Going for a Ride: December 2021

Students Take Full Advantage of Rail Trail
by Emily Arias and Thomas Caputo

HURLEYVILLE—In September, the Collaborative College High School (CCHS) organized a huge bike ride on the Milk Train Trail, also known as the Rail Trail. In partnership with The Center for Discovery (TCFD), CCHS was able to organize a large bike ride involving the majority of students. The organizers were Jack Comstock, Jim Cashen, and Kara Schalase, the latter two work at The Center for Discovery. They used a combination of student bikes and TCFD bikes, including beach bikes, three-wheel bikes, mountain bikes, and tandem bikes. One of the core focuses of TCFD is the care of those who are differently abled, so many of the bikes were handicap accessible. One CCHS student, Byron Pratt, who has cerebral palsy, said that riding a bike with one working hand is difficult, but the TCFD bikes made it enjoyable.
The riders discovered that the section of Rail Trail on which they were riding is called the Milk Train Trail because it used to be part of an actual railroad that transported milk as well as passengers and freight. Long abandoned, it has now been paved over in both directions, and it’s become a popular location for residents to ride bikes and walk.
While many of the students on the ride had ridden a bike before, a few kids had never ridden a bike or hadn’t ridden in a while. That was the case for one student in particular, Sindhu Villareal. Ms. Villareal hadn’t ridden a bike in a long time, but was very happy and excited to be taking part in the experience.
“I was very excited to ride again, although I ended up riding a three-wheel bike,” she said.
The bike ride included students of all skill levels, with some being experienced bikers. Two of these students were eighth-graders, Henry Anker and Axel Jurgens. Mr. Jurgens has even participated in some competitions. While these two had the most experience, they weren’t the only ones enjoying the ride. John Adams, a seventh-grader, described the experience as magical.
“When you ride into the rock cut, it’s like entering a whole new world,” he said.
Other students saw this experience as a fitness opportunity. Ninth grader Bryce Shannon did multiple laps on the trail, and ended up riding about four miles.
While the September ride was the first, and had the most participants, it was not the only one. On Friday, October 13, CCHS organized another bike ride, also on the trail, this time involving fewer students.
While these two rides have been the only organized bike trips so far, CCHS principal Jack Comstock has not ruled out the possibility of a third bike ride, although this will most likely be later in the school year.
When asked why he wanted to do the bike ride, Mr. Comstock said “We were so close to [the rail trail] and wanted to experience the trail in a new way.”
CCHS also has plans to use the trail during winter as well. The plan includes cross country skiing and snow shoeing, introducing students to new activities and giving some, especially those who have from the city, a completely different experience.
These bike rides and other rail trail activities not only introduce the students to new experiences, but also promote more physical activity, which could bleed over into their personal lives. They could also be good for the rail trail, as promoting the use of the trail could lead to improved conditions for the surrounding ecosystems by bringing more attention to them.
CCHS would like to do more bike rides in the future, and will happily accept donations of bikes and helmets that are in good condition.