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Many folks will offer different answers to this question. My answer is best explained by this story...

I stopped cycling roadways in 1988. For me, cycling enjoyment had dropped to an all time low, mostly due to automobile traffic (hey, maybe it's an age thing). I retired my bike to the basement where it would remain untouched for 9 years. I thought my days as a roadie had come to an end. But there was one great feeling from those road days that I'd almost forgotten until I rode my first rail-trail.

My road rides usually started with a trek into the country on county roads and rural highways. After miles of staying alert and on guard to the ever-present menace, the automobile, I'd reach my destination or turnaround point. For one particular ride my destination was a park. Not your run-of-the-mill picnic spot, but a nice large area by a lake with a few miles of paved roads inside that lead to campgrounds, a swimming beach, marina etc. This was a place where cars were much less of a threat and moved slowly. In short, a great place for cycling!

It was that magical turn off the rural highway and into the park that I remember so clearly. As I pedaled through the entrance the tension of the road would leave my body. I would feel my stress level drop and take a deep breath and let out a long sigh of relief. Ah, no more vehicles barreling along at 55+ miles per hour; I could relax for a while. As this relaxed mode would take over, a smile would creep across my face as I pedaled along relishing the park's 'bike friendly' environment. The combination of the lake, woods and bike riding was particularly appealing to me.

I never suspected that special feeling would return one day, but it did when I rode my first rail-trail in 1997. Trail riding sounded fun, especially the idea of riding where no automobiles were allowed. So I dusted off my bike to give it a try. I must admit that I had some trouble wiping the smile off my face during those early rides. And it's no mystery as to why, for rail-trails are basically linear parks! But there is one important difference. Trails allow no automobiles, not even the slow-moving kind.

Along with discovering Ohio bikeways has come a renewal of my spirit and passion for cycling. I'm back to riding the roads again, but trails will always be an intergral part of my cycling regime. Today I often use them in a number of different ways:

  • To make a ride more interesting and/or relaxing.
  • To avoid rush hour traffic or heavily congested areas.
  • To explore Ohio in a way much finer than from any car window or busy roadway.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Perhaps the most interesting product of my renewed appreciation for cycling and love of trails has also been the most unexpected: The creation of an Ohio bikeways web site!

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