SHELTON, Washington — For decades, a 13 mile section of the 120 year old Simpson Logging Company rail line has been silent.
Not since pedal powered railcars, known as rail riders, came to Shelton. I'm heading down the track right now.
My son, Cooper, provides some of that pedal power. My long legs help, and Doug Newman handles the brakes. He's managing Vance Creek Railriders with his wife Cynthia.
“I like getting back outdoors,” he says. “I was sitting behind a desk, and watching people have fun is probably my favorite thing of all.”
Our journey begins outside Shelton with a few instructions. The we adjust our seats, buckle in and begin pedaling.
“It's 6 1/2 miles down,” says Newman. “It’s 6 1/2 miles back so it's about 13 miles roundtrip. Takes about two hours.”
The carts weigh just 100 pounds. The polyurethane wheels are formed around BMX tires. For long stretches, they roll so smoothly we hardly have to pedal. But then again, we're going downhill.
“Most people want to go faster than we'll let 'em,” laughs Newman. “Especially the teenagers.
They want to go faster.”
We ride across a road, pedal across a bridge, and breathe in fresh air, surrounded by 360 degrees of scenery.
Then at the half way point, our guides turn the carts around while our group catches its collective breath before we begin the 6 ½ mile uphill.
For those who need a little help, there's a motorized cart that will do all the pushing.
Vance Creek Railriders offers a fun new way to ride the old rails.