2012 Hoppin’ Hodges Trail 5K

I’m a sucker for tradition when it is a good tradition. Members of the Silk City Striders are known for hosting fun holiday runs. The Scrooge Scramble is a good example. In recent years, a small group has gotten together on Easter Sunday for a run on the Hop River Linear Trail in Vernon, Connecticut.

The past few years, I’ve ridden my mountain bike from our home in Bolton to the run, and last year, I changed my clothes and joined them for part of the run. This year, Janit Romayko and her gang formalized things a bit more. In honor of Janit’s late husband, James Hodges, she put together a self-timed informal race, on the same route that the club has used in recent Β years.

All of the proceeds ($8 donation requested) went to the Friends of Valley Falls, an organization that James was very invested in. Janit said that James’ favorite place to walk/run was the Vernon Depot. There were some weird connections with the race. I was talking with a friend of mine afterwards. We were discussing our respective solar PV electric power systems. His family businesses and Horst Engineering both have facilities with solar arrays. We were talking about last fall’s power outage and how our grid-tied systems were of no help when the electricity was out. That outage was caused by the epic October snowstorm. The day that crazy storm hit, I rode my bicycle to James Hodges wake. I wrote about the storm in this blog post, which also featured a link to the obituary of this accomplished man.

Another connection: my favorite road is Valley Falls Road. It is a scenic twister that winds past beautiful wooded land and parallels the rail trail. It culminates with one of the steepest hills around. That hill climbs just past the entrance to Valley Falls Park, which is celebrating its 50th year in 2012, and then crests next to the old farm that the Friends of Valley Falls fought to preserve. From there, the road switches back and then the climb continues up Hatch Hill, a vicious grade that I frequently ride. I was on Hatch earlier this week. These friendships, passions, and connections are grounded by tradition that I referenced.

So, today’s out and back 5K was entirely on the old rail bed. I often write about this rail trail because we live on it and it is a big part of our lives. Communities that have trails are healthier in so many ways. To have a rail trail right out the front door is a wonderful thing.

So, this morning, I rode down to the old train depot in the Dobsonville section of Vernon, transitioned to my running gear, and pushed it (a little) in the 5K. There were about 20 people or so. It was lots of fun. I bet it grows next year as word spreads beyond the Silk City Striders. A little Facebook marketing goes a long way nowadays!

After the run, we enjoyed a really nice spread of fruit, nuts, breads, and of course…candy.

My cool-down was extended. On the way back up the trail, I rode past our house in Bolton and continued into Andover, where they put in that awesome new bridge. The installation was last Saturday in nasty wet weather. Today, it was so much nicer. I wanted to see the new addition to the trail. It took a 500 ton crane to lift the bridge into place. This was a missing link until last week. The bridge is in place and I rode across it for the first time. They aren’t finished with some little details, but it is totally functional, and enhances the rail trail even more.

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