To the Editor:
As someone who is an avid bicycle rider, cross country skier and hiker I want to weigh in on the discussion about the possible conversion of the existing railroad corridor to a multiuse recreational trail.
Regarding cycling, there are two basic types of cyclists; those who are road bikers and those who are off road or mountain bikers. Mountain bikers like a trail system that has lots of changing terrain and challenging twists and turns. The trail surface should be dirt and mud is accepted as part of the pleasure of the rides. Road bikers on the other hand most prefer paved surfaces and are looking for “loop” trails or for through routes that can be used for commuting or for long distance travel. Both groups enjoy having good parking and or amenities near the trails they want to use.
My wife and I have done extensive riding in many parts of the US and elsewhere and have experienced many forms of bike trails. Rail to trail conversions like the Warren County trail in the Glens Falls Lake George area and the Cape Cod Rail Trail are examples of excellent systems. Both are paved, both are in areas where there is a large recreational population and multiple access points. They both also have some interesting terrain along the route as they do not stick just to prior rail routes. On the other hand, the NYS Erie Canal Trail, the C&O Canal Trail and Le Petit’ Nord Rail Trail in the Montreal area are unpaved and incredibly flat trails. We have ridden sections of both of these canal trails and became bored after just 15 miles and sought out nearby roads to complete our rides. The Petit’ Nord Trail was even more discouraging. Every few miles we had to dismount and work our way around downed trees or other obstructions due to limited maintenance. A flat rail trail near Red Wing Minnesota that is paved is better but even that one is most enjoyable when used as a loop using roads for the return trip.