Rails to Trails... Separation is GREAT! Acceptance would be better.

The Montour Trail
a decent map of the Montour Trail

The Montour Trail in suburban Pittsburgh is an excellent example of a "rails to trails" trail
local to Washington DC we have the Capital Crescent Trail
the Capital Crescent Trail is an amazing "car free" option
gotta love the separation of cars and bikes
but... the DC area lacks the quantity of old rail road tracks that Pittsburgh has

The Montour Trail seems to go on FOREVER!
while the Capital Crescent Trail is a great little short stretch of paved bike path
the Montour Trail is more like suburban Chicago's Prairie Path than DC's Capital Crescent Trail

I must admit... I am drawn to the path for its multitude of bridges and tunnels
very cool for the bike to adopt these old railways
the long straight stretches of virtual nothingness can be relaxing
in contrast to riding the shoulder with fast passing cars

over the years on my visits to the Pittsburgh area I have witnessed the growth of the Montour Trail
on my most recent visit I was pleased to discover that they had build additional bridges that allowed for more car free miles on the trail headed north

I must admit... I get all turned around when traveling around PA
I am old school
normally I ignore the GPS and just follow my Spidey Senses
but... I have found that I am often wrong in my understanding of where I am and where I am going

the out and back on the Montour Trails makes things pretty simple
rather than guessing my way around on hilly country roads
I can just hammer on the separated multi-use trail one way for a set duration
then just turn it around and reverse my route

sure I love exploring... but I do not want to hold people up by getting lost and arriving late
and of course
I like to be separated from the aggressive cars who are not willing to be considerate and share the road
then there is the notion that I am "a stranger in a strange camp"
riding on unfamiliar roads
not knowing the sociology of the situation

add on top of that...
the people on these roads may also be unfamiliar with the area
all this adds up
or at least potential danger

I brought the bike
time allowed that I was able to ride on Thanksgiving Day for a couple of hours
then again the following day for about an hour and a half
Saturday morning I was greeted with snow... it would have been nice to ride
but we loaded up the car and left an hour or so earlier than usual in an effort to get the headache of a drive behind us

the two rides were awesome... not EPIC... but awesome
it is a great routine to bring the bike 
but even better routine to ride the bike
it pleased me to get two solid rides in while I was visiting the inlaws

the bike ride is good for the mind, body, and soul
and well... during the holidays the mind, body, and soul can often use a little recharge and often a little reboot
a bike ride is great to aid in recharging and rebooting

I was not alone when out on the trails
for the most part it was pretty vacant
but closer to the parking lot access points there were clusters of activities
other people escaping their homes

a good number of families out walking together
dog owners exercising themselves and their mutts
and of course... runners and bikers
it is not clear who is local and who is tourists
but I guess there is a good mixture of both

Pennsylvania has done well to increase their rails to trails system
this network of trails will aid to build a more active community in the years to come
as well as offering a bit of sanctuary for visitors like myself

I did one day with a long out and back
hammered out... then returned with the camera slung around my neck
stopped, slowed, and stalled for a few quick photo opps
the next ride was primarily on the road... but I jumped on the Montour trail on my return to try and avoid some of the hills

bringing the bike on vacation is a great idea
I wish I had a bike with me on my Florida trips!


Vannevar said...

If you're back on the Montour Trail and want some local rider company please let me know. - Vannevar

gwadzilla said...

not sure when I am visiting the in laws in Pittsburgh next...

but when I do
I will more than likely bring my bike and go riding

maybe we can connect
but really
it is all about sneaking out that "window of opportunity"

which means my rides often lack flexibility

as my life is not my own