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Tandem biking Rails to Trails

            Tom and Kathy Pickering have spent a lifetime being active. Career educators who retired from the Pickens County School System in 2011, the couple now spend their time hiking, biking, traveling and hanging out with their children and grandchildren.

            The active and outdoorsy lifestyle is a big draw for them and, for the past 30 years the husband and wife duo have spent a lot of time riding Atlanta’s Silver Comet Trail, often on a tandem bike.

            The following was submitted by Tom for our Good Vibes series about their hobby of bike riding on Rails to Trails bike paths:

            “Rails to Trails is a term used to describe abandoned railroads that have been converted into multiuse trails that are used by hikers, bikers, bike riders and some allow horseback riding. Most of these trails are family friendly since the grade is usually 10% or less and can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels. 

            We started this around 30 years ago on the Silver Comet Trail outside of Atlanta. We would ride sections of the Silver Comet Trail several times a year and would also make a couple of trips each year to the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia.

            About 15 years ago, some friends invited us to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri which is the longest Rails to Trails in the U.S. at 240 miles. Since then, we have ridden about 20 other trails, some of them multiple times. Our longest ride to date has been on the Greater Allegheny Passage Trail which starts in Pittsburg and joins with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail in Cumberland, Maryland and continues to Washington, D. C for a total of 350 miles. 

            Tom and Kathy Pickering enjoy spending time biking our country’s Rails to Trails paths, multiuse trails across the U.S. that have been converted from abandoned train tracks into multiuse trails for hikers and bikers.
            The couple often bike the paths on a tandem bike.

            While some of our trips have been multiday trips of long distances, a lot of our riding has been day trips of 30 miles or less. Most of our bike riding has been in the southeast, although we would like to expand and see if we can ride a trail in each state.       Currently,  it is estimated that there are over 2,100 Rails to Trails in the U.S., don’t think we can make them all, but would like to try. 

            One other thing to note is that we have done most of these trails on a tandem bike.” 

            He continued: “In 2008 the Silver Comet Trail in Atlanta joined with the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama to form the second longest paved Rail to Trail in the country at 94 miles. A bike rider can now get on the trail in Smyrna and ride a paved bike trail all the way to Anniston, Alabama. Plans are under way to connect the Silver Comet to the Atlanta Beltline which will add about 30 more miles to the trail. There is also a Rails to Trails Facebook group where people post pictures and reviews about trails all over the country. 

For anyone interested in pursuing this hobby, here’s some information regarding The Silver Comet Trail

Kathy and Tom pictured on their longest ride so far on the Greater Allegheny Passage Trail which starts in Pittsburg and joins with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail in Cumberland, Maryland and continues to Washington,
DC for a total of 350 miles. 

            The Silver Comet is a paved pedestrian rail-trail located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. It is 61.5 miles long, free of charge, and travels through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. This quiet, non-motorized trail is for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, horses, dog walkers, and is mostly wheelchair accessible.

            The Silver Comet starts at the Mavell Road Trailhead in Smyrna and ends at the Georgia/Alabama state line near Cedartown and the Esom Hill Trailhead. At the Georgia/Alabama state line, the Silver Comet Trail connects to the 33-mile long Chief Ladiga Trail. Both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga are fully paved rail-trails built on abandoned railroad lines.

             The combined Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trail length is estimated to be 94.5 paved miles from Smyrna, Georgia to Anniston, Alabama.

Kathy is pictured next to the New River Trail near Galax, Virginia. Beautiful scenery like this awaits bikers and hikers along the estimated 2,100 miles of Rails to Trails paths throughout the United States.

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