Go Ride Your Bike at a Trail Near Here

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For many people, their first true taste of freedom is when they learn to ride a bicycle. They typically are introduced to bicycles as a shiny new birthday or Christmas present, just put on the training wheels. The bike eventually leads children to venture out of the yard and later out of the neighborhood.

Once out of the yard – and, eventually, the neighborhood – cyclists seek more trails to follow.

From Weathersfield Township to Canfield, the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway features 11 miles of traffic-free pavement for locals to explore. The 81-mile trail connects to the Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway, stretching from Ashtabula harbor to Columbiana County.

“My favorite ride is the Friday night ride on the Canfield trail,” says Mary Merritt, president of the Out-Spokin’ Wheelmen bike club. “It’s a good ride to end your week,” she says.

Mary’s husband, Greg, leads the Friday night ride for the Wheelmen, the Mahoning Valley’s largest bike club with more than 300 members.

Plans for even more pavement are in the works for MetroParks.

“The bikeway Phase III will extend the existing 10-mile trail south from Western Reserve Road in Canfield Washingtonville and the Columbiana County line at [state] Route 14,” says Justin Rogers, planning manager for Mill Creek MetroParks.

Columbiana County has its own bike trail, the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail, that runs from Lisbon to Washingtonville

“We are seeking funding to run the bike trail along the north side of state Route 154 coming into Lisbon off state Route 11,” says Dottie Betz, commissioner of Columbiana County Park District. “This will add three miles to the current trail length of 13 miles.”

Ideas to make downtown areas friendlier to both cyclists and other pedestrians are also in the works.

The Creating Healthy Communities Coalition is working with the Toole Design Group, an architectural firm specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation, and has proposed to the Trumbull County Combined Health District a complete streets idea for the city of Warren. “A complete streets policy will change the process for designing, building, operating and maintaining the public right-of-way,” says the health district’s Jenna Amerine.

The first part of the project would be to connect the bike trail to the downtown with designated bike lanes on Elm Road and High Street. Amerine says these changes will make the streets safer for all modes of transportation, from bicycles to strollers to carts.

Still, a bike trail is no good without riders and, of course, bicycles. And there’s no shortage of bike shops in the area. In Pennsylvania, Bicycles and More serves New Castle while The Bicycle Store is an option in Hermitage.

In Ohio, there’s Glenwood Cycle in Austintown, Trailside Bicycle Co. and Outdoor Recreational Equipment in Boardman and Frankford Bicycle in Girard. In Warren, Thumm’s Bike and Clock has been in business for more than a century.

Trailside has a bike rental at the Mill Creek MetroParks Bikeway on Kirk Road in Canfield.

The shops can sell you a new bike or perhaps fix what you already have.

“I always ride a bike in the parking lot to make sure the repair is right,” says Dave Laird, bike mechanic for Outdoor Recreational Equipment.

An avid cyclist, Laird began working on bicycles in 1964.

“My heart belongs on a road bike, when you can go 30 miles per hour and all you got are your legs and lungs and can do it for a long time, that’s the neatest feeling in the world,” he says.

“We sell road bikes, mountain bikes and townies,” says owner Tony Ricchuti. “Older people like townies because they are a ‘flat-footed’ bike. When you come to a stop you can put your feet flat on the ground. They also come in electric,” he adds.

About five years ago, Outdoor Recreational Equipment began selling e-bikes. The bikes feature a battery that can provide extra power, making pedaling a bit easier.

“We had a 70-year-old guy get one to keep up with his wife who is 15 years younger,” Ricchuti says.

According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, sales of e-bikes, gravel bikes and BMX bikes totaled $229 million in the first quarter of 2018, up 2.4% from this time last year.

E-bikes can be found in many of the other bike stores in the area including Glenwood cycle in Austintown, Thumm’s Bike & Clock Shop in Warren, Frankford Bikes in Girard.

Ricchuti says that they sell about a dozen e-bikes each summer now.

“We can do maintenance on them. The motors are a warranted item so they can be sent out,” says Ricchuti. “Everything else is the same as a normal bicycle.”

Pictured: Members of the Out-Spokin’ Wheelmen bicycle club prepare for an event. The club has more than 300 members, making it the largest bike group in the Mahoning Valley.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.