It was a beautiful day and I decided I needed to be outside. While I’ve done lots of paddling lately, I have done very little pedaling, so I decided to take my bike over to Pickens and check out the Doodle Trail.
That was easier said than done. I realized that I hadn’t ridden my bike in over a year, and it seemed to be in worse shape than I am. All I have now is an older mountain bike (albeit, a very good one when I bought it) that has no suspension and has knobby tires. It still does OK on trails, but isn’t great for paved surfaces. It needed a bit of TLC before I could ride it anywhere.
I used to love bike riding. I used to do 20 mile rides three times a week. Then we moved to a place that’s not as conducive to riding. As much as Greenville likes to tout its “Bike City” status, it is NOT bicycle friendly. Yes, there are a few bike lanes, but many of those are so narrow as to be shared with traffic…traffic that, for the most part, is oblivious to or openly hostile to bicycles. I would use my bike all the time and ride everywhere if I could. However, from my home I can’t just hop on my bike and ride somewhere useful without taking my life into my hands. If I’m going to have to toss my bike into the truck and drive it somewhere like the Swamp Rabbit Trail, then I’d just as soon toss my kayak into the truck, which is what I’ve been doing lately.
Your legs really don’t get much workout while kayaking, so both my bike and my pedaling legs have suffered from neglect. Even so, I loaded up the bike, tried to pump up the tires, and headed out.
The Doodle Trail is a 7.5 mile rails-to-trails project between the cities of Pickens and Easley. It runs along the route of the old Pickens Railway. The trail and railroad got the name “Doodle” because the train simply reversed when running between the cities like a doodle bug. Having never seen an actual doodle bug in action I can’t verify that this is their behavior, and I suspect the bugs never ran on tracks, but whatever. The name stuck.
I was surprised to find that there is still an active railroad called the Pickens Railway Company. It operates a short line between Anderson and Belton/Honea Path and until 2013 operated trains on the Doodle Bug line. When that segment of the railroad was discontinued the rails were removed and plans for the trail were put into motion.
I’m always amazed at the amount of pushback these types of projects get from home owners. Opponents argued that crime would increase along both the Swamp Rabbit Trail and the Peak to Pomaria section of the Palmetto Trail because there would now be strangers walking across their backyards. That hasn’t proven to be true. If anything, these trails have helped stabilize areas that had a prior problem with crime by raising the visibility of those neighborhoods.
I get the arguments about a loss of privacy. It’s one thing to have a train run through your backyard, but to have the general public leisurely stroll or bike through opens up your private business to a lot of scrutiny. There were a few unofficial Furman frat houses tucked back along the Swamp Rabbit that I’m sure would have liked to have remained hidden.
Then there were those that tried to make arguments based on some twisted Biblical reasoning, as this person who wrote to the Easley Patch:
Is the Pickens Doodle Bike Trail Moral?
So much has changed in our society in the past 45 years.
The most blatant change has been in morals. And the result of this downfall of morals has led us down the path of communism.
Our country was based on Christian morals. That is no longer the morals we follow. We used to believe the Ten Commandments were our moral compass.
The latest proof we now ignore many of the Ten Commandments is how the collectivist moral code has taken over in the project which seeks a public bike path on the former Pickens Doodle railroad tracks.
This project is in direct violation of two commandments…namely “Thou shalt not steal” and Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ property.”
But now the new “greater good” morals of communism have taken over. Our local governments have now endorsed the taking of private/personal property without owners’ consent while proclaiming they are doing “good.”
A small percentage of people who “covet” someone else’s private property have used government to do their act of immorality.
It is very depressing to see how eagerly the people of Pickens County jump on the bandwagon of wanting to steal another’s personal property rights just for their own personal enjoyment.
Our local governments are making it “legal” to covet and steal our neighbors property.
As Christians we need to stand up for the property rights of the landowners along this proposed bike path and tell our local government officials we do not support breaking the Ten Commandments so a small group of our population can ride their bikes.
Please call your Pickens City Councilmen or Easley City Councilmen and tell them it is time we start respecting the Ten Commandments.
Pickens County Resident
Uhm, exactly what was being “stolen”?? I don’t think the county used eminent domain to steal anything.
But, back to the trail…
I found the trailhead with no problem. Several cars with bike racks were already in the small parking lot. A kiosk with trail information and a bike maintenance station marked the end of the trail.
The trail dropped downhill – quickly. My first thought was, “Oh god, I’m going to have to pedal back up this thing.” I quickly passed mill village houses and closely behind yards filled with stuff. A lazy tabby cat didn’t flinch as I cruised past. The trail also runs along one of the old Pickens textile mills, now in a state of collapse.
The trail takes on a rural feel very quickly running through farmlands at the base of Glassy Mountain. The scenery was quite nice, actually, even better than the Swamp Rabbit. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. There were a few other bikers and walkers along the trail, but for the most part I had it all to myself.
I had only gone a little over three miles when I noticed that my ride was getting very rough. The back tire just wasn’t holding air. I stopped to pump up the tire, but decided that I wasn’t going to make it all the way to Easley. I decided to turn back around. As I headed back I could see the towers on top of Glassy Mountain.
The tire had gone down again and I was walking my bike when three other bikes came up behind me. They passed, then paused, asking if I needed help. These guys were in their sixties and seventies and cruising past me like it was nothing. I told them that my tire wouldn’t hold air. I lied. It was my lungs that wouldn’t hold air. I thanked them, but told them I’d be fine.
While we chatted we noticed a rusting car off in the woods. I walked back to take a photo or two. My GoPro caught me on the trail.
My trip back was alternating between riding-pumping-walking. With the slower pace I could take a few more photos of the surrounding area rather than just relying on the GoPro.
A set of phantom stairs once connected one of the side streets of the mill village to the mill itself. A few of the uniform houses lined the mill side of the old railway. “The Mill Church” was obviously an old or former Baptist church that had taken on one of those single-name monikers that are so trendy.
I made it back to the truck with no problem and loaded up the car. I’d only gone six miles, which is a decent paddling trip, but a very short pedaling trip. I need to do some serious work on this bike before I head back out.
Yet, I wasn’t done. Even though I hadn’t ridden to the end of the trail I still wanted to see it. I drove on down Highway 8 toward Easley. I made several missteps trying to find the trailhead. I hadn’t realized it would be so obvious, nor that it would run through the middle of the Easley city cemetery.
Next time I think I’ll start from this end, but simply for variety. I don’t think it will be any easier. As one of my fellow riders today commented, “It’s uphill both ways.”