How we lost then got the bike trails back again
As many of you already know, I’ve been taking trail runs along the Vedder River Rotary Trail by bike on nearly a daily basis since I discovered them a few years back.
But we had what I call a scare lately in my own little world… which I’d like to share with you. Not only does it have a good ending, I feel it also has some very good lessons attached…
I haven’t written anything yet on our new normal way of life, so consider this part 1… with possibly more stories to come if you are interested. Because this topic effects so many, I feel it’s a time in life that deserves a little respectful documenting…
On losing the trails
Due to the nice weather, many congregate along certain areas of the Vedder River Rotary Trail (located in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) during certain times of day, to the point where the new physical distance safety measures were really being challenged.
Thing is, a new way of life is just that. It’s all new and unknown. So everything is naturally a learning experience.
I myself have taken the new health suggestions very seriously, so when I noticed certain parts of the trails were mayhem-busy, I no longer gravitated towards those areas, but rather, chose other much quieter trails so I could have them to myself and ride to my heart’s content, vs. endless negotiation over desired extra space. No issues, right?
So I chose dusk, and even inclement weather, getting caught in the rain numerous times.
I just didn’t care when I used them. The bike trail escape was far more important to me than perfect conditions. And of course, safety ranked #1 in my book regardless or I wouldn’t use them at all.
However as the days grew nicer, people tended to gather in higher volume at popular times of day in certain areas. It got congested to the point of me avoiding those areas completely. No big deal. There’s plenty of trail to go around! Just pick and choose.
But understandably, complaints did reach the city because of the congestion. My main concern was seeing them close the trails completely. I held my breath, and did the only thing I could do… stay away from people if I chose to use them.
Then a chopping block hit. No more bikes nor horses would be allowed on the inner, prettiest trails all summer long due to lack of physical distancing.
Bikes and horses?! What in the world?!
Didn’t they know that most of the trails were empty?!
I was just beside myself.
Why these trails mean so much to me
Back when I got my foot operated on, it’s never been quite the same. I can only walk for short bursts.
But when I discovered bike riding, it changed my world. I could finally get outdoors and actually LOVE the way I did it… pain-free!
That’s when I discovered all these incredible trails nearly on my own doorstep. So more I went out, the stronger I got, and the trails even got prettier the further I went! What a gift!
These forest trails had become my daily stress relief and fix. And with the mere thought of losing them? I didn’t do well with it by a long shot. They were exactly what I needed, specially right now in our current climate.
Let’s try a country road…
So the very next day, while I was still in shock over the decision to ban bikes, I made myself get on that bike and hit the country roads instead. I had to try. Because my mental well being and nature escape completely relied on where I could take my bike.
I packed my camera and challenged myself to find beauty right where I was planted… which was along the roads for the time-being.
And yes, I did find pretty captures that spoke to me.
My rides have become about so much more than simple exercise. It’s also about the thrill of the capture, as if I can take a little bit of that magic home with me, especially when I get to share it with you on my daily social media stories and on the blog from time to time.
Visit MANY other bike rides and their beautiful captures HERE
Beautiful spring flower-covered trees sprawled along the roads. Long, lush fresh grass filled the landscape.
And even running into other’s sweet little fur babies (cats) was such a treat and an opportunity for a quick cuddle or tummy rub.
But traffic darted past me dangerously close. I wasn’t use to that.
And I felt it a challenge to take pictures that didn’t also document others’ properties in more of a private aspect. That didn’t feel right.
And the gaps between taking pretty pictures were long. In short, there was more normal road stuff than pretty views.
Nature trails were just… different.
Thing is, this decision just felt wrong… and drastic. I wasn’t the only one that needed a bike to get around. Families with children, others that use a bike for a low impact work out or to feel safer when out alone… why not come up with a better solution for all?!
I wasn’t accepting this well.
A neighbourhood bike ride video
Click above to view a little glimpse of my road-side ride that day…
( A bridge forest view on the south side of the Vedder River Rotary Trail just beyond the Vedder River Campground )
While the country meander was lovely at times, all I felt was the loss of what once was, and just needed those bike trails back. Who doesn’t want to ride through surroundings that look like a picture-puzzle everywhere you look?!
So with 1 shred of hope left, I decided to try something productive instead…
Becoming part of the solution
I had fired up a trail facebook group (for those that use the trails) on the very trails I love, and made a suggestion for members to respectfully and diplomatically write their thoughtful stories on how the loss of the trails affected them, and offer up some workable solutions. Not just complain.
As for myself, I made the suggestion that perhaps bikes and horses could be allowed back on the trails during non-peak hours. Seemed like a reasonable request, since most trails were empty and bare by that time.
( A rustic tree-hung swing along Brown Creek Wetlands along the Vedder River Rotary Trail )
As luck would have it, I wasn’t the only one with something to say. Our city’s FB page got flooded with opinions as well. I hadn’t realized how large our bike and horse community was.
And it wasn’t that bikes or horses were completely banned… they were allowed on our main river dikes which resemble gravel highways. Anything that resembled a quaint windy trail was off limits to us or quite a distance away and in very short supply at this point.
But boy was it frustrating riding the boring straight gravel river dike while riding along a completely empty whimsical winding forest path…
So anyway, many emailed and then we carried on with life, silently hoping for change. At least we tried, right?
Getting the bike trails back
Two days later, I among many others received a return email which changed EVERYTHING.
Apparently the trail officials heard us well… and decided to visit the trails to see what the issues were for themselves and actually talk to those using the trails.
But because of the outpouring of interest in the subject, they decided to reverse their decision!
So they revamped all the new closure signs they just installed with revamped directions on how to use the trails safely!
BIKES AND HORSES WERE WELCOME BACK!
I’m just beyond impressed that our city took such a compassionate approach, reversing a really big decision in such short order! It makes me feel proud to live where I do.
( A branch teepee spotted inside the forest along Brown Creek Wetlands )
Once again, my bike ride trail adventures can and will continue!
( A wetlands view along the Vedder River Rotary Trail in Brown Creek Wetlands )
A new kind of summer
I haven’t been home during summer in many years. We often have skies filled with forest fire smoke, and running away to Hawaii had become my summer norm.
Back in winter, I had mused that perhaps I could travel in spring instead, then really sink in to what our own summers offered, sharing nearby sights with you instead, and working more on the outside of my home.
I had my finger on a VRBO listing back in Feb to book for spring to jump-start my new plans, but something felt off. And then March hit. Still felt off. Hearing the news sink in from elsewhere in the world was frightening.
And then our restrictions hit, and just like that, my new plans were official. I would indeed be home for the summer. By force. Minus the spring trip of course…
( Spotting hand-painted rocks including this cute shark along the Vedder River Rotary Trail )
Having these trails to escape to daily was a part of my stay home plan though! And the mere thought of losing them was something I just couldn’t accept.
And I’m glad I didn’t have to.
A stretch of trail along the wetlands on the Vedder River Rotary Trail
I suppose I would have somehow managed a summer without these trails.
( A rustic trail bridge facing the Blue Heron Reserve along the Vedder River Rotary Trail )
I’m just SO grateful I don’t have to try!
( The wetlands along Peach Trail along the Vedder River Rotary Trail )
Best bike bell fix ever
One big issue appeared to be that walkers were startled with bikers approaching. Here’s what I personally do…
I hang a free-hung bell on my bike so it jingles constantly. This kind of bike bell alerts walkers from a further distance than they could even hear me shout out to them or ring a bike bell. Since using that bell, I have not had to request passing room. Walkers hear me, and they move way before I approach them.
Hanging bells work!
You can hear how the bell sounds in the video at the bottom of this post. It’s wonderful!
Read more about my fav bike gear in THIS post.
( A meandering stretch of Peach Trail )
Isn’t this spring shot breathtaking?!
( Peach Trail )
( The wetlands along Peach Trail )
As you can see, the spring grass and growth is in full swing along the trails and in the wetlands, filling up every crack and crevice with bursting intense beauty everywhere you look.
May ride video
Click above to watch a current ride of what I get to experience and share with you every single day of the year!
( The wetlands meet country lane along Peach Trail )
I am very fortunate to have these amazing trails within my own community, and I feel to use them safely (or not at all) really is the only option.
But I feel even more grateful to live in a community where those in charge have shown consideration to how others feel.
And I’m impressed with the fact that a respectful request can be a lot more effective than an angry one!
Not to mention, never stop trying in something you believe in…
I also wonder if losing something makes getting it back even more special?
Let’s hope special enough so we can ALL continue to use the trails… safely.
Has your own area recommended you stay close to home this summer too?
What special area will you be gravitating towards?
Other related posts you may enjoy:
Learn how to find the Vedder River Rotary Trail HERE
And visit all my other bike trail story posts HERE