Aug 29

Trailsnet Comments Working Again

Comments Finally Functional Again on Trailsnet.com

trails discussion forum

Lets Talk Trails!!!

If you are here to take the “Bicycles in the Wilderness” poll, that is located directly beneath this blog-post.

For those of you who have tried leaving comments on Trailsnet.com, I’m sorry that it has not been working for over a year now. I finally bit the bullet and had a professional look at the website and make the correction. (Thanks Syahir!!) The comments are working once again, so please feel free to leave comments on Trailsnet blog-posts, pages and trail entries. Trailsnet has always been meant to be an interactive website where trail enthusiasts could discuss, debate and exchange ideas with each other. Thank goodness Trailsnet comments are back on and it is now an interactive trails forum again.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/08/29/trailsnet-comments-working-again/

Aug 27

Should Bicycles Be Allowed On Wilderness Trails?

Should bikes be allowed on wilderness trails?
  • 25.81% - ( 8 votes )
  • 41.94% - ( 13 votes )
  • 32.26% - ( 10 votes )

You will see the current results of the poll after you cast your vote. Feel free to share the poll on your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. And thanks to Outside magazine for getting this discussion started on their Facebook page.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/08/27/should-bicycles-be-allowed-on-wilderness-trails/

Aug 20

Prana Convertible Pants Review

Convertible Pants Are Perfect for Active Travel

convertible pants

Prana Khaki Convertible Pants

Autumn is just around the corner, and that means cool mornings and warm afternoons. That also means you’ll need a different wardrobe in the afternoon than you do in the morning. You’ll probably want to start your day with long sleeved shirts and full length pants to beat the chill. Then it’s easy to shed that long-sleeved shirt once things start to warm up. But what about the pants? Most trails don’t have changing stations along the way, and most of us active travelers don’t want to carry a full change of clothing around in our day pack. Therein lies the beauty of convertible pants. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, those are the pants that allow you to zip off the bottom half so they become shorts. They are great for hiking, biking, climbing and active travel touring such as a Mosel River Bike Tour. It’s easy to dress in layers on the top half, but much less so on the bottom. But convertible pants solve that problem.

Prana Convertible Pants

Up until recently though, convertible pants meant a poor fit and a dorky look. Plus, the early convertible pants were heavy, bulky and uncomfortable. But the folks at Prana have solved that problem. The Prana convertible pants fit beautifully, look great and are really comfortable. No more bulky fabric, finicky zippers, or “one-size-fits-all” mentality. The Prana Zion convertibles are likely the best convertible pants on the market for the following reasons:

  • Both the men’s and women’s pants look great.
  • The abrasion-resistant fabric is extremely durable for those grueling days on the trail.
  • The stretch material assures a lightweight, comfortable fit for most body types.
  • The Prana convertible pants dry quickly, so they are a great choice for backpacking and active travel.
  • The cinch belt keeps these convertible pants snug all throughout the day, even without a belt.
  • The zip-off shorts make it easy to add or remove the bottom portion for warm afternoons on the trail and cool evenings around camp.
  • The Prana Size & Fit Guide make it easy to find the correct size for your individual needs.
  • With six different sizing options and three inseam options, Prana provides you with a total of 18 different fit options for their convertible pants.
  • The Prana convertible pants come in three stylin’ colors so you’ll be the most fashionable hiker, biker or climber in your group.
convertible shorts photo

Prana Convertible Shorts

Tips for Buying Prana Convertible Pants

If you mostly use your Prana convertibles to explore the local trails in your area, then by all means purchase all three color options. They look great and will offer you six different style options. (three shorts and three pants) But keep in mind that Prana pants are fantastic for active travel touring and backpacking due to their durability, versatility and quick-drying material. For travel and backpacking, especially on longer trips, I recommend taking multiple pairs of the same color of pants. That allows you to color-coordinate all of your shirts to match this one color. On a recent trail tour in Europe, I was able to get by with nothing but Prana convertible shorts/pants as my lower extremity wardrobe. That made it much easier to plan which shirts to pack on the trip. And I found that many of the European trail destinations offered cool mornings well into June, so the option to start the day in pants and switch over to shorts midday was ideal. Zipping off the leg portion literally took less than a minute and stowing the bottoms in my daypack was a cinch.

logo for Prana activewear

Prana Logo

So when you’re considering a trail wardrobe for yourself or a gift for fellow active travelers, consider Prana activewear clothing for the yoga lover, bike rider, trail hiker, backpacker or active traveler on your list. They may become your new favorite clothing option. And, for a limited time, Prana is running their #7daystretch promotion wear you can get 15% off of your Prana clothing purchase when you enter the code 7DayStretchF15TN upon checkout.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/08/20/prana-convertible-pants-review/

Jul 10

U.S. 36 Bikeway Update

Boulder to Denver Bikeway

U.S. 36 bikeway

U.S. 36 bikeway

I really want to give you some good news about the trail formerly known as the Boulder to Denver Bikeway. I was hoping  that “phase 1” of the cycleway would be completed by now. But alas, I suppose if they’re having this much trouble figuring out what to call the bike path, (first touted as the Boulder to Denver Bikeway and now being called the U.S. 36 Bikeway) then actually getting the trail completed might be asking for a lot.

A Tale of Two Bikeways

It turns out that the portion of U.S. 36 Bikeway that was supposed to be finished by early June 2015 is still incomplete. But let’s take a look at the portion that is completed. Since we’re going to call this major urban connector trail two different names, let’s go ahead and stick with that theme and divide the currently completed bikeway into two segments.

Louisville to Church Ranch:

This section will be defined as safe but confusing. Bicyclists can ride this section of the trail without crossing any major roads. They may get lost several times because this section is completely free of directional signage. But at least they can ride it without taking their lives into their hands.

Church Ranch to Sheridan:

Let’s label this particular section of the trail as dangerous but well-sign-posted. Once you get to Church Ranch Blvd., you are expected to cross a major intersection in order to continue your journey to (currently) nowhere. BTW, this intersection has a pedestrian crossing button you can press; and absolutely nothing happens. You press the button, then sit and wait through numerous cycles of traffic-light changes. But you never get a walk sign. My guess is that there is a hidden camera nearby and group of “U.S. 36 Bikeway engineers” is monitoring it while wagering how many traffic cycles it will take before the pesky bikers & pedestrians finally realize they are never going to get the official go-ahead to cross. My guess is that they are also laughing uproariously. Then, as you proceed a little further down the trail, you’ll arrive at Sheridan Blvd. where you have two options: You can either cross an extremely dangerous intersection where the trail disappears, or you can….  Okay, you really don’t have any logical options. Either way you go, the trail ends right here. And if I read the final bikeway plans correctly, you will likely have to cross Sheridan, at-grade, even when the trail is completed. Maybe someday they’ll install a toll-lane that costs bicyclists $36 to get all the way to Denver without risking their lives. In the meantime, see what you think of this game board concept:

The U.S. 36 Bikeway Game

This game combines The Game of Life with Chutes and Ladders for a fast-paced, exciting look at how not to plan a bike trail. So, like the Game of Life, you start by choosing which path you want:

  • Drive a car on Highway 36

    • upsides – fast, relatively easy, relatively safe
    • downsides –  pollutes the environment, no exercise, can be expensive for gas, parking, etc.
  • Ride a bike on U.S. 36 Bikeway

    • upsides – provides exercise, doesn’t cost anything, is environmentally friendly
    • downsides – You could die. (There are others, but this one pretty much trumps the rest.)

Now the fun begins. Once you start playing the game, you have all sorts of benefits but lots of potential pitfalls:

  • Driving 36 Parkway positive options – It starts raining and you’re dry and warm in your car while those suckers on the bikeway are getting soaked. Move ahead 3 spaces.
  • Driving 36 Parkway negative options – After spending $50 million of your taxpayer dollars and two years of delays and detours, you read in the newspaper that they will start “phase 2” of the project that will cost even more and result in another two years of delays. Move back 3 spaces.
  • Bicycling U.S. 36 Bikeway positive option – It’s a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. You are enjoying the peacefulness, serenity, money-saving, environmentally-friendly benefits of riding your bicycle into Denver where you will relax over a cup of coffee and good book at the Tattered Cover Bookstore. – Move ahead 3 spaces.
  • Bicycling U.S. 36 Bikeway negative option – You are blindsided by a speeding car as you cross Church Ranch Blvd. Game Over.

Stay tuned for the New & Improved version of the game that offers a third option: Commuter Train from Boulder to Denver. Start saving your pennies, because this option could be available as early as 2040. (or possibly never)

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/07/10/u-s-36-bikeway-update/

Jun 26

Rhine River Trail: Bonn to Koblenz

Remagen, Germany Makes Good Bike Base Camp

covered bridge on Ahr bike path in Germany

covered bridge on Ahr bike path in Germany

If you’ve completed your Mosel River Bike Tour and you’d like to explore the Rhine region of Germany by bike, the town of Remagen, Germany provides a good central location for basing your adventures. This bike tour is different than most European long-distance trail tours because it gives you the opportunity to stay at one location and then take bike rides our from that central base. And, since bike routes parallel both sides of the river, you are able to do loop rides rather than out-and-back rides. If you stay at the Hotel Leonard Pinger in Remagen, Leonard can provide you with rental bikes for your time in the area. You will want to allocate at least three full days for the following bike rides:

  • Remagen to Bonn, Germany with a must-stop in the town of Erpel, Germany
  • Remagen to (at least) Bad Honningen with a must-stop in Linz, Germany
  • The Ahr Vally Bike Trail Tour (Ahr-Radweg) with must stop in Ahrweiler, Germany

Differences Between the Rhine River Trail and Mosel River Trail

Apollinariskirche in Remagen

Apollinariskirche in Remagen

If you have ever ridden the (Moselle) Mosel River Cycle Route, you’ll notice a fairly significant difference between these two European bike paths and their surrounding area. Here are just a few of the differences you’ll experience:

  • Way more vineyards on the Mosel River
  • More quaint towns & villages along the Mosel trail
  • Slightly better bike paths on both sides of the Mosel River
  • Wine is king along the Mosel.
  • The award for best side path goes to the Ahr Valley bike path off the Rhine River Cycleway.
  • Way more bridges on the Mosel and way more ferry boats on the Rhine

Rhine-River-Remagen-1 Rhine Bike Trail: Remagen to Bonn and Back

Beginning in Remagen, you will bike along the west bank of the Rhine River all the way to Bonn. This bike path is well-marked and mostly traffic-free with a little over half of it being dedicated cycle paths. As long as you stay on the bike route, it is completely free of heavy traffic. From this side of the river, you will only go through a few small towns, but will be surprised how quickly you arrive at the outskirts of Bonn, a very large city. Along this cycle path, you will see interesting, historic and scenic sites on both sides of the river. Among the beautiful structures you see will be the Carstanjen Mausoleum just before you get into Bonn proper. After this, you will have two bridge options for crossing. You can either cross the very first bridge you get to, if you’d like to shorten your ride a bit. Or you can proceed to the next bridge (Kennedy Bridge or Kennedy Brucke) so that you can see more of the city of Bonn. Both of these bridges have separated pedestrian/cyclist crossings and are easy to find and cross. Once you’re on the eastern side of the Rhine River, you’ll find the bike path to be quite a bit more elusive. From what I could see, it looked like they were taking steps to amend this. But for now, you’ll be on a very well-defined bike path for the first few miles, but then it becomes a bit more vague. Remember that at any time, you can cross back to the other side of the Rhine on one of the many ferries. Remember also that it’s pretty difficult to become too lost in these river valleys. Just don’t let yourself wander too far from the Rhine, and you’ll be okay. Remember also that some of your best discoveries will come when you are “lost.” Which brings us to the final tip for this segment of the Rhine River Trail. If I wouldn’t have gotten a little lost, I never would have found the town of Erpel and now it has become my favorite German town. If you get there in the morning and sit down in the Marketplatz, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back to Medieval times. Like so many other German towns, it is filled with gorgeous half-timbered houses. But unlike most towns & villages, they have allowed some of these buildings to remain in a more natural state rather than literally and figuratively white-washing them. It is truly an amazing little European village. Once you are finished exploring Erpel, you can take the pedestrian/bicycle ferry boat across the Rhine to Remagen. At the time of publication, the ferry ride cost €1,40 for a crossing and leaves Erpel twice per hour.

Rhine River Trail: Remagen to Bad Honningen and Back Rhine-River-Remagen-3

This is a very short bike ride, excellent for your first day, last day or even a rainy day. It involves two ferry crossings and a visit to quaint little old-town area of Linz, Germany. Once again, you will be able to ride on both sides of the river, so this is another mini-loop route. Start (again) on the west side of the river and follow the little green bike signs to assure you stay on track. Follow this path for a little over six miles until you come to the town of Bad Breisig. Just past the town, you will come to a car ferry (that also caters to bicyclists) that crosses the Rhine to Bad Honningen. This ferry costs only €1 and is constantly crossing the river (during business hours) so you shouldn’t have to wait long for a ferry. Once you’ve made your intrepid river crossing, you head back toward Linz where you’ll definitely want to stop for a applekuchen or gelato in their old-town plaza. You’ll find the fortified entrance to the town quite photogenic. Once in old-town, the shopping and gastronomy make the town a worthwhile visit. After you’ve spent sufficient time in Linz and possibly had lunch there at one of the many restaurants, you will take the ferry back toward Remagen. This ferry costs €1,40 and also makes regular stops during most daylight hours. Once you’re back on the Remagen side, if you didn’t already stop at the famous Bridge of Remagen, an important World War II site, you should put this on your to-do list. In addition to the remnants of the war-ravaged bridge, you will also have the opportunity to visit the Peace Museum. (open March to November)

Ahr-Valley-Trail-12 The Romantic Ahr River Valley Trail

This bike trail has it all: a train ride, castle ruins, a wine museum and a beautiful old fortified city. We’ll start from Remagen again, but this time we’ll hop on a train instead of getting right on the bike path. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to ride this entire out-and-back on your bike, but the train ride up the Ahr Valley just adds to the excitement of this trip. So board the train at the Remagen Train Station (right across the street from the Leonard Pinger Hotel) and head toward Ahrbruck. It’s not hard to miss since it’s the last stop on the train line. Check with the local station master for train times and boarding information. But bicycles are allowed on the train, so don’t forget to bring yours (or more likely your rental) with you. Once you get off the train at Ahrbruck, you’ll continue to head up the Ahr Valley on your bike. Of course you don’t have to keep going up, and many people just ride down from here. Rhine-River-Remagen-9 But, if you do opt to ride the entire trail, a little over half of it will involve an out-and-back ride. Head toward the furthest town on the trail  which is Blankenheim, Germany. Or feel free to stop at any of the little towns that tickle your fancy including towns w/ such enjoyable names as Liers, Dupelfeld, Insul, Schuld, Fuchsofen, Antweiler and Dorsel. Okay, now you get to start biking downhill (mostly). On your way back down, stop at Altenahr to make a brief (hiking) climb up to the old castle. Next, stop in MayshoB (as in Mayshoss) for a visit to the Wine Museum. If you’re lucky, you may get to join one of their tours or you can try to arrange a wine tour with Leonard Pinger in Remagen. And finally, you’ll want to stop in Ahrweiler and visit the (another) fortified old-town area. And don’t let the spiked gate hit you in the Walporzheim on the way out.

Rhine Cycle Route: Rheinradweg, Eurovelo 15

While you’re in the area, you may want to try a Mosel River bicycle tour Or, you could just bike the entire Rhine River Trail from Andermatt to Rotterdam. Maybe next time.

 

This blog-post auto scheduled for publication on 6/26/15

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/26/rhine-river-trail-bonn-koblenz/

Jun 20

A Guide to The Moselle River Trail

Family on Moselle Trail

Family on Moselle Trail

A Bike Trail With Many Names

First of all, so that you don’t get confused on your Moselle River Bike Trail tour, this famous European bike path has many different names. As far as signage goes, the first one on the following list is by far the most common. But you will also see it referred to as many of the other names:

  • Chemin de la Moselle (Moselle Trail)
  • Moselle River Trail (France & parts of Germany)
  • Mosel River Trail (Germany)

    St. Etienne de Metz Cathedral in Metz, France

    St. Etienne de Metz

  • Veloroute Charles le Temeraire (from Metz to Thionville)
  • Chemin Robert Schuman (a short stretch in Germany)
  • Route des vins de Moselle (in Luxembourg)
  • Moselle Bike Path

Throughout this guide to the Moselle River Trail Tour, I will use some of these different names so that you learn them and so that folks searching for Moselle Trail information are able to find it on Trailsnet.

Important Moselle Bike Trail Information

Moselle-Metz-Trier-2

Historical Scenery Along the Trail

The Moselle River Trail is 193 miles long assuming you don’t take any side trips (good luck with that) or detours. For much of the Moselle Bike Path, you are able to find some sort of bike trail on both sides of the river. Although most of the bike route is completely dedicated bike trail, some portions follow alongside a road with a clearly marked bike lane. In most cases these bike lanes are somehow physically separated from the road by such devises as: raised bike path, traffic barriers, fencing, or rumble strips. In most cases, the bike path runs near the river or through vineyards. It often goes right through towns of varying sizes. Where it doesn’t go through towns, it is very easy to get back onto the

path if you detour into the towns and villages. In fact, this is a good idea for many of the towns.

What You Will Love About the Moselle River Path

wine vineyards along the moselle trail

Moselle River Trail vineyards

How do we love the Moselle Trail; let me count the ways:

  1. history – You will be amazed by both the depth and breadth of the history on this bike path.
  2. scenery – One minute you’re riding beside the river with swans & arched bridges & boats of every imaginable kind. The next minute you’re pedaling through a grape vineyard that is tangled with old-world charm.
  3. food -You will enjoy the best trailside food in the world on the Moselle River Trail. Is the food in Europe better than elsewhere? I’ll leave that up to you. But no one is better at food presentation than European restauranteurs. Whether you eat at a five-star restaurant or a mom & pop food stand, they take pride in making your food look like a work of edible art.

    trailside food

    strawberry pastry trailside

  4. drink – There’s something special about drinking wine & beer in the very heart of wine and beer country. Make sure to try local specialties such as riesling wine and hefeweizen beer. So authentic. So charming. So delicious.
  5. mellow grade – You will be following the path of the river, and this isn’t some raging river of rapids and whitewater. It’s an old-world river. That means it has an extremely slight elevation gain or loss per mile. And, in most cases, you’ll probably be going downriver on your tour. So the riding will be pretty manageable.
  6. pealing church bells – In every community, you’ll hear the golden sound of church bells announcing the arrival of a new hour.
  7. Fun Cities on the Moselle Bike Path – From Metz, France to Koblenz, Germany, you’ll find quaint villages, historic towns and charming cities.

    view of the Mosel River Trail from the imperial palace of cochem

    view of Cochem from the Imperial Palace

Plan a bike tour on this historic bike path, and you will fall in love with the sights, sounds and tastes of the Moselle River Trail.

Finding the Moselle River Bike Path

If you are starting your Moselle River bike journey in Metz, this may be the only place you have difficulty finding the trail. It’s across the river from the Metz city center and, not very well marked. And, as with most major bike trails, the locals often don’t even know it exists. At this point, most locals know of the trail as the Veloroute Charles le Temeraire, if they know of it at all. So in order to find the trail, you just need to cross the major bridge (the one with a pedestrian/bike option) over the Moselle. As soon as you get to the other side, start looking for the signs that have a picture of a bicycle, the letter M and either Veloroute Charles le Temeraire or Chemin de la Moselle.  From this point on, it’s fairly easy to stay found. Keep the following pointers in mind:

  • cathedrals & castles along the moselle river trail

    Castles Near Mosel Trail

    as long as you stay near the Moselle/Mosel River, you can’t be far from the trail.

  • Once you get into Germany/Luxembourg, the trail is on either side of the river for most of the way.
  • The Moselle is in a well-defined valley. As long as you’re in this valley, just move toward the river and you’ll eventually find the path.
  • Look for any of the signs posted at the bottom of this blog-post. Sometimes the signs w/ the little bike symbol lead you toward bike routes that go into towns, so keep the above tips in mind. The signs w/ the big M are the most reliable since they always mean you’re on the actual Moselle River Trail.

Moselle River Trailside Accommodations

You will find that trailside lodging options are plentiful along the Mosel River Trail. However it’s best to book in advance

more castles on the trail

more castles on the trail

or to use the services of a bike touring company.You have four options for lodging along the trail:

  • large chain hotels (often not available in the small towns)
  • smaller hotels (usually locally owned)
  • bed & breakfasts (ditto)
  • camping (most on-trail camping areas don’t have facilities such as water, showers or even toilets. This is especially true of the informal camping areas that are located right beside the trail.)

Your best bet for finding hotels is to do an internet search by town or use a specialty

castles & flowers await you

castles & flowers await you

website such as booking.com. Keep in mind, if you find your own hotels or campgrounds, you will also have to haul your own gear from place to place. This gear load gets exponentially more burdensome if you are camping. Instead, you may want to use a tour company.

Moselle River Bike Trail Tour Companies

Your first choice when it comes to bicycle tour companies is whether you want to go with a tour consolidator or a local touring company. ActiveTravelTours.com has a good article (previous link) on the differences between these two choices. Most bike tour companies offer three options: self-guided bike tours, hosted tours and guided bike tours. As with most travel options, you get what you pay for. I’ve found that self-guided bike tours are a happy medium

trailside beauty

trailside beauty

as far as options go. With self-guided tours, you usually get a bike to use during your tour (or an option to rent one @ extra cost), lodging, a detailed tour pamphlet or booklet and (very important) luggage transfer from destination to destination. In some cases, you can get a self-guided tour for about the same price as planning it all yourself since the tour companies get discounts for volume sales.

What Type of Bike to Use on the Mosel River Trail

Since most of the Mosel Bicycle Path is paved, you can use just about any type of bicycle: road, mountain, touring, recumbent, tandem or even pedal-assisted electric bikes. However, the best bike for the trail is a comfortable, sturdy bike. With that in mind, my first recommendation would be a touring bike with panniers. Once again, this is an advantage of going with a tour

birds-eye view of the Moselle bike path on both sides of the river

birds-eye view of the Moselle bike path on both sides of the river

company. They know which kind of bikes work best and will supply you with an appropriate bicycle for the trip. If you use a tour company, check with them whether or not their bikes are outfitted with cages for water bottles. Surprisingly, these are often not available on your bike, so you may want to bring along your own water bottle and bottle holder.

Moselle Bike Trail Sections

The Moselle Bike Path is usually broken up into six sections for six days of Mosel River bike touring. Of course you can divide it any way you’d like. But one of the common bicycle route plans uses the following six segments:

  1. Metz, France to Perl, Germany
  2. (all Germany from here on out) Perl to Trier
  3. biking through vineyards

    biking through vineyards

    Trier to Piesport

  4. Piesport to Traben-Trarbach
  5. Traben-Trarbach to Cochem
  6. Cochem to Koblenz (Coblenz)

Trailsnet has one of the most detailed and thorough guides to the Moselle River trail, so feel free to visit some of these other Trailsnet pages for more information about this incredible bike route:

Moselle-trail-signs-2 Moselle-trail-signs-3 Moselle-trail-signs-1 Moselle-trail-signs-4

 

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/20/a-guide-to-the-moselle-river-trail/

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