This story first appeared in the 2024 Cycling Guide, a new annual special section distributed in The Gazette aimed at telling the stories of the businesses, people and local efforts that have made The Corridor a cycling destination.

The increasing number of trail connections in Eastern Iowa have made cycling safer for bikers — both serious cyclers who want to train and families out for a weekend ride — while also connecting communities and bringing a boost to businesses in the small towns they pass through.

The Cedar Valley Nature Trail, which follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way, connected to downtown Ely in 2010. Ely was then connected to Solon in 2020 with a continuation of the CVNT, which becomes the Hoover Trail when it crosses into Johnson County.

With these connections from both the north and south, “Ely went from not really having much of a destination theme, and this trail has now opened up a whole new avenue for us to market our community,” said Ely City Administrator Eldy Miller.

Miller says that Ely is now a weekend destination for riders. With bike events or even just large groups of bikers coming into town every weekend in good weather, the city has started a downtown revitalization project to increase bike parking and amenities.

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