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Metropark welcomes mountain biking

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/14/07 @ 3:06pm

The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association has managed to harness the pioneer spirit of its members to put mountain biking on the map here. Since forming in 2001, many of CAMBA's 500+ members have volunteered countless hours designing some half-dozen sustainable, low-impact mountain bike trails. The trails are tucked away in beautiful rural areas such as the 6-mile lakeside loop at West Branch State Park near Ravenna and the beastly (but awesome!) Vulture's Knob in Wooster (both close to an hour's drive from Cleveland).

Until last week, mountain biking in Northeast Ohio meant you needed a car, a bike rack, and at least half a day's leisure time. But 2007 was a productive and historic year for CAMBA, which opened a trail in Medina, and one in Cleveland that literally took decades in the making. Area mountain bikers will tell you how, for years, they've wanted an official trail in the Cleveland Metroparks. They finally got their wish as CAMBA unveiled its Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation trail to the public last week. It's the product of many years of assurances that mountain biking is a legitimate and increasingly popular sport.

CAMBA founder Michael Farley hopes the successful partnership with the Metroparks and its new 2-mile trail is only a jumping off point for a 100-mile regional trail extending from the Canal Reservation south to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and into Summit County.

For now, the trail represents direct access to mountain biking for Cleveland residents. Located five miles south of downtown Cleveland, even people with cars could leave them at home, put their bike on a Rapid train, hop off at Tower City and catch the #19 RTA bus with their bike on the bus' bike rack, get off at Broadway and Union and ride the Morgana Run Trail or on the street to the park entrance at E. 49th Street and Harvard Road.

The first trail in Cuyahoga County is also evidence that attitudes are changing, perhaps in part because of the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative. The valley is becoming a laboratory for ideas that will draw new audiences.

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