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Breaking out the scissors in the Great Lakes, again, and again, and again.

For the last few months I’ve found myself roaming the Great Lakes Region connecting with local chapters and clubs, meeting with land managers, and attending great events.  Each visit, ride, and presentation grows and establishes new relationships, strengthens the community, and builds the knowledge base of an already amazing group of riders and advocates.  As if those opportunities weren’t amazing, challenging, and rewarding enough, I’ve found one of the biggest task is simply trying to balance my schedule so I can attend the numerous grand openings of new trails systems and development projects across the region.


What makes these projects even more impactful is the majority are either in or just outside a metropolitan area and all would not have been possible with out the passion, support, and sweat equity put in by local mountain bike organizations and individual advocates.  Attempting to detail all the great projects would make this piece borderline unreadable so I’ll recap a few from across the region.


More and more trails are being constructed in Indiana State Parks thanks to the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, an IMBA Chapter.  With Harmonie and O’bannon Woods now possessing quality, professionally constructed trails, and with more mileage on the books, they are on their way to being the most MTB friendly state park district in the US.


In Ohio, the seventh most populous state, two new trail systems open in only weeks of each other.  Mitchel Memorial Forest, a county park, is the first trail in Hamilton County located on Cincinnati’s Westside only 15 minutes from the cities core.  During the grand opening, one of the newest IMBA Chapters, the Cincinnati Off-road Alliance, was commended for their efforts and leadership by park executives.  In Cleveland, the home of Rays MTB Park, the first single track trail system will open mid-June at the Mill Stream Run Reservation just outside of the loop providing a long awaited increase in trail mileage for local riders.  The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association, in partnership with MetroParks staff and SCA trail builders worked collaboratively to make this project happen.  Look for more trail development in the future at the Executive Director of Cleveland MetroParks recently stated he was creating a committee to explorer the feasibility of a destination trail system, thirty plus miles of additional trail mileage in the region.


Louisville, the City of Parks, recently re-opened a trail system in Cherokee Park designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead.  There are few opportunities for residence of an urban community to ride their bike to the trail head, hit some great singletrack full of rock unlike anything in the area, and ride home.  The Louisville KyMBA chapter is doing great work and has an amazing vision for the future of mountain biking in the region.  If they pull it off, and I think they will, Louisville will have one of the best urban riding scenes in the nation that Olmstead himself would enjoy riding.


The best thing is, this is only the beginning of a great year.  Numerous projects are in design and construction phases across Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio and I project even more grand opening celebrations the later half of 2012.  If you’ve been around the scene for a while you will notice the exponential growth in the access to great riding opportunities.  The movement is well on it way, especially in the great lakes.


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