Thursday, October 4, 2007

New mountain bike trail in Cleveland Metroparks

I had the day off yesterday, so I decided to go check out the new mountain bike trail in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. I rode my bike up from Peninsula on the Towpath Trail in order to partake in the full experience.
The trail is really easy to find (see the directions on our web page by following the link in the previous paragraph). The trail is well-marked along the way as well (with a couple of exceptions) using this type of sign, which has become pretty much standard:
I like how they came up with that official "Mountain Bike Cleveland Metroparks" logo. Does this "branding" effort mean that bigger and better things are to come?

There is a point near the beginning of the Beginner loop where a sign directs you to turn left through a gate in a chain-link fence. For the first-timer, it's not real clear after that, but you need to then bear right, keeping the fence on your right, in order to continue on the trail.

There is another spot, near the end of the Intermediate loop, where the singletrack ends at a gravel road, near a large electrical tower. The marker there directs you to turn left. There is what appears to be another singletrack trail immediately on the left off of the gravel road, so I turned onto it. It didn't take long, after several bumps on the helmet with overhanging branches, for me to realize that this was a dead end, so I turned around back to the gravel road. I would suggest that repositioning the marker, or perhaps another marker, in this area would be helpful to make it clear that you are supposed to stay on the gravel road at this point.

I wonder how many attoryney-hours went into the wording on this sign:

I guess my only criticism of this new trail would be that it's too short. To be fair, that's not a fair criticism; hundreds of volunteer hours went into the building of this trail; they have to start somewhere, and it's a good start.
On my first loop around the trail, my opinion of it was kind of fickle. But I realized that I am probably just spoiled. When you ride your old favorite trails (e.g. West Branch, Mohican) over and over, you get to know the location of every rock and root, and memorize the optimal lines to ride. I always compare this to the way a golfer gets to know the slope of every green on their home course. So, being a first-timer, I was riding pretty tentatively. On my second lap, knowing that there was nothing unexpected that was likely to kill me, I rode a lot more agressively, and was having a hoot of a time!

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