By Nicole Hennessy
After a long day, pent-up work-induced stress tends to melt away as the Metroparks come into
view – at least for those who choose to take an alternate route home. Light filters through the trees during months other than winter, when a deep, untouched freeze takes hold, painting leafless branches frozen.
The winding road does not tolerate speed, but sways at a 30-mile-per-hour pace. Things slow down.
Then the city comes back – traffic, buildings, businesses.
Inviting cyclists, bikers and, reluctantly, “cages” – commonly referred to as cars – the Cleveland Metroparks is encouraging people to do more than “cruise by,” but also to “take advantage of all the amazing opportunities that encompass the over 22,000 acres.”
Sometimes referred to as day trips or staycations, the Sept. 16 “rally” will be a good way to welcome fall, and will encourage people to venture beyond the same stretches of park that they’re used to.
Starting at CanalWay Center in Cuyahoga Heights, motorists will begin an all-day trip through the Emerald Necklace, during which stops will be made at various nature and information centers.
“A lot of the local people who use our parks put together rallies, but they don’t stop at our education centers,” explained Stacey Allen, manager of the CanalWay Visitor Center.
Geared toward motorcyclists, the rallies she is referring to are organized rides. This is the first-ever Metroparks-organized rally. Allen said a huge number of motorcyclists travel the parkway, so it seemed natural to draw in bikers.
Originally, the Rocky River Nature Center was to be included as part of the route. However, because of concerns about high traffic at an annual folk festival, the rally will avoid it by staying south of the facility for that portion of the trip.
The different areas of the Metroparks “all have their own unique personalities and specialties and their own flair, so getting people out to see those and find those out, then they’re going to, maybe, be willing to come back at other times,” Allen said.
In addition to hiking and biking, she lists activities such as canoeing and kayaking that people can take advantage of – activities that people who don’t often come to the park might not know are available.
Though this is not a guided ride, a limited number of group leaders will be available for those unfamiliar with the area.
According to the Cleveland Metroparks’ website, riders may also compete in a trivia contest, the answers for which will be found at the stops. The winner will receive a prize basket.
Participants are being asked to preregister before Sept. 10, and those who do will receive free coffee and doughnuts before the ride for doing so.
Registration the day of the rally begins at 10 a.m. The fee for drivers is $20, and for riders, $15. At the CanalWay Center, dinner will be served from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m.
CanalWay Center is located on Whittlesey Way, off the East 49th Street entrance of Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, between Grant Avenue and Canal Road in Cuyahoga Heights.
For more information, call 216-206-1000.