The Power of Believing in Yourself

Do you know the story of The Little Engine that Could?

An early version goes as follows:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work.

Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing out bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.

This little engine knew the power of believing in yourself and how doing so can push your performance.

Saturday’s bicycle ride didn’t go so well.  Bob suggested going on a bicycle ride the next day.  I didn’t know if another bicycle ride so soon would bode well for me, but I agreed to go anyway.

The bike trail that we chose to ride was the Oil Creek Bike Trail, a paved bicycle trail through Oil Creek Gorge.  The trail follows the path of development of the oil industry in the 1860’s. The story is told via interpretive signs along the bike trail. The Oil Creek Bike Trail is 9.7 miles one direction.

Whoa!  If you read my previous blog post, you know that I didn’t do well on a 3-mile bike ride.  Now I am about to attempt an even longer bike ride.  Distance wasn’t a factor.  I knew that I could ride as far as I felt comfortable, turning around whenever I felt the need to do so.  I also knew if I made it to the end and couldn’t make the return trip that Bob was capable of riding his bicycle back to the starting point.  He could drive the car to the other entry point and pick up myself and my bicycle.  Time wasn’t a factor.  I could pace myself and take all day to ride whatever distance I chose to do.

We drove to Drake Well in Titusville PA and parked in the bike trail parking lot. We rode our bicycles from Drake Well, south, to Petroleum Center.  Bob utilized the MapMyRide app, which traced our route.


The ride south is very easy, once you climb the hill out of the parking lot.  The trail levels out, and there is a gradual down slope.  I walked my bicycle most of the way up the hill.  I rode rest of the trail, stopping only for photo opportunities.  The down slope of the south bound trail, however, did concern me.  I mentioned it a few times to Bob.  He kept telling me that the trail was level.  At one place on the trail, where I told Bob that I was coasting downhill, he suggested that I turn around and ride towards the north.  I didn’t have to expend much, if any, effort to bicycle north.

The following pictures were taken during our south bound ride.

Oil Creek

We rode awhile before we encountered a nice view of Oil Creek.
Bob says the trail has changed since he last rode it.
The vegetation has grown, obscuring views of the creek.
That would be expected, as it was 25-30 years ago that Bob last rode the trail!

The Drake Well Marathon & Half Marathon event, in its 11th year, was being held at the same time that we were on the bike trail.  I read somewhere that this marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

We shared the bike trail with marathon runners.

One of the refreshment stops along the trail had a unicorn theme.

Bob’s recollection of this trail from 25-30 years ago had Oil Creek on his right, not left, side.

When we crossed the bridge in the distance, the creek moved to our right side.

I am glad that my Olympus camera, along with the 40-150mm lens can accompany us on bicycle rides.

We saw a great blue heron from the bridge.

Bob on the bridge

Bob took this picture of me on the bridge.
Note my attire.

I believe my attire is better suited to the weather than the jeans and t-shirt that I
wore during my previous ride at Allegany State Park.

What a lovely view from the bridge!
There is a railroad bridge in the distance.

I wish we could have timed our ride for when the Oil City & Titusville (OC&T) Railroad train would have passed over this bridge.  Bob and I rode the OC&T Railroad train about 4 years ago.

Railroad Bridge
The trail goes under the bridge.
Go slow so you don’t wind up in Oil Creek!

We began our ride at 10:45 am and arrived at Petroleum Center at 12:30 pm.

After eating a light snack at a picnic table at Petroleum Center, we turned around and began our ride back to Drake Well.  My mantra (Thank you for the word that I was looking for, Stacey) the entire ride back to Drake Well was “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  By the way it helps a lot having a writer in the family, when you are at a loss of words.

The Oil Creek Bike Trail at its southern terminus
The Railroad Bridge

The shadows under the railroad bridge attracted Bob’s attention.

Railroad Bridge with Oil Derricks in the Background

Bob and I under the Railroad Bridge

If only we could have planned our ride to coincide with the OC&T Railroad train schedule!

A lovely spot to soak in the beauty of Oil Creek

There are benches located all along the trail.
We saw two shelters along the trail as well.  I didn’t think to photograph one of them.

The hill down to the Drake Well parking lot was a very welcome sight.  As I flew down that hill, my thoughts were “I thought I could, I thought I could.”  The trail running from Petroleum Center to Drake Well does require some effort, as there is a gradual (very gradual) incline.  I had to make a few rest stops on the way back to Drake Well.  I had to walk my bicycle a little bit too. I didn’t get overheated; my chest didn’t hurt: I didn’t get out of breath; and I didn’t feel weak or faint, as I did during yesterday’s ride around Red House Lake in Allegany State Park.  It was a great ride!

We returned to Drake Well shortly before 3:00 pm.

My bike odometer recorded the trip as a distance of 19.22 miles.

This is the farthest I have ever ridden my bicycle, although I did come close when we rode around Erie’s Presque Isle in September 2016.  The bike trail around Presque Isle is 13.5 miles long.  We hope to do that loop again, one day soon.

My maximum speed during this ride was 17.5 miles per hour.
Guess where?
The hill down to Drake Well of course!

One last picture .. how hot was it?

Our car displayed an outdoor temperature of 95°F, when we returned from our bicycle ride.
It was probably 15° cooler on the wooded trail.

I definitely feel that I got some exercise.  Yesterday my leg muscles were hot and humming.  I was so tired.  Soon after returning home I fell asleep on our reclining chair, until inner thigh pain bolted me upright and out of the chair.  A hot shower, massage and Valium relaxed those throbbing muscles, allowing me to sleep through the night.  Today I went for a short bicycle ride.  I felt the expected muscle ache. I didn’t push myself.  I rode easy.  I know I need to rest, and I will rest the remainder of today and tomorrow.  I hope to ride again later in the week and the weekend, increasing my distance each ride.

I would like to ride the Oil Creek Bike Trail again. Early fall would be a good time.  We will enter the trail, though, at Petroleum Center and ride north.  I would much prefer to bicycle the gradual incline, when fresh rather than after riding 9 miles!

Reflecting back, I feel glad and proud that I was able to complete the Oil Creek Bike Trail in both directions.  As it was for the little engine that could, I believed in myself and pushed my performance.  I changed my mantra from “I think I can” to “I thought I could”.