Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mountain Biking on the Air Line Trail

My friend Peter Waite and I drove to East Hampton and we mountain biked the Air Line Trail for 2-3 hrs. I was previously a competent mountain biker. I never competed in a mountain bike race but I completed the mountain bike leg in several multi-sport team events. In the past I made some very technical mountain bike rides but the Air Line Trail ride was not, by any means, technical. Yet, while recovering from a TBI, a bike ride like the Air Line Trail was very challenging. I’ll put it into perspective; things that athletically challenge me today would have been a “walk-in-the-park” in my former life. None-the-less, I'm pleased. It's wild rediscovering my old/former life.

Peter snapped some photos. Here they are:

I found a very complete brochure about the Air Line Trail on GOOGLE;

The Air Line Trail is the site of the former Air Line Railroad, built to connect Boston with New York City in the shortest route possible - as if by a “line” drawn through the “air” via the city of New Haven. The Air Line Railroad was a controversial project because of such obstacles as the Connecticut River and countless ridges, along with its exclusion of the capitol city of Hartford.

Nevertheless, by 1873, this railroad was functioning from New Haven to Willimantic. At these points, the Air Line was able to link with other rail lines to connect New York and Boston in the shortest way then possible. The freight and passenger trains utilizing the Air Line became quite numerous. By 1877, Colchester center was linked to the Air Line at Turnerville (now Amston) via the Colchester Railroad. As the weight of freight trains increased over the years, the Air Line’s weight restricting viaducts, numerous curves, and high grades eventually led to its decline.

The Air Line Rail Trail is located in eastern Connecticut, and stretches more than 50 miles from near the Connecticut River to the Massachusetts border. It is divided into two sections. The South Section starts in East Hampton and ends in Willimantic, with the Colchester Spur branching into the center of the town of Colchester. The North Section continues from Willimantic to Thompson, and connects with the Massachusetts Southern New England Trunk Line trail. Portions of the trail are still undeveloped, but under the management of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the local municipalities that the trail passes through, the trail is an important link with the past and preserves open space for the future.

The trail is highlighted by panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Two dramatic viaducts tower 150 feet above the rivers that iron trestle bridges once crossed. New footbridges cross high over the Blackledge and Jeremy Rivers, allowing hikers and bikers to marvel at the expansive views of the scenery below. Scenic views of the Goodwin State Forest and Conservation Center, Beaver Brook State Park, the Hampton reservoir, the Salmon River State Forest, and Grayville Falls Park make the Air Line Rail Trail one of the best greenways in Connecticut.

The surface is stone dust in East Hampton, Colchester, and Hebron. The trail is appropriate for walking, horseback riding, biking, cross country skiing, and mountain biking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,

There just seems to be no limit to your accomplishments.

Thanks for your informative summary of the Airline Rail Road. Seems interesting that these small towns you mention used to be important hubs. Now that I know about it I want to take my son Jason there for a hike.

My best,