Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Bill Klingner Trail is impressive

  THIS SUMMER I'VE been getting into riding the bike. It's great exercise and a fun way to explore Quincy.

We tend to live in our own little worlds and are creatures of habit. Riding the bike breaks habits and it's fun to veer off traditional paths and discover the many neighborhoods that make up our fine city.

Until last month, I didn't know about the Bill Klingner trail, and I suspect a lot of Quincyans have yet to check it out. That's OK, because it's world-class and the less people know about it, the better. More room for us, right?

The trail starts at Parker Heights off of Bonansinga Drive. It winds all the way up to 24th street, and if haven't been on it and are just looking for a leisurely pedal, you might want to ease into it and enter from Bob Mays Park on 18th, because it's a steady uphill climb from the bottom road to 24th. There are only two real tough stretches, one when you first enter and another between what would be 8th and 9th streets. Going up, or east, is a great workout, and the reward is going back down without doing much pedaling.

You go over Cedar Creek a bunch of times on bridges, there's tons of green space, and the other day I saw rabbits, squirrels and even a deer wading in Cedar Creek. You pass the tip of the Veterans Home cemetery, go under several massive arched bridges, and while the trail does twist and turn a bit, there are no blind corners or really dangerous spots.

The trail is used and used a lot. Yesterday morning there was a bunch of kids running, probably a club or school team, and it was a bit hard to pass them because they were spread and on the wrong side of the trail. The pavement is wide and clearly marked with a yellow line down the middle. This leads to another point for cyclists, and the ones I've seen on the trail follow this rule - SLOW DOWN. When you are coming up somebody from behind, don't blast past them, especially if they have a leashed dog with them.

The other night I came up on a grandma and grandpa walking with their very young grandson. I could see the little boy was weaving around and very excited about the adventure. So I slowed way down, and sure enough, he jumped right out in front of me. He was in no danger of being hit, and the grandparents were a little embarrassed. I assured them it was fine, and I think a generational family walk like that on a beautiful trail is indeed a beautiful thing!

Also, wear a helmet. I've never been much for wearing one before but I am now, and it's because you can't predict what the other guy is going to do.

I wish there were more ways to access the trail for bikers. Right now Bonansinga Drive is an excellent way to go because the city is tearing up Broadway below the Bayview Bridge. So there isn't much traffic. I have noticed a lot of loud pickup trucks tend to blast down the road, and I mean blast. There is a bike path on either side of the road and it feels safe, but it's still unnerving when a vehicle roars past you at excessive speed.

Bob Mays Park is a great place to park and then go on the trail, but getting to it from the south end of town on bike means going over the Tom Awerkamp bridge by Quincy University's North Campus. Going south means barreling down a steep incline. Coming up the bridge is a huge challenge. Not sure if there's something to make it safer, and I only go down the bridge if it's a little later in the evening.

These are minor issues. Lately I've been going down Bonansinga Drive, up and down the trail, then going back into town up Cedar Street. The another night I managed to get up Cedar to 3rd Street, a very steep incline, and up pulled Cori Powell-Green and family, laughing at my out-of-shapeness. Hey. I'm trying! And the more I do it, the better I feel.

A ton of planning and work went into building the trail, and there are more plans to eventually extend it east from 24th. I'm just grateful for the two miles they've built and it's a stunning testament to the beauty of our parks and trails system.

Check it out for yourself if you haven't been on the trail. I guarantee you'll love it.


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