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Metro Parks hosting first Summer Biking Spree

6/20/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

All riders who complete five sections of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County’s Summer Biking Spree will earn a small commemorative/reflective sticker, which can be placed on a bike or helmet. Riders also will have the choice of a bicycle license plate, which the sticker can be placed on, shown above, or a vehicle window cling, shown below right.
Graphics courtesy of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County
GREATER AKRON — Metro Parks, Serving Summit County is well-known for its popular hiking events throughout the year and now a new event is being added to the annual rotation — a Biking Spree.

The first-ever Summer Biking Spree will take place from July 1 through Aug. 31.

“This is the first spree for cyclists,” said Nathan Eppink, chief of marketing and communications for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County. “It’s a great companion to our 10-year-old Spree For All, the spring hiking series on flat, easy trails [May through June], and our 50-year-old Fall Hiking Spree [September through November].”

According to Eppink, the Summer Biking Spree is an opportunity for people to bike different sections of multipurpose trails and “to highlight the popular trails we’re responsible for.” The event replaces the STOMP Bicycle Adventure, an annual one-day fundraiser that enjoyed a 20-year run.

“We manage the 34-mile Bike & Hike Trail and half of the Towpath Trail in Summit County [22.4 miles],” he said. “A lot of people think the Towpath is entirely maintained by the National Park Service, but it’s not. Also, we recently completed the first 4.2 miles of the Freedom Trail in Tallmadge. When completed in several years, that trail will be 8 miles long and extend into Downtown Akron.”

Even before it has begun, Eppink said, the Biking Spree is proving to be a popular addition to Metro Parks’ programs.

“Our bike patrol volunteers, who patrol the multipurpose trails April through October, are very excited about the new spree. It’s one more reason to interact with visitors,” he said. “And there is a bit of a buzz out there about the Biking Spree. We don’t know how many people to expect, but we’ve planned for several thousand. For comparison, Spree For All has nearly 3,000 participants each year who complete the trails and earn rewards. The Fall Hiking Spree was near 13,000 last year.”

And just like they do in the hiking sprees, participants in the Biking Spree can earn a reward from Metro Parks.

“All riders who complete five sections will earn a small, commemorative/reflective sticker, which can be placed on a bike or helmet,” Eppink said. “They’ll also have the choice of a bicycle license plate, which the sticker can be placed on, or a vehicle-window cling. At the end of the spree, one lucky participant — drawn at random from submitted forms due by Oct. 15 — will win a new Raleigh bicycle from Century Cycles. The drawing will be held Oct. 16. The number of completed forms will determine the odds of winning.”

Summer Biking Spree forms are available online at www.summitmetroparks.org, or in person at the following locations: the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm Visitors Center, 1828 Smith Road in West Akron; the Metro Parks administrative offices, 975 Treaty Line Road in West Akron; Century Cycles, 1621 Main St. in Peninsula; and all Acme Fresh Market stores.

Biking Spree participants will have until Oct. 15 to redeem their forms. There is no cost for Summit County residents to earn a reward, but out-of-county residents will be charged $5 to receive a reward.

For the Biking Spree, the trail sections have been rated for different difficulty levels.

“Sections with a 1 rating are considered easy, and those with a 2 are considered moderate. There are no 3, or strenuous, sections this year. The round-trip distances vary from a little more than 6 miles to almost 11-1/2 miles,” Eppink explained. “We’re hoping participants find a new favorite trail or trail section. The southern sections of the Towpath are much different than those near Downtown Akron. The Bike & Hike Trail has some great natural features. The Freedom Trail is brand new and waiting to be explored.”

Eppink said cyclists are free to choose which type of bicycle they ride for the Biking Spree, which is open to cyclists of all ages.

“Really, it’s what you’re comfortable riding. The Bike & Hike and Freedom trails are completely paved. The Towpath Trail is not. There are paved sections, but most of the Towpath is crushed limestone,” he said. “We won’t limit the rewards to those on their own bikes, either. In other words, if a child is in a tag-along or in a seat on the back of a parent’s bike, they’re eligible.”

The Summer Biking Spree will officially begin with a kick-off event June 30 from noon to 3 p.m. at Lock 3 Park, 200 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

The event will include: staff and gear from Century Cycles in Peninsula, volunteers from local bicycle clubs, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, 91.3 The Summit, METRO RTA and more.

Local singer Ryan Humbert and his band will perform on the Lock 3 stage from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Friends of Metro Parks will host a bike-decorating station. Metro Parks mascots and Orbit from the Akron Aeros also will be on hand.

While supplies last, Summer Biking Spree T-shirts will be sold for $10, and each sale includes a free lunch (hot dog, chips and a drink). When shirts and sizes run out, food can be purchased directly from the Lock 3 concessions.

For more information, visit the website or call 330-865-8065.

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