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Summit Metro Parks offering Summer Biking Spree again

7/3/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

First-time Summit Metro Parks Summer Biking Spree participants will earn a bicycle license plate, a reflective 2014 sticker (shown below right) for the plate and a vehicle-window cling. Shown above is the bicycle license plate with 2013 and 2014 stickers.
Images courtesy of Summit Metro Parks
GREATER AKRON — The Summit Metro Parks Summer Biking Spree has returned for a second year.

The at-your-own-pace event began July 1 and will run through Aug. 31. Nathan Eppink, chief of marketing and communications for Summit Metro Parks, said the goal of the biking spree is “pretty simple.”

“Between the Bike & Hike, Freedom and Towpath trails, we manage 60 miles of trails built for both bikes and pedestrians. We want to encourage cyclists to ride our multipurpose trails and to explore new trail sections,” he said. “The sections were chosen so participants could extend their rides onto other sections if they want to. The Freedom Trail in Tallmadge has only been open a little more than a year, so many riders may discover it for the first time this summer. If you usually only ride the Towpath through Akron, the spree offers the chance to ride into Barberton, New Franklin and Clinton. For the Bike & Hike, we’ve included sections between Sagamore Hills and Stow.”

As part of the spree, Eppink said, participants have nine trail sections from which to choose.

“The round-trip distances vary from 6.2 to 11.4 miles,” he stated. “On the spree this year are four sections of the Bike & Hike Trail, four sections of the Towpath Trail and one stretch of the Freedom Trail in Tallmadge. Based on the sections listed for credit, and the terrain, the spree includes easy and moderate rides. There are no challenging sections.”

Eppink said Summit Metro Parks hosts hiking sprees throughout the year, but this is the only spree available for bicyclists.

“We’ve offered guided rides with naturalists, but this is the only at-your-own-pace spree event for cyclists,” he said.

The spree is open to people of all ages, said Eppink, who asks that cyclists act in a courteous manner while riding on the trails.

“Using good trail etiquette is key to a fun, safe visit,” he stated. “We ask cyclists to be courteous, pass on the left and give an audible signal, to move to the right when stopping, not to block the trails and impede other users, and to obey traffic signs and signals when trails cross roads.”

As for which types of bicycles participants should ride, Eppink said cyclists should value comfort.

“We don’t see too many road bikes — the ones with really thin tires — on the Towpath Trail, which is mostly crushed limestone,” he said. “The Bike & Hike and Freedom trails are asphalt. Ultimately, if you’re comfortable riding it, the type of bike doesn’t matter. The spree isn’t a race. You have two months to complete it.”

According to Eppink, those who finish the spree by completing five different trail sections before Aug. 31 will get more than the satisfaction of completing a challenge. First-time participants will earn a bicycle license plate, a reflective 2014 sticker for the plate and a vehicle-window cling.

“We even provide the zip ties so you can easily attach the plate to your bike,” he noted.

Riders who completed the challenge in 2013 will earn just the 2014 sticker and cling, since they already have the plate. In addition, all participants are eligible for a special prize this year.

“One lucky participant will win a new Raleigh bike from Century Cycles,” Eppink said. “The drawing will be held Oct. 16. The winner will be drawn at random from submitted forms.”

In 2013, the program’s first year, 912 people earned rewards, he said.

“It’s possible that several thousand people participated, but never finished,” Eppink said. “Maybe their summer schedules got too busy, or the weather didn’t cooperate when they had time, or they simply forgot to turn in their completed forms.”

The forms required to claim the prizes are available online at www.summitmetroparks.org or can be picked up at the visitors center at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm (1828 Smith Road in West Akron), at Acme Fresh Market stores and Century Cycles in Peninsula.

“We’ll accept forms and offer rewards through Oct. 15,” Eppink said. “Rewards are free to Summit County residents. Non-Summit residents will pay $5.”

In addition, participants who want an additional souvenir for the program can purchase Summer Biking Spree T-shirts from the gift shop at the Nature Realm for $6 each (tax included) while supplies last.

For more information about this program, call 330-865-8065 or visit the Summit Metro Parks website.

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