GREENE COUNTY — If you’ve hit the many paved trails throughout Greene County in recent weeks, you may have come upon a group of volunteers from the Greene County Parks & Trails organization.
If you happened past Xenia Station, just south of downtown, you might’ve even seen me.
I’ve been employed as the sports editor for Greene County Newspapers for a little over four years now, and I have a confession to make: Up until that sunny, Saturday afternoon when I volunteered to man a survey booth at Xenia Station, I’d never experienced the many amazing trails that cross through our county and beyond.
I just never had the inkling to drag my sorry behind out to a trail just to embarrass myself on my 25-year-old mountain bike. But I’m really glad that I spent some time just talking with trail users and hearing their stories.
For me, it was quite a learning experience.
As we drive through downtown Xenia, we see people on the trails all the time and figure they’re just from the area. Just out to enjoy the day. But I learned that they just might be from another state!
I manned the Xenia Station booth for roughly 4 hours. In that short span of time, I met bicycle enthusiasts from California, Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania. During the same week at another survey station, GCP&T’s Gretchen Rives met up with trail users from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.
Local bikers from Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus and Zanesville also passed through Xenia Station on this day.
Two Kentucky Boy Scout troops passed Xenia Station about 2 hours apart from each other. Both were from the Louisville area, but had no idea that they were on the same trail!
One couple stopped off at the Station for a breather, while enjoying some free snacks and ice-cold water that the GCP&T folks were offering. They had begun their trek in Philadelphia and were headed out west.
“We have 70 more miles today, and then we can rest in Indiana,” laughed one of the riders.
I helped a fellow from Harrisburg, Pa. gather some information about area Bed & Breakfast establishments along the trails. The hope is that if he finds enough promising details on his excursion, that he’d like to bring a whole group of cycling enthusiasts out next summer for a weekend or two.
“You guys need to advertise these trails. They’re amazing!” said a woman from Terre Haute, Indiana, who was bicycling the trails for the first time. “People would come from all around to enjoy this place. We don’t have trails this nice back home. We’ll definitely be back.”
The Fat Boys bicycling group out of Columbus passed through while I was there. They ride to raise awareness for the ALS charity and had just rode in from Columbus on their way to a hotel in Fairborn. From there, they were going to stay over night and head down to Cincinnati on the bike trail, stay over night there, then head back up to Columbus the following day.
The brand spanking new Miami Valley Ohio Bikeways Guide Maps, released just a few weeks before the mid-September trail surveys took place, were a huge hit with the trail users.
Did you know that the 2,006-mile Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (from Alabama to Canada), the 688-mile US Bicycle Route 50 (from Maryland to Indiana), and the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail (from New York to North Dakota) all run through Greene County?
The GCP&T survey information was collected in order to show how the trails are used, and by whom. I figured we’d get a lot of surveys from Greene County folks, and that would pretty much be it. But the surveys were being filed from several states, just from our little stand outside of Xenia Station.
So smile at that bicyclist you see crossing Main Street, and give a wave to the ones heading north or south along Detroit Avenue. The person might be local, but it never hurts to give someone a friendly wave. Then again, the person might be discovering this part of the country for the very first time.
Welcome them, and their business with open arms.
They’ll bring their friends the next time.