On August 28, I’m scheduled to give a program for the noon Kiwanis in Goshen. I’ve given two presentation to the Elkhart Optimists in the past month, so the framework will be the same. However, instead of talking about who uses the trail, I’m going to change that section to why people like the trail. Here are the main reasons:
- It’s safe. Numerous people have told me how much they enjoy biking when they don’t have to worry about sharing the road with cars because they don’t trust the drivers to see them and respect them. Who can argue with the fact that we’ve had three cyclist deaths in Elkhart County this year. A neighbor of mine refuses to ride on the road. She loads her bicycle into the back of her car and drives to Abshire Park to ride the trail. Other adults who ride on the road have children or grandchildren who are too young to do so. When I ride with my grandson, who is five, we ride the trail. Ironic, isn’t it, that today people praise the safety of the trail that opponents said would a magnet for crime, drugs and vandalism.
- It’s flat. Railroads were built with a grade of two percent or less. For that reason, their abandoned roadbed makes an ideal place for most riding. I know that some cyclists like the challenge of hills. Fine, enjoy them all you want. Most people enjoy flat lands. The Pumpkinvine, built for the most part on an old railroad bed, is flat. How flat is it? The verticle rise between Middlebury and Shipshewana is about 60 feet over about six miles, or 10 feet per mile. That’s flat.
- It’s cool. Where we were able to put the trail on the old Pumpkinvine right of way, it’s tree lined and shady. On the hottest days this year, it would feel 10 degrees cooling riding in the shade compared to riding in the sun. ___ Percent of the trail is tree lined. The trees also provide a windbreak on windy days.
- It’s interesting. You see all ages of people walking and riding, a variety of bicycles and riding styles. You also see wildflowers, wild turkeys, deer, birds, dogs and a variety of farm animals — horses, cattle, sheep and at CR 1150W — camels. You see 19th century farming with horses, like a spread out version of Conner Prairie. Soon there will be buffalo west of CR 37.
Those are the main reasons people like the Pumpkinvine.