Joined: 09 Sep 2005
|Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:18 am Post subject: Ashland Independent Article - 2006 LBS Relay
|A new train
Horseback riders, bikers hit the trail
By KENNETH HART
The (Ashland) Independent, Published: July 23, 2006
RUSH — A number area residents straddled bicycles and climbed aboard horses Saturday to help muster support for a project many believe could eventually become one of northeastern Kentucky’s largest tourism magnets.
Cyclists and horseback riders participated in the Lexington-Big Sandy Trail bike relay, which was ran on the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed from Lexington to Rush.
The goal of the relay was to raise local awareness of, and support for, turning the former train route into a hiking, biking and horseback trail. The Kentucky Rails to Trails Council is pushing for development of the path.
The route was abandoned by CSX Transportation about 20 years ago and passes from Lexington through Winchester, Mount Sterling, Morehead and Olive Hill before ending on the western edge of Boyd County.
“We think the trail could be a real asset to the community,” said Jim Ross of Flatwoods, president of the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts, which had 11 members take part in the relay. “It could be a big part of the overall plan to develop tourism in the area.”
The portion of the rail bed that lies in Carter County would be particularly attractive to hikers and bikers because it has two former railroad tunnels that could easily be tied into the trail, Ross said.
ACE members participated in the final two legs of the relay — from Grahn to Hitchins and from Hitchins to Rush, Ross said.
In addition to bringing in more tourism dollars, the proposed trail could help improve the region’s overall health picture, said Melanie Bailey-Riffe of Ashland, another member of the ACE.
Bailey-Riffe noted that northeastern Kentucky has among the highest rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the state. That could change, she said, if people had a place where they could ride bikes or take scenic walks without having to be concerned about motorized vehicle traffic.
“I think you’d have a lot more people out there biking if they knew they had a place where they could do it safely,” she said.
Also, Bailey-Riffe said, it stands to reason that the increased tourism the trail would bring in would spur business development. Numerous businesses, including restaurants, cafes and bike shops, have sprung up along rail trails that have been created in other states, she said.
Joining the ACE bicyclists on Saturday’s ride were about 14 members of the Eastern Hills Saddle Club, a horseback-riding organization based in Olive Hill. The riders joined the relay in Olive Hill and rode the former rail bed to Grahn, said Jesse Oney, the club’s president.
“It was great,” he said. “We had a good, cool day to do it, and everybody had a great time.”
Oney said nothing would please him more than to see the entire length of the rail corridor developed into a scenic trail.
“It would open up a whole lot of riding for us, and it would give more people the chance to see some of the prettiest country in the world,” he said.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2654.
Posted by Dixie Moore, Secretary KRTC