The Grand Trunk Trail (GTT) is a mighty fine route.
But it’s where cultures collide, so you gotta ride it like you find it.
Not everyone has bought into the trail idea — a leisure facility promoting physical exercise in a close-to-nature, tranquil setting.
Some see it as just a kind of no-man’s land, where the law is in short supply and anything goes.
Who are these infidels?
Well, some are your quiet, friendly neighbours down the street who mindlessly give the green light to their teenage kids on dirt bikes to blast along its track at breakneck speeds, spinning their wheels, performing Evel Knievel stunts, ripping up the ground and shattering the joy of the day with dust and noise.
Others are good ole farmers hereabout who drive their half tons, tractors and larger-than-life combines on it, sometimes in wet weather when their no-nonsense tires gouge atrocious ruts into its pliable surface.
Yet others are those alienated souls who, in the dark of night, lug to the trail bags of household garbage, construction debris, defunct appliances and other refuse. And while they’re at it, on occasion, they try their best to pilfer stubbornly-anchored public benches.
Try telling them all that the trail has a loftier role to play.
Explain that engine-powered vehicles chew up, loosen and scatter the gravel base, leaving gaps of thin or absent all-weather surface. Point out that loose gravel is unfriendly to cyclists because bike traction needs a medium that is firm and hard-packed.
Good luck with all that edification stuff.
The trail is well posted with signs proscribing some of these delinquencies but the presumption of a connection with the mindset causing the problems is clearly misplaced.
Despite all this, the GTT seems to be well used for its intended purpose. One seldom ventures out on it without encountering other cyclists or hikers.
Many of its travellers are cyclists from the city who link up to the GTT from the Harte Trail in Charleswood.
The Harte Trail is a superb, civilized recreational pathway.
Like the GTT, the Harte generally follows an abandoned rail line. It is thoroughly sheltered for just about its entire length with bowers of trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Its surface is state of the art.
The GTT is longer and more varied and has the potential to be a better experience than the Harte.
For now, ride it like you find it. It’s the route to ride.