In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit upfront that its been too long since my last mountain bike ride so I’m suffering some withdrawals. I’m looking to take another trip up to Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland as soon as I can just to get my fix. In the meantime, National Public Radio ran a story last week about mountain biking in northeast Ohio. It mentioned my favorite trails and it even provided a little helmet cam ride in a park just north of Columbus. So let’s go ride.
WKSU News Report
Northeast Ohio’s mountain biking enthusiasts hack their way through brambles, brush, and red tape to build their trails in public parks
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The winds of December whipping through the bare branches of our parks and forests don’t scare mountain-bikers one bit. Many are still riding. Most are busy building the trails they’ll enjoy in the spring. Others are negotiating the trickiest path of all, the National Park system’s bureaucratic maze :
Most of the multi-purpose trails in the region’s parks are off-limits to mountain bikers and the trails where they are permitted are often flat, paved and not sufficiently challenging for experienced bikers. The Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association, founded in 2001, advocates for permission to build what they call “single-tracks. They’ve carved them out in West Branch State Park near Ravenna, Quail Hollow State Park north of Hartville, a section of Hogback Ridge in the Lake Metroparks , and they most recently completed a two-mile trail in the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation. This video was filmed with a helmet camera at a trail built by COMBO, the Central Ohio Mountain Biking Association, at Alum Creek State Park, 12 miles north of Columbus.
As proof of the value of biking (or maybe it’s just my way of rationalizing my mountain bike dreaming) here’s a couple of examples (one from Ohio and one out west) of cities that have made bike tourism the foundation of their economic strategies.
Destination Mountain Biking: Positioning Your Community for Mountain Bike Tourism
14 tips to bring off-road cyclists to your area
source: International Mountain Bike Association
- Great maps make it easy for visitors. Create excellent maps that clearly show the best trails for mountain biking. Elevation profiles and concise ride descriptions are also helpful, as are estimates of ride difficulty, descriptions of ride features, and weather and safety considerations. Maps should include parking and facility information. Use map revenues to improve trails and mitigate tourism impacts.
- Promote trails for all ability levels. For beginners, promote lightly traveled paved roads, dirt roads and wide dirt paths. For intermediate and advanced riders, highlight twisting forest paths, challenging singletrack and downhill routes. Providing all of these experiences, in abundance, will help establish your area as a first-rate mountain biking destination. Advertise a whole system of trails, not just one or that route will be over-used.
- Get the community involved. Build community support for bicycle tourism by emphasizing the economic benefits. Cyclists spend money on gas, food, lodging, souvenirs, etc. and stores that are friendly to cyclists foster this environment.
- Help the community understand mountain biking. Some people don’t know the difference between mountain bicycling and motorcycling. Help residents understand that mountain biking is a low-impact, quiet off-road sport. Reference one of the studies from IMBA’s website that shows our similarity to hiking in terms of effect on trails and wildlife. Show that with proper trail management and design, all trail user groups can recreate in harmony. Take town leaders on a ride.
- Showcase the land’s natural beauty. Design and recommend rides that visit sites with historical interest and beautiful views.
- Photograph your trails professionally. Commission photographers to take photos of your riding area. Send slides and digital files to magazines and newspapers. These photos will serve as a tremendous magnet. Moab, Utah; Fruita, Colorado; Medora, North Dakota and Slatyfork, West Virginia have built stellar reputations as mountain bike destinations using just a few rolls of spectacular mountain bike photos. Further, these images should also be used in widely distributed mountain bike tourism brochures and booklets. IMBA has a database of professional photographers on file for your reference.