Trailing through

Judy Tompkins

Bike trails offer exercise, enjoyment

In the early hours of the first day of summer bikers take on the trails at Lock 29 Trailhead in Peninsula.

Credit: Beth Rankin

If you’re bored, broke or just want to get out of Kent and avoid high gas prices, why not get on a bicycle and hit the trails?

Northeastern Ohio is full of intertwining bike and hike trails that begin in Stow-Kent and go as far as the Cleveland Metroparks.

“Don’t let anybody or anything distract you from doing it. Don’t let cars intimidate you,” said Casey Greene of Casey and Tex Repair Shop.

The city of Kent is in the process of linking the Portage Bike and Hike trail to Summit County’s bike trail system. Construction has begun on Spell Road, off of Judson Road. It will cross Hudson Road and follow Brady Lake Road to Summit Street, which it follows to the existing path in Towners Woods Park. The 13-mile project is expected to be completed in August.

The trails are made of asphalt pavement or crushed limestone road. Paths are easy to ride and have few hills.

There are two easy ways to cycle to the trails from downtown Kent.

The easier trail to navigate begins next to the Stow-Munroe Falls High School, located on Fishcreek Road, then winds through Hudson Township. Following it can be a bit tricky because the trail runs through residential streets, so bring a trail map along.

Another trail begins on Munroe Falls Road, just off of Middlebury Road, near Fred Fuller Park. This trail is also paved and runs past waterfalls before winding through Silver Lake and Crystal Lake in Stow.

If you’re interested in an easy ride and in learning some of Ohio’s history, take the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail through meadows, wetlands and forests in the Cuyahoga Valley. There are a few trail entrances from Merriman Road in Akron’s valley. Each entrance has space for parking.

The towpath is a longer route. It’s easy to follow with clearly marked beacons that direct cyclists past Hale Farm and Village, through Boston, Ohio and finally to the Cleveland Metroparks. The path also has information markers that give details about the canal’s history.

Before you go: The basic approach to safe cycling

– Bring a lot of frozen water or athletic drink. Bring a snack because cycling makes you hungry, said Chris McMasters, sales associate at Eddy’s Bike Shop.

– Because all of the trails run across or along roads, it’s important to follow a few safety tips to prevent getting hit by a car. A good rule to follow is to ride with traffic whether you are cruising around town or on a trail.

“Riding against traffic is extremely dangerous,” said Greene. “If you come over a hill and a car is going 60 mph, and you’re going 10 mph, the car has no room to move.”

– Wearing a bike helmet is not required for riders over the age of 16, but is recommended.

“Always wear a bicycle helmet,” said Dave Barnette, sales associate at Eddy’s Bike Shop. “It costs $30 to $35 and all helmets have the same safety standard, so a $30 is just as safe as a $200 one.”

– Both Greene and Barnette agree that signaling on the road is important. But don’t do the type of complicated hand signaling learned in school. Simply point in the direction you want to turn to avoid confusing drivers.

– Make sure your bike is in good working condition by checking to see if there is enough tire air pressure. Riding on flat tires can lead to tiny snake holes that are nearly impossible to repair, said Jerry Adkins, sales associate at Eddy’s Bike Shop. He recommends airing tires at 40 to 50 pounds.

“Go on the higher end if you’re commuting,” Adkins said. “Go on the lower end if you’re taking the trails.”

– To avoid crashing into hikers, rollerbladers and other cyclists. If you want to pass someone, just say, “passing to your left” or install a bell or horn on the handlebar. Much of bicycle safety is about using common sense.

Contact general assignment reporter Judy Tompkins at [email protected].