WMBA's Tracy Hankinson climbs a hill during a 2012 race at Palmer Park. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE

A friend visiting from Chicago remarked on how friendly people are on our trails. When he hikes near his home, people ”greet” each other with a barely perceptible nod. They are reluctant to interrupt the oh-so-rare solitude. Out here, nearly everyone he encountered either smiled broadly, offered a hearty hello or stopped to chat. He was particularly struck by the polite mountain bikers who hailed him and thanked him when he stepped off the trail.

It was refreshing to hear his perspective. I confess to taking such pleasantries for granted. And when the discussion drifts to cyclists, it can include stories of rudeness and close calls with mountain bikes.

The Women’s Mountain Bike Association encourages members to be courteous on group rides, and they are. They regularly signal fellow cyclists when hikers or runners are ahead, and they’re effusive in their thanks when pedestrians step off the trail to let the group ride by. The WMBA has about 300 local members. And when 60 or more gather on a Thursday night to ride trails in a park or open space, they can definitely affect the experience of other trail users. They do their best to not let that effect be negative.

The truth is, the women are having a ball. After spending the day stuck inside, the freedom afforded is exhilarating. Their joy is contagious.

We recently lost a local trail champion. Few people knew our trail system as well as Lynette Reagan. Fewer were as generous with their time. Lynne regularly introduced new residents to favorite parks and open spaces through her weekly walks. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

She was an active advocate for the trails she loved, literally walking the walk. Knowing Lynette, she’d want all of us to stay the course, keep walking the trails and spreading the joy she shared so freely. Not because we want to impress visitors, but because those visitors remind us that we are surrounded by rare beauty. If it makes them smile, why shouldn’t we?

Davies is executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

Davies is executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

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