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Lorain's back roads & beaches

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/14/07 @ 4:12pm

Lorain County Visitor's Bureau launched an "eco-tourism" campaign catering to cyclists, hikers, and tourists of the green city blue lake variety.

A rolling banner on the LCVB site shows mountain bikers rambling through Findley State Park, a road cyclist on a back county road, picturesque Lakeview Beach and Lorain Lighthouse at sunset, and an angler holding her steel head trout from Vermilion River.

The CVB's cultural and eco-tourism offshoot, Lorain County Heritage organizes events like the recent Lorain County Garden Tour and the upcoming Back Roads & Bridges, a bike and multi-sport tour of Lorain County. The route takes cyclists through Oberlin, Vermilion, Lorain and Avon Lake and past farms, the Lake Erie shore and scenic hills and dales. Media is invited to bike the route on June 22. Free maps of the tour and information will be available Monday by calling toll free 1-800-334-1673. 

Lorain County CVB started working on the route in December, 2006 with a host of partners including the Lorain County Engineer's office, Ohio State parks, Lorain County Metro Parks, Silver Wheels Cycling Club, Oberlin Heritage Center, FAVA, Ohio Sea Grant, Lorain County wineries, Lorain Port Authority and most of the mayors, police chiefs of the cities involved, says Lorain County CVB executive director Barb Bickel.

"One of the greatest early achievements that really makes the tour was securing permanent signage from the Lorain County Engineer who saw the value in the project very early on," she says.

Bickel joined the CVB after working for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a graphic design and production manager.

"I really wanted to work on an eco-tourism program here in my home county," she explains. "I am also a cyclist and was very aware of the awesome cycling here as well as the many cutting edge environmental initiatives, organic farms, Underground Railroad history etc. that are spread throughout the area." 

Financial sponsors currently include Performance Bikes Inc., Ohio State Parks, Oberlin Inn, Allied Waste (due to its Lorain County Recycling Center), Lorain County Metro Parks, Oberlin Heritage Center, Holiday Inn and Lakeland Lodges.

The route may eventually connect to a larger, regional cooperative started in Lorain County to create a recreational corridor from Northeast Ohio to Mohican. The regional effort is still in its infancy, Bickel says. Currently Richland and Ashland County are exploring the possibility of becoming part of it for 2008. Organizations with whom Bickel's been working include the Ashland County CVB, Richland County CVB, Loudonville CVB and Mohican State Park/Malabar Farm. Cuyahoga County is currently not part of it, however the tour does go to the Cuyahoga County/Lorain County line so at some point if they wanted to become part of it, we could.

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