They Ride the Trails and Promote Tourism

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – About 20 years ago, Ed Randall was talking to a friend about his love of bicycling. His friend encouraged him to go to a local bike club’s gathering at Mosquito Lake.

Two decades later, Randall is a ride leader and treasurer for the Outspokin’ Wheelmen – a recreational bike club that rides on local roads and trails.

As the region segues into warmer weather, Randall says he does as many as three or four rides a week.

Each ride has a different ride leader and format. There are weekly rides, single rides, rides in Pittsburgh, rides in Cleveland, river trails and local rides.

“We do short rides, long rides – rides for people of all abilities,” Randall says.

Randall says he has made a lot of friends through the club over the years.

“It’s good exercise and it’s really good companionship,” he says. “There is a really good group of people. We all stay together, practice safe bike riding – when you’re in a group riding on the road it is a lot safer.”

Lori Swan, president of the Outspokin’ Wheelmen, says the group rides about 30 miles through the countryside every Thursday as part of its weekly meeting at Bogey’s Bar & Grill –  the ride that Randall now leads.

The club is celebrating its 50th year in the Youngstown area. “We do have some older members with us here,” she says, noting some of the founding members of the club are still cycling today.

Members range in age from young adults to over 80.

The majority of the club’s riders are older and there are fewer younger members today, says John McCormick, a longtime member of Outspokin’ Wheelmen. 

Lori Swan, Outspokin’ Wheelmen president, meets John McCormick, long-time club member, at a morning gathering.

“There are a lot more riders now because the average age is a lot higher and these people have a lot more time on their hands because they are retired,” he says. “It used to be a ride during the week was a rarity – now it’s every day of the week. We could find a rider if we want to. [for every day of the week].”

Swan says beginners usually start with slower-speed rides that are typically done on the trails at Mill Creek Park. Some faster paced rides are available as well.

“Currently we have 217 members in our club,” says Swan. “This past week we have had probably 20 rides on our schedule.” 

Swan says there is something for all skill levels and there are no requirements to join the club.

Most of the trails the club uses is in the Mahoning Valley, as well as the Lisbon area and Franklin, Pa. For the last two years, the club made a trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


An entire industry has developed around bicycle tourism, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

More than 48 million people across the country ride bikes – which has a positive effect on their health and the economy, the League reported. These cyclists spend money on lodging, transportation, gifts and entertainment.

Citing figures reported by the Outdoor Industry Association, riders spent $83 billion on bicycle tourism in 2017 and generated $97 billion in retail spending that year. Nationwide, this spending contributed to 848,000 jobs, the advocacy group reported.

Joe Pacak, president of the Rust Belt Revival Trail Coalition for the local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, says his organization has been promoting mountain bike trails and riding opportunities in the surrounding area for more than 12 years.

Pacak says the area trail system attracts cyclists from Akron, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which translates into an improved quality of life and more spending in the local economy.

“Besides increasing the quality of life in these areas, there is a real observable economic impact of having trails,” he says. “Notably, the sport of mountain biking attracts visitors and tourists to these areas. Hotels, restaurants and shopping all benefit from this increase in visitation.”

The coalition is also responsible for the planning and construction of several of those local trails.

In conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Pacak says the coalition has helped to build and maintain dual use mountain biking and hiking trails in Beaver Creek State Park and Lake Milton State Park, where it’s built about 11 miles of single-track trail.

“We are currently working with ODNR on the construction of a new trail system at Beaver Creek State Park that will expand on already existing trails by offering opportunities for hiking and bicycling near the park’s campground area,” he says.

In addition, the coalition is working with Mill Creek MetroParks and is in the early planning stages of developing mountain bike trails there, he says.


The Outspokin’ Wheelmen’s Swan says bike trails in the area present a great opportunity for novice bikers since they are mostly traffic-free and follow straight, easy-to-navigate routes. Joining a club also helps develop a social network.

“If you go week after week on the trails, you get to know the other bikers, the other walkers [and] the other people,” she says. “Also, there might be an ice cream store on the trail or not too far, so we are going to support our local businesses.”

The club has two fundraising events. The first is SICCO, or Spring in Columbiana County, which takes place the first Sunday in May.

The second is North East Ohio (Cookie) Century on Sept. 17. With five routes to choose from, it is 100 miles total to complete them all.

“The money that we get helps support organizations that we buy bicycles for,” Swan says.

Swan says Outspokin’ Wheelmen often does benefit rides, including one for multiple sclerosis, that will begin in Moraine State Park in Pennsylvania and end in Conneaut.

“Over the two days we will ride about 150 miles,” she says.

Another 324-mile, four-day ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati will take place later this year to raise money for the Cleveland Hope Lodge.

Swan says she has also seen increasing interest in electric bikes, which helps some of the older cyclists and appeals to younger riders.

“Electric bikes seem to be the new thing and the older generation is going more toward the electric bikes and even some of the younger generations too,” she says.

Electric bikes come in variations of electric assist, in which riders can pedal but push a button when assistance is needed, says Swan.

“It gets more people out who would not be normally biking,” she says. “Because of the assistance they get, they can pedal a little easier and keep up with the group or just go out and enjoy themselves on the bikes.”

Pictured at top: Ed Randall, leader of the weekly Bogey’s ride and treasurer of the Outspokin’ Wheelmen, gets ready to lead members 30 miles through the countryside.