Friday, September 11, 2015

Trails, One Of My New Favorite Things

A favorite place with some favorite people
photo courtesy Darling Bride
This past Sunday my Mom, Darling Bride, two youngest, and I rode the Prairie Duneland Trail in my hometown.  Thank you to Darling Bride's for writing about it too!  It was a fantastic day because I got to spend a few hours doing one of my favorite things with some of my favorite people.

This Outdoor Season my family and I started embracing the bicycling trail lifestyle.  By trail, I mean the wider-than-a-sidewalk-paths-for-walking,-hiking,-and-bicycling-many-of-them-were-former-railroad-beds.

Ah, Saturday Mornings pedaling away the miles and the day with Darling Bride and as many kids and parents / in-laws we can get to come along.  When the kids were little I used to bicycle on the Monon Trail just north of Indianapolis by myself for exercise purposes.  I didn't ride it a lot because I'd rather be with Darling Bride and the kids instead of riding alone.  As a family, we would bicycle around the neighborhood.  Then their teenage years came (the kids, not Darling Bride).  The neighborhood wasn't enough.  Bicycling though city streets is too dangerous for the risk.

Thank you to visionaries who started the rails to trails movement back in the 1980s!

Once upon a time, as railroads were abandoned, pioneers in the rails to trails movement saw the value of converting former railroad lines into pathways for walking, hiking, and bicycling.  They are getting more popular, and cities are even building trails that aren't originally rail lines for the purpose of connecting more people to the main trails.  The trails are getting more actively promoted both private advocates such as the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy (national) and Indiana Trails (my home state).  Our state's Indiana Department of Natural Resources also promotes our trail system.

What makes them so amazing is that we then get to go on a bike ride together as a family with lessened concern over competing with cars.  There is still the etiquette of sharing with faster bicyclists, slower bicyclists, walkers, and runners, but we're working on that.

Not only have we been to the Prairie Duneland Trail, but we've also had opportunities to ride throughout Central Indiana and I can appreciate the hard work that has gone into creating these trails.

By the way, the Prairie Duneland users get kudos for being the friendliest we've come across so far.  Fitness riders, families with young children, casual riders of all ages and abilities.  I remember the railroad that used to be there, too.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail.
The trail system in Plainfield, Indiana.
Carmel, Indiana is great, but the Monon trail has some of the most discourteous users we have encountered.  They've even had to pass special ordinances because of that.

Works In Process:
The cities just south of Indianapolis are still in process.  We do have a trail close by, but we still have to drive to get to it safely.  More bike paths we can get to from home are being built even today, we need to wait for it to connect to the trail.  Darling Bride thinks we can make it, and I hope so.  I'd rather our city invest more in trails than renovate their community center to try and compete with private fitness facilities, but that's just me.

These Take Time
A trail in process with its trailhead at Indiana Dunes State Park is currently in construction, and the plan was introduced as early as about 2006.

Not only do we get the kids out from in front of computers for a couple of hours, Darling Bride and I get ourselves out from in front of TVs.  After a week of desk work, I could use more outside time and less TV time.

I appreciate how Darling Bride has been championing the cause.  She's researching other trails around Indiana and is working toward putting together what she calls an "epic ride" for us.

We've invested in bicycle carriers, but for those starting out maybe you can convoy with a van and a car.  We did for our first ride this Spring in Franklin, Indiana.  We put our bicycles into one van, kids in the other, and made the trip.

Sure beats riding in the street without a helmet, like I did during the 80s.

In the 90s I'd go to state parks and larger local parks to ride to beat the traffic.

Action Point
If you get a chance before Outdoor Season comes to a close, find a local trail with your family and invest the time to go on a ride.  You'll be glad you did.


  1. I love to ride the trails around here, safer than the streets!! Remember when I got hit by the car??? I have a scar from that...

    1. Darling Bride fell off her bicycle last week. She's OK, bumps and bruises. But I quickly thought of the car incident. I didn't know you had a scar.

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