One of the organizations that we both appreciate and support is the RTC, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy... I would like to explain why. RTC transforms old railroad routes that are no longer in use (duh) into some of the most scenic bikeways I have ever experienced. Jen and I have found some very beautiful roads to ride and are sure we will find more.... but with roads come autos which can be big distractions and raise safety concerns. We do own a car and admit that in the world today they are needed for quick long distant travel.... but they can be cumbersome to the bicyclists. On Rails-to-Trails there are no cars. And there are no hills. Since the railways were originally built for steam locomotives, and these big trains could not haul heavy loads up hills, they made the routes flat, literally cutting through the mountains. These same routes have become beautiful trails with amazing scenery that you just can't see by auto and they can be found in every state in the US.
Our first experience with Rails-to-Trails was in Ohio. It was a challenging time for us - we were staying with family, had totalled our truck and were feeling quite defeated and uncertain of our future. So we took a chance... we used what little money we had to buy mountain bikes, packed some stuff and set out on a bicycle trail not far from where we were staying. We did not know what a "Rail-to-Trail" was at the time. We just knew that there was a bicycle trail that ran to Cincinatti. We took our time (we were so not in shape) and spent many days (and nights) on that trail. I remember leaving Springfield and experiencing the beauty of the trail... and how everything just slowed down. There was peace there. The first night we outlaw camped outside of Yellow Springs. We woke up in the middle of the bright moonlit night and found we were surrounded by deer moving slowly all around us. In awe, we lay still just taking it all in. I think Jen and I both realized at that moment that our life was about to change for the better. And we were right. That was the first night and the rest of the trip was even more incredible. Taking in the beauty and visiting the small towns and people on the way showed us so much. It actually began restoring our faith in humanity and in ourselves. Our little trip on that bike trail was the beginning of a very life changing turn of events and some very good seeds were planted... seeds that have begun to grow in the life we are now so grateful to have... seeds that next Spring will grow into a ride across the United States.
Our bike trip in Ohio led us to where we now live in North Carolina and we have continued to ride the nearby Rails-to-Trails with each one having it's own special quality. The nearest one to us at this time is the American Tobacco Trail. We plan to have a short bike rally for the organization 350 there in October.
There are many, many miles of train tracks not in use in these United States today. They just sit there rotting and rusting. With CO2 reaching levels never experienced on this earth in millions of years and the devastation it is causing our planet... I believe more bicycling could be a simple and fun way for many people to become a part of the solution. Unused railroad routes link small communities together and could provide a safe environment for not only bicyclists but also for pedestrians, skaters, and even horseback riders. Anyway just wanted to let you know and if you haven't experienced a Rail-to-Trail go check one out and see for yourself. Then you will understand why we choose to support this incredible organization. I will leave this with a song by one of our favorite artists Jack Johnson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jISrnID-CI Love you all and have a peaceful day.