Nov
13
2014

The warmest weather of 2014 is in our past now, but the Miami Valley Trails remain open and inviting through the Fall.  Be sure to get one last outing on your favorite trail before the first polar vortex hits this winter!

Welcome to the Fall 2014 edition of Trail Talk, the quarterly newsletter of the Miami Valley Bike Trails. In this edition we happily report on the grand opening of the Robert J. Shook Bridge in Piqua, Ohio along the Great Miami River Trail in both words and pictures. We also share a few links to some great blogging about the Ohio-to-Erie Trail, including the part of that route that runs through the Miami Valley, and also about Winter Riding Tips. You'll find an update on the Simon Kenton Trail to the top of Ohio: Bellefontaine. The web site has a new page with links and resources for Bike Commuting that we'd like you to see, and finally we have a couple of photos of new bike ramps from the Great Miami Trail in downtown Dayton. Remember: gear down, spin more, stay warm!  Enjoy!

The Robert J. Shook Bridge is Open!

Piqua, Ohio – The Great Miami River Trail is now complete in Miami County as construction on the Robert J. Shook Bikeway Bridge comes to an end.  The official bridge dedication ceremony was held on October 3 at the bridge located in Farrington Reserve. The ceremony, held on the bridge with some on-and-off rain, was attended by scores of trail supporters, friends of the Miami County Park District and friends of Bob Shook, the man of the hour.

With the bridge now open, cyclists, walkers and runners can travel on one continuous trail from Piqua to Troy where it connects to over 330 miles of bikeway in southwestern Ohio. The Great Miami River Trail now runs continuously from Piqua in the north to Franklin, Ohio in the south.

The bridge is named after Robert J. Shook, long-time bike trail advocate and chairman of the Miami County Trails Task Force. “The Park District Board of Commissioners thought it would be fitting to honor Bob and his efforts by naming the bridge after him,” says J. Scott Myers the executive director for the Miami County Park District.  “Bob’s commitment to completing the bikeway has been unwavering, even in the face of tough obstacles.”

Discussions about a the north/south bikeway through Miami County began in 1999 when the County commissioners appointed Shook to head up the Task Force.  Since that time, he has volunteered countless hours to make this vision a reality. “It was a labor of love and a lot of tough work to get it done; but it was worth it,” said Shook.

Also announced at the ceremony was the creation of the Barbara Sharkey Shook Bikeway Enhancement Fund of the Troy Foundation. This fund will receive donations to continue beautification and enhancement of the Great Miami River Trail in Miami County. Potential donors may contact the Troy Foundation or the Miami County Park District for more details.

The bikeway has become an important asset for the community and on any given day, hundreds of people use it as part of a healthy lifestyle.  With the completion of the bridge, all sections of the trail in Miami County have been completed making it part of the Nation’s largest network of paved, off-street trails. 

The Columbus Dispatch, this summer, posted a series of biking blogs by Steve Wartenberg as he chronicled his ride along the whole length of the Ohio-to-Erie Trail.  Day One, of course, was spent on the Miami Valley Trails.  Read Steve's blog posts here.

Simon Kenton Trail Extension

All this year the Simon Kenton Pathfinders have been hard at work to start and complete a project to extend the Simon Kenton Trail by another 16 miles. The new section continues north from Urbana through West Liberty to Bellefontaine. In looking through our records and archives, we cannot find that there was ever a single trail project that added 16 miles all at once, so this is truly a historic endeavour! As described earlier, the new trail will be unique in the Miami Valley Trails, becuase initially it will be built with packed crushed limestone, rather than asphalt paving. This choice allowed for the Pathfinders to construct the full length - all the way to Bellefontaine - all in one project. The trail is being constructed in a way that can accommodate a future project to re-pave the trail with asphalt.

Construction began in July, and proceeded through the summer.  The project hit unfortunate snags from a helicopter crash at the very beginning of construction and illegal ATV use on the not quite completed trail. These issues slowed, but have not stopped, progress on the trail. As of October 2014, the new trail is completed and open for bikers, runners, and walkers! As part of the construction process, the construction contractor is scheduled to "re-roll" the trail surface next spring, so look out for notice of that work on Miami Valley Bike Trails. 

Trail users can access the new section of the Simon Kenton Trail from three suggested parking areas:

  • Miami Street in Urbana, Ohio
  • Sidney Street at Ohio 245 in West Liberty, Ohio
  • Carter Street in Bellefontaine, Ohio

The Mad River Market south of West Liberty along US 68 also welcomes you to park and hop on the trail just a quarter mile away. Many thanks to The Simon Kenton Pathfinders and the City of Bellefontaine for taking th elead on this great project. We are especially grateful to Mayor Adan Brannon and SKP President Nancy Lokai-Baldwin for their tireless efforts to see this project through!

Winter Riding

Here's a link list for you about bike riding in the cold weather seasons. Remember that the Miami Valley Trails are open all winter long, but with the shorter days comes an earlier sunset. Some sections of the trails are cleared after snowfalls and some are not, so be prepared for different riding conditions across the network.

Dashing Through the Snow: Winter Bike Commuting Basics from People For Bikes

Embrace the Season: 5 Tips for Winter Cycling from Active.com

The Rules of Winter Cycling from Bikewinter.org

Winter Tips from Bike Anchorage (they should know a thing or two)

Commuting by Bike Page

The Miami Valley Bike Trails are a tremendous asset for the greater Dayton region, and they serve trail users of many types and ages throughout the year.  That includes the people who use parts of the trails to commute by bike to work!  The Miami Valley Bike Trails web site has set up a new page to provide a few pointers and tips for anyone out there thinking about using their bike to get to work once-in-a-while. Check out this new page here.

New Bike Ramps in Dayton

The City of Dayton recently completed a nice little project to make the Miami Valley Trails just that much more accessible for our users. When the original dowtown Dayton loop was built in the 1970's access points known as "bike stairs" were installed in numerous locations to allow trail users to walk up to the top of the flood control levees. A groove along the side of the steps is intended for bike wheels. Since that time, we have become more and more aware that bike stairs are only minimally useful as access points.  They are not ADA compliant of course, but they are not usefull for people with non-standard bikes, like recumbents, trikes or when pulling trailers.  Well, the city of Dayton this summer replaced a set of bike stairs on the Great Miami River Trail at Fifth Street near Sinclair Community College in downtown.  These two new ramps (one on each side of the river) much more comfortably connect the city to the Miami Valley Trails!.  Thanks, Dayton!