as I was born and raised there and in Garrett, an even smaller town about 5 miles southwest of Auburn. Auburn is a nice small town although it has grown considerably since I grew up there. With its growth has come a lot of changes and new things. One of those things is a bike trail known as the Rieke Park Trail   shown in red in the image below. The blue line is the Auburn-Waterloo Bike Path which will be used as part of the Poka-Backe Trail along with the Rieke Park Trail. Another part of it is the glorified sidewalk along Betz Rd. shown by  broken line.

I have known of its existence for a few years now but I had never been on it. In my recent posting about the Pufferbelly Trail here in Fort Wayne I talked about it being part of the future Poka-Bache Trail which is a rails to trail project and will be the longest in the state of Indiana … 81.3 miles going from near Bluffton to north of Angola to Pokagon State Park. It will pass right thru Auburn right in front of the ACD museum.

So yesterday I rode up to Auburn and rode in the stretts alongside of these wide “glorified sidewalks”) to check out what this future trail will offer. It connects to the Rieke Park Trail as part of the trail going up to Pokagon State Park. When I turned onto the Rieke Park Trail I was pleasantly surprised as it was as nice of a trail as I have seen or ridden on.

It is only 1.2 miles long however but it sure is nice. It had very smooth asphalt pavement and most of it is very well shaded. While there I encountered a woman out walking her dog and we struck up a conversation in which she told me about the nice paved trails available to ride on at the former Greenhurst golf course which is now called Greenhurst Park. She was referring to the golf cart paths. So after my ride on the Rieke Park Bike Path I rode on over to check out what she had told me about. In the image below Rieke Park Trail is shown in red. Another glorified sidewalk is shown in blue. The Auburn-Walterloo Bike Path is shown in yellow. Greenhurst Park is at the bottom of the yellow line.  The Auburn-Walterloo Bike Path is the continuing trail utilized for the Poka-Backe Trail going to Pokagon State Park.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding around Greenhurst Park on the former golf cart trails. It made the ride more worthwhile than just riding on the short Rieke Park Trail would have been.

Labor Day weekend is the busiest time for the Classic Cars so if you are interested in them it is a good time to come. Be warned however, the city becomes a very busy place. As a resident of Auburn it was always a good time to leave the area so I didn’t have to deal with it. I had my welding business there however and usually had  extra business welding on trails and the cars themselves. I once welded the broken off left front axle on a Mercedes Benz armored car that used to belong to Hitler. It was being auctioned off and I got called to go to the museum building to repair it. The armored car had a bullet hole in the bullet proof rear door  window.

I had a 58.6 mile ride on my trip up to Auburn and back. I ran both of my batteries down to the 20 % level. I just had enough battery to get back home. I turned the power down quite a bit of the time on my 2nd battery to conserve power in it.

BTW, I have ridden up to Auburn and Garrett on my trike about six time previously. It is true … you can never go back home. It is just not the same as I remember it and I never see anybody I know.

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THE PUFFERBELLY TRAIL

I thought I had written at least one article about the Pufferbelly Trail previously but upon doing a search I discovered I haven’t. I have talked about it a few times in various posts but I have never featured it. So guess what? Yep, I decided to do so now. The Pufferbelly Trail is an ongoing rails to trail project located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nearly 7 miles of the Pufferbelly Trail have been constructed: 4.75 miles from Washington Center Rd. north to Life Bridge Church.  Another 2.25 miles is constructed from Lawton Park and Fourth St north to Lima Rd and Ice Way.  Eventually, this trail will extend from the northern edge of Allen County south 13 miles where it will connect with the Rivergreenway in downtown Fort Wayne.  The Pufferbelly Trail is one segment of a State Visionary Trail. When completed, the trail will be part of the Poka-Bache Connector, running from Ouabache State Park near Bluffton to Pokagon State Park north of Angola. This 81.3-mile connector trail will bring Steuben, Dekalb, Allen, and Wells counties communities together. This trail is a crucial part of the United Trails project in our region.

Poka-Bache Connector info

Wells County trail info

PBS Indianapolis news article

Although** I have not seen or heard of any of it being built other than about 7 miles here in Fort Wayne and Allen County our local trails manager tells me that about 50 % of the 81 miles is already complete. **Until just now I was unaware that anything has been done in Dekalb County north of Allen County. I was wrong. They have built a trail that goes right past where I used to live. It starts near the intersection of County Rd. 11A and County Rd. 56 goes alll the way into and thru  the city of Auburn (right past the Auburn-Cord- Dusenburg Automotive Museum). The trail connects to the Rieke Trail going north out of Auburn and will follow along Betz Rd. to connect to the pre-existing Auburn-Waterloo Trail. HERE is some information of the Steuben County plans.

In Allen County right now the Pufferbelly Trail ends  just a little ways north of Carroll Road at Life Bridge church. Life Bridge church has generously built a connecting trail over to their church and provided a trail head to park motor vehicles there for trail users. They have even built a pavilion near the trail for trail users to use.

Although there remains a few more miles of trail to be built to the north to reach the Allen County line where Dekalb Couny takes over the good news is the State of Indiana has pledged the funds needed to complete it. That being said it hasn’t been made available yet so construction has not started yet. I hope they get it built clear up to Pokagon State Park while I am still able to ride as I would love to attempt it. Fort Wayne is located about half way on the trail so it would be approximately a 40 mile ride to the northern end.

UPDATE: 1/26/23I just received word via an email that construction will begin next week on the remaining portion to be built to the north. They will get it ready over the Winter and Sping and pave it when it warms up. That is really welcome news. Now if Dekalb County will get their two connecting sections built the trail will be rideable up to Waterloo at least.

Right now the trail ends to the south at Washington Center Rd. There is a delay continuing it further south from there to connect to the next section they have already built. A major busy road (Indiana State Highway 930 otherwise known as Coliseum Blvd.) must be crossed which eventually a bridge over it is planned but that is many years off as it will be very expensive. Meanwhile the plan is to have the trail cross at ground level. I find that scary. It is very busy and very wide, especially at this planned location. I am told the crossing will be near Industrial Rd.

The map below shows the tuture planned trail route from Washington Center Rd. south across  Coliseum Blvd. and further south connecting to  the existing Pufferbelly Trail which goes right behind the Trek Bike Store making it very handy to cycle to. The Trek Bike Store is our local Catrike dealer.

I am sure many have already figured out where this trail got its name. Those who are old enough probably remember the popular childrens’ song …

Yep, steam engines, affectionately called “pufferbellies” used to operate on this railroad corridor. Thus the powers that be named it Pufferbelly Trail.

I had a little fun photo editing …

Years ago I read that this trail will eventually connect into a future east-west trail in northern Indiana … all part of the “visionary trail network” in Indiana. I see on the map that connecting trail will follow along Indiana State Highway 4 running northwest.

The Pufferbelly is a really nice trail … perhaps my favorite local trail. It is quite popular having more traffic on it than any other local trail. It also goes by Salomon Farms where another tradilhead is provided. Solomon Farms has a nice nearly 2 mile long trail around it which I always ride. Nice restrooms are available there at the north end of the barn type building.

Much of it is pretty well shaded which I always appreciate.

The trail passes under Dupont Rd., a busy 4 lane city road.

One of the trail extensions underway.

The trail as it crosses over W. State Blvd.

Some homeowners have the trail right in their back yard. How handy that would be.

I ride all year long as much as I can.

Above is a bridge on the Poka-Bache Connector trail in Bluffton, Indiana which is at the sound end of the trail.

Riding north on undeveloped train track corridor. See my update above. This will soon be developed and paved when warmer weather arrives.

Speaking of State Visionary Trails here is a map of future planned trails in NE Indiana …

 

There have been two incidents of trail users on bicycles getting hit by cars while attempting to cross the roads. The first one was killed. The most recently one was seriously injured. I haven’t heard any updates on her. Both of these happened the same way …  motorists stopped at the crosswalks to allow trail users to cross. They are not supposed to do this as it creates a very dangerous situation for trail users. They start to cross the trail and get hit by motor vehicles who are not stopping. In Indiana if there are  people already IN the crosswalk motor vehicles are required to stop and give them the right of way. But if they have not entered the crosswalk motor vehicles are not required to stop. Not only are they not required they are not suppose to because  this is what is happening. People need to get educated. If someone stops to let me cross I motion them to drive on. And I am finding more and more trail users are doing the same. Still, however, there are trail users who take off across the road. Just yesterday I saw a car stop to let trail users cross and a pick up truck went zooming around the stopped car. Fortunately the trail users had not attempted to cross. All of this I am sharing has been explained on the local TV news a few times but there still seems to be a lot of drivers who are not aware that they are not suppose to stop. I have written articles about these two incidents … https://tadpolerider.com/2022/03/07/trail-crossings-dont-become-a-victim/  and https://tadpolerider.com/2022/08/19/another-bicyclist-on-pufferbelly-trail-hit-by-car-at-road-crossing/.

Right now there is no practical way by bicycle  to get to the Pufferbelly Trail where it takes off north from Washington Center Rd.  I have a route I take but I end up riding down the the turning lane on Coldwater Rd. and the outside lane of Washington Center Rd. Most cyclists would not do that saying it is way too dangerous. Honestly I feel quite safe doing so and never have any issues with motor vehicles. I have the outside lane on Washington Center Rd. all to myself. A couple of days ago I was driving my car on Washington Center Rd. and spotted a guy on a tadpole trike riding in the outside lane. He turned off to ride on the Pufferbelly Trail. So I am not the only one who does this.

I just found this about the trail development in Dekalb County so now I know a little bit more about what has already been built in Dekalb County … https://www.co.dekalb.in.us/egov/documents/1626786696_485.pdf

BTW, I am originally from Dekalb County and know it well … probably better than I know Allen County where I live now.

If you ride on the Pufferbelly Trail be safe crossing the roads.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

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STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

assume I am not the only  one of us trike riders who deal with absolute stupidity on the part of trail users. I deal with it on a daily basis … several times a day. What am I talking about, you ask? Let me give you an example. I was out riding along a trail today going around a corner when suddenly right in front of me two females were walking on my side of the trail toward me. I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting them. I said to them “I can’t get over any farther” which I don’t think they even began to understand. I was as far over to the right as I could get riding on my side. The picture below is just for the purpose of illustration. It is not a real picture but one I put together. The two females are purposely blurred so they can’t be identified. The place on the trail was on a blind curve and well shaded so it was rather dark. As I came around the corner there they were right in front of me. As I said, I had to brake hard to keep from running into them. Stupid is as stupid does!

 

I can’t help but wonder if these people who do such stupid things like this do the same thing if and when they drive a car. I would hope not yet I can’t help but wonder why they would do it while walking. Stupid is as stupid does.

As bad as walkers and runners are I find the worst to be bicyclists. Most bicyclists ride in the center and even left of center and many of them meander all over the place. To make matters worse they pay absolutely no attention to whether or not any others are on the trail. If I am behind them they make it quite impossible to pass them. If they are coming toward me they often nearly collide with me riding over on my side not paying attention. Stupid is as stupid does. And that is really stupid.

And curves and hills don’t seem to matter to them. One would think that they would realize the danger and that the situation is an accident waiting to happen. Many times I have had to brake hard to avoid an accident. Sometimes I have had to ride off of the trail to avoid a collision.  Stupid is as stupid does. Are people really that stupid? Apparently they are.

I am sure we can all get along out there but it would be a lot easier if some would put more effort into doing their part. But stupid is as stupid does and it is what it is. Try to be safe out there.

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BICYCLE TRAILS I HAVE RIDDEN

With over 110,000 miles of trail riding most of them have been on my local trails here in Fort Wayne, Indiana where I live. I have however managed to ride on a few other trails … mostly in northern Indiana. Among them are: Angola Trail, Auburn Trail, Decatur Rivergreenway, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Nickel Plate Trail, Panhandle Trail, Cardinal Greenway, and the Monon Trail. In Ohio I have ridden on the southernmost section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail. That is about it. It is certainly not a large number of trails. I know some riders have a huge number compared to me. I am just not in a position to travel about seeking out trails to ride like some do. Like I said, most of my trail riding is on my local trails. I will say this … I do know my local trails quite well … possibly better than anyone else who rides them.

I would love to ride on a lot more trails checking a new one out each day. If I were a rich man and not committed to my wife needing to be here for her I would be doing that very thing. I don’t know if anything will change once my wife retires. I am older than she is so I have been retired for a number of years. But you know, thinking about it I doubt very much if I would travel about to ride different trails and that is because I can’t sleep worth a darn in any bed other than my own. My body just can’t take it. So I have my answer … it ain’t gonna happen. I will just do my best to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!