I have always been a bike rider. One of the best memories from my childhood involved us getting new bikes one year for Christmas. We have a family photo somewhere of the three of us kids standing proudly displaying our new bikes and smiling so broadly – we realised how lucky we were. We were always out riding after that and had some great adventures.
I remember being pregnant with my first daughter and riding my bike to work for as long as I could manage it. When she was old enough we bought a baby seat so that we could continue to ride around. I often tell the story that before I was game enough to put her in the seat I would strap a bag of potatoes in and go riding to get my confidence and balance right. When we had our second daughter we bought a new seat and were able to continue riding as a family. By the time the third daughter came along the eldest was old enough for a bike of her own and the baby took over her baby seat. All of the girls were brought up riding bikes for fun, health, exercise and as a family activity.
So when our community started applying to have our disused rail corridor converted into a rail trail in 2004, my husband and I joined in the quest wholeheartedly.
We have been patiently waiting for our rail trail for years, and so it seems to have become our quest – Quest (noun): A long or arduous search for something. The good news is that our little town has been approved as a pilot for a rail trail in our state. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too much longer for our quest to be fulfilled. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing along the way and there are some who are still to be convinced of the benefits. Read my Fridge anyone post from a while back for more details.
In the meantime our local bike riding community has started a Saturday morning riding group which welcomes anyone along for a ride at 9.30am and lasting for about an hour or so. Afterwards we all end up at a local cafe and catch up on what’s been happening. It’s not compulsory to attend but if the weather is OK then there will be someone to ride with. Today for instance we had 13 riders, which might not sound a lot but is a good turnout for our little group. We ride around town on the shared walking/cycling paths and on the roads. It’s a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. When the rail trail opens we will be able to use it for our rides and be completely safe from log trucks and dangerous conditions. It will also be great for youngsters and will offer a place for families to have fun together.
Here are a few photos from today’s bike ride.
This is part of a post I wrote a few years ago which explains some of the background to my quest –
We have lived in this lovely town for over 25 years and this is one of the few times I have felt like this. I am disappointed and offended about the current discord from a minority of people in the area, while trying to get something so positive off the ground.
I am talking about the Rail Trail proposal from Tumbarumba to Rosewood. This project has been approved and funded by the State Government, and has the backing of the local council and the majority of the community, but we are still waiting for the final go ahead.
I am disappointed because I love riding, walking & running and have used such paths all over the world without incident and have seen the benefits they bring to individuals, towns and regions; I have noted the general decline in people’s fitness levels, the increase in obesity levels and the number of kids who no longer play outside and I genuinely think the rail trail proposal is a great initiative for everyone. The Rail Trail concept can (& has in other areas) help address all these issues with its easy gradients, beautiful countryside, exceptional engineering feats and accessibility. It can (& has) revived small dying towns by bringing a new type of tourist into them. I would love to be able to ride around the area safely and see other families do the same. I want everyone to be happy about this proposal and to see the many benefits – health, safety & economic benefits to name just a few. We are a progressive community in many ways and this is another example of how we can lead the way in NSW.
I am offended because a minority of people who oppose this proposal think that my husband and I, and my bike riding friends are the types of people who will perve on them, look at what is on their washing line, take & deliberately drop our garbage along the track, start fires, leave gates open, scare cattle, case their houses for what we can come back & steal later on and the list goes on. I can assure you that as I am pedalling by any houses, as I was today, my mind is on what I am doing, taking in the views, clearing my mind of all the day to day stuff, relaxing, thinking of what to write in my blog and dodging swooping magpies – I am not taking in the details of what is in your yard, what’s on your washing line and how I can be a terrorist by stealing your superphosphate.
I know that if the Rail Trail was to be positioned next to my place I would welcome it because of the many, many benefits. I would welcome it as a great place to ride, walk & run in safety away from the huge timber trucks on our narrow roads. The disused rail corridors are still owned by the State Government and despite being on people’s property are not their property. I can understand that in some cases the rail trail may go near to houses or property but these are things that can be addressed by talking to those involved and coming up with mutually acceptable solutions. Anyone who has ridden on the Wangaratta, Myrtleford or Bright rail trails (in Victoria) can see just how close some people’s property is, but apparently this hasn’t presented any major problems, despite initial concerns. It’s all about communication and finding a viable solution that suits everyone.
I am a proud bike rider and a proud local community minded resident of this amazing town. I would like to think that I am part of a pro-active community and I will be ever so proud when the Rail Trail gets up & running. I commend all those who are working hard to see this happen.
What are Rail Trails?
Rail trails are shared paths on abandoned/disused railway corridors. They are still publicly owned tracts of land despite being abandoned by the transport industry many years ago. The tracks are usually removed and replaced with road base, gravel or a sealed surface, so that the smooth gradient facilitated by the embankments, bridges and tunnels can be used by cyclists and walkers of all ages and abilities.
They are used in other states and around the world for safe walking and riding, by people in wheelchairs, or those pushing a pram. The easy gradients, with no steep hills, and the gentle curves designed for trains, work well.
Rail trails are scenic, usually very quiet and safe because of the great visibility ahead and behind and due to a lack of sharp bends and blind corners. No motorised transport (apart from mobility scooters and occasional maintenance and emergency vehicles) are permitted to use the trails.
For this challenge, show us what quest means to you.