Freeman of the Press: Summit Metro Parks Bike spree returns for 2014 summer fun

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

I'm inflating the tires on my bike and oiling the chain. Last year, the Summit Metro Parks introduced a Summer Biking Spree, and they're offering it again this year.

If you're familiar with the Spree For All, which ends June 30, or the Fall Hiking Spree, which begins Sept. 1, this is a similar event. But instead of walking, the participants ride a bike. The event begins July 1 and continues through Aug. 31.

Those cyclists who complete five sections of local bike trails earn a bike license plate (for first timers), a reflective sticker for the plate, and a vehicle-window cling. Rewards are free to Summit County residents and $5 for out-of-county participants.

My husband joined me on last year's inaugural rides, and he already asked about this year's spree. Most of the trails were paved and pretty level, making the ride enjoyable, but we brought mosquito spray and took along water bottles.

The scenery included plenty of trees, rock cliffs and singing birds. The Freedom Trail runs parallel to abandoned railroad tracks. The Towpath trails include views of the locks, canal and Cuyahoga River. The hardest part was loading and unloading the bikes.

Included in the spree are four sections of the multipurpose Bike & Hike Trail, which extends 34 miles from Sagamore Hills to Munroe Falls and Stow; four sections of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail; the 4.2 mile completed section of the Freedom Trail in Tallmadge; and a biker's choice.

The trails range from 6.2 miles to 11.4 miles for round-trip distances and are rated easy or moderate.

Nearly 1,000 people earned rewards in 2013, according to Summit Metro Parks.

Cyclists share the trails with walkers, and the trails are only so wide. It's good manners to stay to the right as much as possible and announce when you're coming up to pass someone on foot with "on your left" or by ringing a bike bell.

Cyclists are encouraged to wear a helmet and practice caution when crossing streets intersecting the trails.

Spree forms are available online at summitmetroparks.org or in person at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, 1828 Smith Road in Akron; the park's administrative offices, 975 Treaty Line Road in Akron; Century Cycles, 1621 Main St. in Peninsula; and all Acme Fresh Market stores in Summit County.

Summer Biking Spree T-shirts are available, while supplies last, for $6 at the Nature Realm gift shop.

Participants must turn in their forms by Oct. 15. One winner will be drawn from the submitted forms to win a new Raleigh bicycle from Century Cycles on Oct. 16.

For more information, directions or maps, visit www.summitmetroparks.org or call 330-865-8065.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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