Peace in our Parks

Submitted by metroparks muse on Sun, 10/19/2008 - 14:10.

The Plain Dealer today has a story on the local mountain bikers' belligerent battle with Cleveland Metroparks. The mountain bike crowd believes that parks exist for recreation - with their emphasis being on speed and obstacles - while actually MetroParks founding legislation was for protection of natural areas.

Bikers like the sensation of speed they get from whizzing past trees - and favor races, competitions, timed runs. Walkers, hikers, horseback riders generally move at a leisurely pace, admiring their surroundings, winding down from the speed of life elsewhere. Nothing wrong with bikers per se, but perhaps they could utilize brownfield areas leaving others to appreciate nature without being run over.

Elsewhere, as reported, "mountain biker-in-chief" President George Bush has proposed the national parks be opened to mountain bikes. His support may be welcomed by them, but doesn't win over environmental groups as indicated in the AP story Bush to help open national parks to mountain bikes

This is an expensive sport and Bush's support has been solicited by the companies who sell bikes.

"The president — who has a blue and white Trek bicycle dubbed Mountain Bike One — often rides on his ranch in Crawford, Tex. and in the Washington, D.C. area. He also has received several mountain bikes from companies like Cannondale and Trek."

One thing seen here is environmentalists facing the well-funded lobbying of a highly profitable sporting goods industry. Organized sports are big business and, as the financial collapse has shown, lobbying works well at removing regulations. Give the bikers themselves credit - they bring testosterone and IT skills and email onslaughts which tend to overwhelm the quieter voices and quiet places.

Cleveland MetroParks accommodates cross country skiing though not downhill skiing. A leisurely bike ride on the APT is one thing: speeding downhill is another. Downhill ski slopes were thought to be appropriate places for mountain bikes in summer - now even some of those risk-tolerant folks have chosen to remove the bikers. Mountain bikers post videos showing off their extreme speed - even over 100 mph - and their constructed jumps and obstacles. Not a low key walk in the woods - their nature is adrenaline charged.

Mountain bikers certainly have a right to their life style of thrills and competition. Park systems are not "obliged' to provide that experience. Users don't have a right to spoil the peace and quiet of nature. Come and enjoy the parks as they are: a refuge from frantic modern life.

bad idea all-round

As a former recreational dirt biker and sometime enduro rider from the '60s and '70s, down in Georgia and Alabama, I feel that this opening up the public parks to off-road/off-trail mountain bikes is an all-round bad idea. The knobby tires tear up way too much. It's that simple. And once it's torn up, it comes back too slowly, if at all.

Mountain bikes, dirt-bike motorcycles, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, and horses belong on private property, not in the public parks. They make permanent paths and ruts. Usually, hikers don't.



Old farts

As a very tame/wild biker type in my youth...I agree with Tim.  Guess that makes us OLD :) The old ones, old heads...there is something to be said for having the old around to remind the new, young, and often time spoiled, about appreciating the world.


Slow versus fast.  I am not a golfer and I don't endorse the sport, but MM, your post reminds us that the re-creation promoted by our Metropark system and National Park system was founded on the idea of "slowing" down, not speeding up.  That said, although golf is a "slow" form of recreation, it certainly would make me happy if the Metroparks let the golf courses revert to natural habitat.

"Pace of play"

Cleveland Metroparks abhors slow golf - hence the push for golf carts over the pleasure and exercise of walking. In fact, rangers on the course encourage players to move along. Faster play, more rounds, more rentals, more money. Mark Twain said "Golf is a good walk spoiled" - what would he think now?

Bush on a bike

Apparently Bush is trying to improve his dismal approval rating - like allowing mountain bikes in parks will do so for the majority of our countrymen. Pshaw!

Yesterday afternoon I was scooped up and taken to see the new film "W." by Oliver Stone. After seeing this film, Bush's mountain bike in parks business makes total sense. It fits right in with the personality portrayed in the movie. The cowboy president who never got over his fathers admonitions and disappointment.

We knew there'd be "October surprises" and McCain has provided an array of them, but Bush is pushing hard to serve up an end of term smorgasborg of his own. Let's see... in addition to the inevitable financial meltdown that did not wait until the next administration to surface, there's now this mountain biking in parks BS. How many more days and how many more disappointments do we have time for before the end of the Bush legacy?

Maybe the Metroparks would like to offer up a golf course for mountain bikers.

Understand mountain biking

There's a lot of misinformation about what mountain biking is and is not out there and I'd like to try and clarify.

 Cross Country Off Road Cycling

 First, I don't think a lot of people understand that cycling, just like skiing, has many different "subcategories" within the sport.  In skiing, you have downhill, cross-country, freestyle, jumping, ballet, and others.  Cycling is the same: you have road cycling, cyclocross, and mountain biking.  Within mountain biking you have even more subcategories.  You have cross-country, downhill, jumping, trials, and more.  

 What CAMBA has always promoted and advocated is CROSS-COUNTRY.  Cross-country mountain bikers ride trails that look no different than hiking trails because there really is no difference between hiking trails and cross country mountain bike trails.  Speeds are slow...even Olympic events average no more than about 9 mph.  It's not the "thrill seeking, adrenaline filled" sport that you see on TV.  In fact, you RARELY see cross country mountain biking on TV or YouTube because it is so boring to watch!  Again, just like don't see much cross-country skiing on TV, right?

 Here's a video of a recent race between Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens that's give you an idea what cross-country looks like:


 The other subcategories of mountain biking...the jumping, tricks, downhill, etc get all the media attention because it's exciting to watch.  But the truth is that as a percentage of the people in our sport, they are tiny.  The vast majority rides cross-country.

 There's also a ton of very bad information out there about impact on the land.  While some people like to believe that mountain bikes have a big impact, the facts and studies simply prove otherwise.  I've probably read more of these studies than most and I have yet to see one that doesn't conclude essentially the same thing: that bikes and hikers have very similar impacts and horses, ATVs, and motorcycles have much more impact than hikers and bicycles. 

I'd really encourage people to come out and meet some mountain bikers.  I think you'd find that most of us are about as environmentally conscious as they come.  The reason for this is simple...we spend as much time as we can quietly enjoying the woods and we've made a connection to the the outdoors.  Therefore, we VALUE the outdoors more than most.

The truth is, we've got a real problem right now in our society....we've got too many "digital options" out there and too many people (especially kids) are content with sitting at home with their 850 channels of TV and their video games.  They are losing their connection to the outside and as a result, those of us who value the wilderness are losing allies.

Cleveland is not any different than other urban areas and most every other urban area in the country allows cross-country mountain biking in parks such as Cleveland Metroparks.  It can work here.

Finally, I'd like to point out that mountain biking is about as peaceful as you can get in the woods.  Again, the people that want to ride these trails aren't the mountain dew slamming, cheetah chasing people you see on TV.  In fact, the people you see on TV can't even ride most trails because they aren't in shape for it!

Take a moment to objectively look at cross-country off-road bicycling and I think you'll be surprised at what you see.  Come to a CAMBA meeting or event if you want to see one in person.  We'd be happy to have a calm, reasonable discussion with anyone.


Mike Farley

Founder & Advocacy Representative

Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association

cutting a wide swath

Well said, Mike.

I'm strictly a road-rider, (though the shape of many Cleveland roads is sometimes too much for my thin tires,) -- to say that I don't have much personal stake in the matter -- but I've heard this debate before and generally agree with you.

There are walkers and hikers that cause havoc just the same, though likely not quite as much ~ a vehicle can help multiply that harm. But I'd probably draw the line at the non-biological motor, (and maybe with some speed and noise limits, like we have in asphalt land?)

On the other hand, I'd guess you've read some of Mike Vandeman's work? A a curmudgeon, himself, but with some well contrived arguments...

Mountain Bikers LIE!

"When I ride my mountain bike today, I almost always drive to the trailhead.  HOWEVER, that's because I have to, not because I want to."


I don't understand why mountain bikers can't ever tell the truth?! As you well know, you CHOOSE to drive. Nobody FORCES you to drive. Sheesh. Maybe if mountain bikers would start telling the truth, they would get some respect. Then again, if they did that, maybe people would see them for the shallow, selfish thrill-seekers that they are. There is no rational way to justify mountain biking. NONE. You are just lying to yourself and others.


For the TRUTH about mountain biking:

Michael Vandeman on bikes

Thank you for making your well-reasoned arguments available here at REALNEO.  I am a fan of your writing.  No one wants to protect the planet.  I am glad that you do :)

We have a Bike Summit in CLE this weekend.  Are you a speaker ?

How do you get to the park?

Mike- I don't know you personally, but I have read your work on CAMBA and I can see that you are a rational guy.  You also know that despite all of your best intentions to groom responsible riders, you have yahoos in your ranks.  Let's face it.  People go out and buy an expensive bike and it's not for commuting. So, two questions: what strategies have you taken to make the sport acceptable to a wider public?

1.) Do you ride your bike to the park?  Be truthful.  Sure--many permitted users: hikers, joggers, touring cyclists, birdwatchers, fisherman/women, cross-country skiiers,  etc also drive to our parks, but their activities don't necessarily compromise  the experience of other park users and many of these users also DO get to nearby parks without using a car (I am thinking touring cyclists).  CAMBA members could get a lot more leverage with park administrators if they made the case that they get to the park without using a car.  Have you tried this strategy? 

I worked for the Metroparks and I lived through the faddish era of snow mobiles, roller blades, model airplanes...there are always park users who are unhappy with the Metroparks policy. 

2.) As the head of an organization that is basically a club for members of some financial means, you have the option to buy land to entertain your sport and then enter into a conservation easement with the Cleveland Metroparks or another land trust (I am thinking of the hunt clubs in Maryland).  Has CAMBA explored this option?

So, two questions for you, Mike.  I look forward to a calm, reasonable response.


By car, but not because I want to


1.  When I ride my mountain bike today, I almost always drive to the trailhead.  HOWEVER, that's because I have to, not because I want to.  I live in Lakewood and when I started mountain biking (and before I knew it was illegal), I used to ride from my house down into Rocky River Reservation.  Believe me, I LOVED being able to ride my bike to the trails.  A big reason I keep working at gaining access is because I WANT to stop driving to the trailhead.

With the trail at Ohio & Erie Canal, I have ridden a few times to the trail, but that adds at least 45 minutes on either end of the ride and it's not exactly a pleasant, safe ride getting from Lakewood to East 49th & Harvard.  Plus, with the trail being less than 2 miles long, it's just not worth it.

To be honest with you, I really don't believe many Cleveland Metroparks staff are too concerned about this.  I've met many of them now and several I talked to lived 30 miles or more from Cleveland.  I have actually been surprised to hear how far away from Cleveland many do live (30+ miles in many cases).  Personally, I live in Lakewood, I ride my bike to the rapid station, and take the train to work.

2. I recall standing up at an International Mountain Bicycling Association summit in Utah in 2002 when CAMBA was just forming.  I asked the people at the conference how a club without a dollar in the bank can do the kind of work these other clubs were doing!  Times have changed and we're doing much better than before, but we're hardly loaded.  CAMBA's bank account right now stands at about $6,000.  That's a record for us, but probably not enough money for us to buy a tree lawn! :)

We are cyclists and I don't see cyclists as being any better off financially than most folks.   Our membership has people from all walks of life...from machinists and teachers to doctors and lawyers.

Buying land is a good idea and it has been done by a club in the Boston area, but it's really not something that our organization or members has the time or desire to do, especially when the end result would likely be a block of land way outside of Cleveland that we'd still have to drive to.


Mike Farley


Same page

See Mike, you and I are definitely on the same page on how some park administrators don't walk the walk (we don't want to get started on Fred Rzepka...!). They just talk, talk, talk GREEN, all the while living in "God's country," (Geauga county) and living the good life off the back of the city folks. One administrator used to drive from his house in Geauga and then pick up a Metropark vehicle to get to the administration building. Good grief.

But Mike, we will never agree on the philosophy of entitlement. We are none of us entitled to exclusive park use. We all have to share open space and as a commons it is too fragile to let laissez-faire guide the protection of our natural resources.


I really truly hope that CAMBA will refocus it's energies on acquiring land (I also wish that the Metroparks would refocus their energies on acquiring land, but I gave up on that hope when I worked there).

There are large, large tracts of land in the Big Creek, Mill Creek and the Rocky River valley that could be acquired. If it has not already been sold--the Girls Scouts had a large property on the East Branch of Rocky River. There are other camps and golf courses that will be available. Don't overlook church holdings...(the Catholic Diocese comes to mind). Sure, the price is high now, but if gas prices continue to climb, then the prices will come down and CAMBA will be able to say they played a role in preserving the natural heritage of our region.

thought about land in the city?

Tracts of land are opening up in the city. They can be had for a song. How about a swath of urban land and a program to involve urban youth?

Buying land isn't practical

Again, I think there is a misunderstanding of what cross-country mountain biking is all about that leads people to think that any piece of land would do.  The best way to look at it is by comparing it with hiking.  It's unlikely that you'd be able to convince hikers to hike a patchwork of properties in the middle of a city and mountain bikers are no different. 

Consider West Branch State Park, where there trails we've built and maintain.  The section of the park where the mountain bike trails are situated is roughly 1000 acres and there's a total of around 11 miles of trail.  Our organization considers that piece of land to be completely "built out", meaning we won't be adding any more trails.  That's because we feel the density of trails is high enough already.  Just like hikers, mountain bikers don't have want to ride a trail that zig zags all over the place.  

I think there's a perception out there that cross-country mountain bikes are content with riding something like a track or a race-course where you do lap after lap.  That's really not what hikers would ever want and that's not what mountain bikers want either.  They want the characteristics that we talk about in our 100 mile trail vision: sustainability, flow, and scenery.

Teaching urban youth to mountain bike is something we've actually already done and hope to do more of soon:



Mike Farley

Founder & Advocacy Representative

Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association

How Ironic!

How ironic that the folks above feel entitled to their hiking trails, but insist that MTB riders are not entitled to trails. Where's the difference?

I have an idea: How about we have the hikers buy up their own land for hiking clubs. Oh -- you already do that in your taxes for the Metroparks? Well, guess what? So have the cyclists. And since they stay fit, they will live a lot longer than their critics and thus pay more for the Metroparks -- unless the hostility toward them in this town drives them away. (To wit: Look at the comments on the bottom of the PD story online. So much hatred for cycling here. God!)

More to the point: Can any of you who oppose mountain biking produce any evidence of its harm? The burden of proof should be on you, not on the bike riders, because they have a pretty impressive case that they don't wreck the trails any more than hikers do, and they just want to enjoy the woods in peace.

It's clear that Mr. Farley is talking to walls -- sedentary, physically unfit walls -- on this board, and at the Metroparks. Facts are facts, and the facts support the mountain bikers (I am not one -- yet -- but I ride to work and ride on the road on weekends). I'm acquainted with the park manager at West Branch State Park. He loves CAMBA. Once told a friend of mine, only half jokingly, that he hopes the Metroparks don't allow mountain biking, because he's afraid he'll lose "his" mountain bikers and all the great things they do. Look him up (John Wilder) and ask him about the negative impacts the bikers have had on that park. He will tell you they've had none.

But that's counterintuitive, so people will believe what they want to believe.

Good luck, Mr. Farley. If you look at this board, you'll see it's full of self-important curmudgeonliness from Roldo wannabes who criticize everything about Cleveland because -- get this! -- they think it isn't progressive enough. Don't let them drag you down.

Do you want to take this somewhere, beside for a ride?

I personally agree with your positions and accept your claims about everything but realneo, which is a good group of people doing good.

And Roldo has been about the only consistently intelligent voice in any form of local media in my lifetime, and I truly value his insight. 

And many things about Cleveland totally suck and must be changed and we are focused on doing that here.

Here, you may influence public policy and perceptions about MTB... 

Regarding our parks - I'd rather see trails for MTB than golf courses, and I'd rather see food growing than anything growing in between. So I wouldn't keep much about our parks the way they are, if I was in Charge of them...

We have limited, crowded, overbuilt public parks in the downtown Cleveland metro area, anyways...

...and we need to start growing like $1 billion worth of local food on urban land, group of us are working on assembling 1,000+ acres all over urban greater Cleveland for urban farming... as much as possible developing large and easily connected parcels and connecting them with trails. One focus is on assembling what is in the Cleveland landbank (and inner ring landbanks) but we are also looking at partnering on and aquiring some property and farming some public property that is now just grass and scrub.

Farming the land will more than pay for the land, which may serve other purposes as well. 

I'd love to build into this plan some other values and creative partners, if you want to look at how this may benefit recreational and sport MTB - biking will be a big part of the transportation strategy... especially for farmers tending fields and moving produce from farm to market, etc.

If you want to plan MTB trails and tricks of all sorts into an urban farming and orchard vision, you may plan on 1,000+ acres within riding distance of Downtown Cleveland, over the next 3-5 years. 

Richard Fleischman is doing the master planning on this and I'm sure he would love your ideas. Do you want to take this somewhere, besides out-back? We meet weekly.

Disrupt IT

BTW - I'm not surprised you found bike-haters on hater-central... but realneo has many bike supporters as active members - Kevin Cronin  speaks well for bike transit - and the only active hater member ever on realneo raptured away over a month ago.

Curmudgeons rule!

Oh believe me, live2ride, I could care less if people disappeared from our parks period, but it doesn't work that way.  If I was running the world, my slogan would be Animals, go ahead, post here and welcome aboard.

There is no discrimination at RealNEO and your comments will remain uneditted.  If you are right, you will find more supporters logging on to back you up.  If not, your comments will still be heard by some one.  (And thanks for the Roldo comparison! I am definitely self-righteous and a bona-fide curmudgeon with the gray hairs to prove it--although I do take offense at the sedentary remark--I ride and swim and walk quite a bit for an old thing).

I'm a typical mountain biker.

I ride mountain bikes with my family.  I'm a 40 year old father of two young boys ages 5 and 8.  My wife and I often ride trails with our two sons.  We enjoy riding our bicycle on trails, because it's a great way to get outdoors.  It is also great exercise and we are able to cover a little more ground than we could if we were hiking.  This allows us to see more of what nature has to offer.  We don't smoke, drink and we never litter.

We also do a lot of hiking.  We often hike the metro parks and the Buckeye Trail.  I have to tell you, the mountain bike trails built by the volunteers at CAMBA are way more sustainable than most of the existing trail systems in the region.  There are no erosion problems, gravel paths or staircases.  All of the trails are built by hand and are no more than a few feet wide.  They are not 10 foot wide bulldozed paths with crushed limestone like many of the bridal tails.  The actually make very nice hiking trails.  Nicer than most of our hiking trails.

Many of you really don't understand what mountian biking is and who mountain bikers are.  In a nut shell, the vast majority of us are just hikers on wheels.   We drive our cars to a trailhead just like anyone else.  We hop on our bikes and quietly ride through the woods.  When we come upon hikers, we have to announce ourselves because they usually don't hear us.  (Yes, you often see hikers out mountain bike trails.  It doesn't bother us.)

As far as comparing mountain biking to motocross, that is absurd.  How do I know?  I own and operate a motocross track as a business.  Motocross is closed course competition.  All of Ohio's motocross tracks are privately owned.  The few rogue kids or hillbillies you see (or hear) riding illegally are NOT motocrossers.   Thankfully, they are NOT mountain bikers either.

Some of you people need to open your eyes.  Mountain biking is a clean, low impact recreation that is enjoyed by people of all walks of life.



Your family's riding habits are commendable, but can you guarantee the behavior of everyone else on a bike in the woods?

The Metroparks is not a wild experience. It's a controlled natural experience that tries to accommodate age and population groups that range from children, adults and seniors and the disabled.

NEO doesn't offer the vast open space that mountain bikes can enjoy in the western United States. Our natural areas are a limited resource and as such the Metroparks has to limit activities that can undermine and/or destroy our already compromised natural ecosystems. As it is, our "natural areas" are already compromised by alien species that essentially leave us with a "garbage" experience. Think phragmites, japanese knotweed, and starlings...Bikes also spread these alien plant species...

The Metroparks also does not have grizzlies, mountain lions, wolves, moose and other large predators that might discourage the average suburban from venturing through the woods. If we did have those animals here and if we did have more of the real "natural" experience, I suspect that we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

(BTW--I am not a moron and I can read your comments at CAMBA's site, just like everyone else can. I guess you could say that my eyes are wide OPEN :)

With the same respect.

"Your family's riding habits are commendable, but can you guarantee the behavior of everyone else on a bike in the woods?"

No I can't, nor should I have to. Can you guarantee the behavior of every "hiker" in the woods or any other person using the park?

I have seen beer cans and cigarette butts on our hiking trails.  I've seen couples "making out" on our hiking trails.  I've smelled pot on our hiking trails.  I have never experienced such things on a mountain bike trail.  

I have ridden with all kinds of people from teenagers to people considered "over the hill".  Most all of them were pretty much just like me.   We just want to enjoy a peaceful ride through the woods, enjoy what mother nature has to offer and get in a little excersise.   

What I'm saying is that I am a typical mountain biker.  Most of us would never spend the time to make a YouTube video and if we did, it would be rather boring.  Most of the time, our wheels never leave the ground.  Most of us have no interest in racing.  I've been riding since 1991 and the only thing that has changed is that I share my experiences with my children.  Like I said before, we are just like hikers except we ride bicycles.  

As far as calling people morons (not just you), I stand behind my comments.  For example:

  • Very few people live next to a park.  So most park users drive their cars to get there.  Discussing how cyclist get to a tail is pretty narrow minded.  
  • The argument that CAMBA should purchase it's own land.  Funny how the hikers and horseback riders aren't expected to pay for the land. 
  • The argument that the parks shouldn't pay to build tails for cyclist.  CAMBA does all the work for free.  They don't use taxpayer money to bulldoze and stone or pave "tails".  (Who pays for all of that crushed limestone used to maintain equestrian trails????  You do!)  They don't use taxpayer money to clearcut trees in order to put up buildings and picnic shelters.
  • The argument that dirt bikes and ATVs are bad so bicycles are too.  That's absurd.  Motorcycles produce 30 to 45 horse power, weigh over 200lbs and have "large" knobby tires.   My bicycle weighs less than 25 pounds and has  one "man power"(me).  The tires on my bicycle are a little over 2" wide with knobbies about 1/16" deep.  My my hiking boots have a much deeper tread than my bicycle tires.

With all due respect, I think these arguments are very weak.  Sorry.

"...big enough that there ought to be a place for everyone..."

I still conclude people are fighting over scarce resources in a land of plenty, which needs nature rebuilt in all places anyways.

How about we focus on some radical urban planning... MTBs and all human powered transportation should be part of restoring land and nature, rather than incorporated into failed unnatural planned systems like the Metroparks, nearing an end to their lifecycles.

The Metroparks and national parks are government regulated public lands influenced by politics... at best, good results driving change there will take years.

For me, living in the city, on the east side, the Metroparks are in another world... I don't use them, ever. 

For as little land as folks are fighting over in the Metroparks, there is much more better-located wasteland all around Cleveland and our urban core that needs to be remade into something good for society, and will support bike transit, and could support many forms of bike recreation, connecting all parts of the city, and even the Disneynature surrounding the city, creating a new model for managing nature for our kids' futures. 

Do you really just plan to leave your kids burned out, DisneyMetroparks with a few miles of trails, or do you want to design and develp something better? What will be the nature of NEO's nature, for the future?

My future nature vision for the region includes 10,000s of new acres of food, offering many other natural values to people who want to enjoy real natural states, which are varied.

You decide what natural states you want in your life... in your real NEO.

I don't think the answers are under old rocks in industrial-era nature zoos... trails or no trails. 

Disrupt IT

"you people"?!?

Is that like the much recently repeated McCain verbal faux pas "that one" in reference to Obama?

Excuse me, but I doubt anyone here at realneo (all of us independently and staunchly opinionated) prefer to be referred to as "you people". Let' please try to hold off on the epithets. We won't lump all cyclists together. Please don't lump all citizen journalists together.

The assertion that mountain

The assertion that mountain bikers should buy their own private land to build trails seems to be a recurring theme lately. 
- Do boaters buy their own lakes? 
- Do fishers buy their own coves? 
- Do kayakers buy their own rivers?
- Do hikers buy their own trails? 
- Do golfers buy their own courses? 
- Do campers buy their own parks? 
- Do soccer players buy their own fields?
- Do ice skaters buy their own rinks?
- Do cross country skiers buy their own trails?
No, all of the above benefit from paying taxes for the good of all.  As do mountain bikers. The difference between all the above and mountain bikers is that mountain bike trails are almost exclusively built by volunteer hours and donations out of our own pockets. 
As for me, I'm a 45 year old financial analyst.  My emphasis is not on "speed and obstacles".   I ride with people 20 years older than me and 40 years younger. The sport is only as expensive as you want to make it (like the choice between a Yugo versus a Ferrari),  I don't race and became MORE protective of the environment AFTER I became a mountain biker and was able to enjoy it first hand rather than read about it in a book.

Such defensive energy seems out of CAMBA character

Do you only care about having a few trails in a few parks?

Is there any discussion among MTB enthusiasts about reusing the land here that has been destroyed by failed development - is there a master plan for the perfect NEO, if you have your way? 

I don't think it is productive to harp on people here who are pretty much all bike riders and supporters and who largely support your interests, and feel the metroparks are poorly managed, and see opportunity in merging good recreation with good land use and urban and Xurban redevelopment, always with bikes in mind.

Haters, of bikes and on bikes, all belong at

If you really read this thread and look beyond you'll find nobody here feels NEO or the Metroparks are ideal for any of us and we are working on changing things here... these have been matters of discussion here for over 4 years

It is nice to hear mountainbikers' perspectives... but all the MTB enthusiast comments here, but from Mike Farley of CAMBA, seem defensive and at times hostile, which paints MTB enthusiasts that way. I wouldn't want someone so hostile riding up on me in a park, even with kids in tow.

I don't see anyone from the MTB-world posting productive thoughts or suggestions on how to make the world better for MTBs and all... the MTB position stated here seems very us-against-them, self-righteous and selfish, which isn't very appealing.

Is there some petition we may sign to change MTB policy, or are we really just supposed to support MTBs because Bush rides one?

Disrupt IT

Norm,  I totally agree,


 I totally agree, some of the comments you're seeing are out of character and certainly don't represent the leadership of our organization.  As I said on the related topic on our forum, the Internet can be really useful, but some days it can really make a person crazy and this is one of those days.

CAMBA is a 501c3 non-profit.  Because of that, we are completely open to the public and we aren't allowed to pick and choose our members, who shows up to our events, or who posts on our forum.  So you may consider what you read on our forum a "reflection of CAMBA or mountian biking", but I just don't feel that's accurate.  To post stuff on a forum, such as ours or RealNEO, you need the time and you need the desire.  There are thousands of mountain bikers out there who have neither.  The great thing about the internet is that anyone can share their opinion...the downside (as I'm sure you've seen) is that a tiny number of vocal individuals can end up being perceived as representative of everyone. 

I'm sure you see this frequently, but it's always helpful to remember what I like to call the "e-courage factor".  What people are willing to say online is often much more pointed and aggressive than what they are willing to say face to face.  Being on the internet and posting under something other than their real name allows them to be annoymous.  CAMBA sees this all the time.  We have people come to our forum and, for example, criticize something we've done at a trail that they don't like.  Sometimes they are very agressive or rude.  This has nothing to do with CAMBA, this is the Internet.  I own a Honda Ridgeline and there's this great forum out there for owners of this vehicle.  What blows my mind is the amount of trash talking on a silly forum for owners of a car.  Would people do this in person just talking about stupid truck?  Of course not.  Again...I think it's the annonymity of the internet that drives this.

Anyway, another thing I'd like to point out is that every single user group out there has "bad apples".  Fishermen fish without a license, skiers ski out of bounds, hikers throw trash on the trail...and so on.  We've heard this one before many times, so we put together an article on our site addressing this:

Thanks for listening and thanks for the productive conversation.  I'm always interested in educating anyone and everyone about what our sport is and is not about.



Mike Farley

Founder & Advocacy Representative

Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association

I'm sorry Susan Miller.  I

I'm sorry Susan Miller.  I wasn't directing that at you Susan Miller.  I was talking to the other "you people".

So Susan Miller, out of everything that has been (logically) written here the best you could come up with is "'you people'?!?  Very impressive.  Maybe I should have said "some of you (citizen journalists??  WHAT?)".  Sorry about the "faux pas" Susan Miller.



I'm almost done.

The metropark muse writes:

"Bikers like the sensation of speed they get from whizzing past trees -
and favor races, competitions, timed runs "

This been pointed out to be WRONG!  We pretty much want to move at a leisurely pace,  and admire the surroundings while we wind down.  I'm guessing that you want the same thing while your in the woods. 
The muse continues:
"Nothing wrong with
bikers per se, but perhaps they could utilize brownfield areas leaving
others to appreciate nature without being run over."
Think about this.  What should you be more worried about, being run over by a large horse weighing upwards of 2000 pounds, or a 25 pound bicycle?   The horse has a mind of its own, a bicycle can't cause any harm on its own.   (The bike doesn't poop all over the trail either.)* 
Think about it...
*Nothing against the "horsemen" out there.  Simply making a point.

This is too easy!

Norm Roulet painting all of us mountain biking enthusiast as defensive and hostile.  That is funny.  You got it, we just ride around looking for a fight.   Seriously, is THAT the best argument against us you can come up with?  You must think we are stupid too.  I'm not being defensive, I'm actually offended.

I am NOT a CAMBA representative, so I can only speak for myself.   I am not being defensive or hostile.  I'm simply trying to point out the absurdity of some of these arguments.  The reality is that either some of you have no clue about mountain biking or you are simply offering up a bunch of excuses.

If you really want to see a Cleveland revival, then make Cleveland appealing to young people.  Why would a young professional want to put roots in Cleveland?  They don't.  Cycling is just a small piece of the puzzle, but it is a piece and it's one that could be had for almost nothing.  Unfortunately cycling is so misunderstood that it is a piece that is still missing.

Well, I'm done.  People will either understand what I have written or they won't.  There is no sense in me getting into a debate about it.   But think about it.  Get to know what mountain biking really is and who mountain bikers really are.  You might be surprised how incredibly wrong the muse is.


It’s easy to see how misconceptions about mountain biking originate –jumping to conclusions.  First off, I am not a member of CAMBA nor do I speak for them The very first sentence of the “muse” calls mountain bikers belligerent.  I count no less than eight misconceptions in the blog entry.  In your mind, to correct them would be unproductive?    Too often, silence is taken to mean agreement. There are plenty of misconceptions about mountain biking, including several by the “muse” above.  If they are not pointed out then others take them as fact.  Don’t take opposing views as hostile or “unproductive”.   They are an opportunity to learn.  The danger in surrounding yourself with only those who think like you is you begin to believe that everyone agrees with you. 

the other discussion forum on this

Thanks ohiomoto for the apology. I am becoming more educated on the mountain biking issue as a result of the muse's post and the rants that have ensued here. I just spent several hours reading Mike Vandeman's website. But I wanted to give equal time to CAMBA's response. So I searched Vandeman at the CAMBA forum. I found this and this. Just trying to understand both sides of the issue. Reading the comments on the CAMBA forum though I can see why the muse used the word belligerent. Here's an example (a comment in response to the posting on Vandeman),

"I'm gonna find out where he lives and build a pump track in his front yard.
Anyone want to help?
Cleveland Freeride."

Yikes! How does this further the arguments made in favor of mountain biking? IMHO, it doesn't.

Mike Vandeman's website


 I'll be honest with you.  If you want to fire up a bunch of mountian bikers, mention  Mike Vandeman and you'll be certain to do so.  He's pretty much the Jeremiah Wright of the anti-mountain bike world. 

Not unlike Jeremiah Wright, he represents an extreme view.  A perfect example of just how silly he is comes from his site: "Mountain bikers regularly fall off their bikes, resulting in
paraplegia, quadriplegia, or even death. This obviously cancels out any
possible health benefit."  Anyone who takes a statement like this seriously is someone that I'll never be able to have a reasonable conversation with, so I won't waste my time.

If you're trying to understand both sides, I would encourage you to seek out scientific studies out there that have examined mountain biking.  In my opinion, that's about the only thing that qualifies as objective.  Click here for a summary of them.   

 I'd also suggesting reading this from CAMBA's site:

--- Mountain Bikers: What's our image?

Finally, remember that we joke around a lot on our forum because that's just the kind of poeple we are.  Obviously, this guy isn't really going to go build things in this guy's front yard.  But again, Mike Vandeman has some pretty radical, crazy stuff on his website, so people get worked up when they read it. 



Mike Farley

Founder & Advocacy Representative

Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association

Mike Farley

CAMBA is lucky to have you as a spokesperson. If your sport stands the test of time, you will find a sane outlet for your form of recreation. We are all desperately in need of RE-CREATION :)

So, please post your thoughts on anything and everything else, too. I like your writing style.

Loss of people - status quo is not the answer

Last week, CoolCleveland and The Cleveland Foundation’s Civic Innovation Lab hosted a celebration at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park that was attended by hundreds of people who want to make Cleveland a better place. At the same time, mountain biking is illegal in virtually every public park in northeast Ohio. 

Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park is a creative use for a vacant warehouse in an inner city Cleveland neighborhood.  It has been written up in countless national and international magazines that cover bicycling and also magazines that cover urban re-development. Discovery Channel filmed a feature about Ray's, the park generated 800 hotel room nights in six months from out-of-towners coming to Cleveland, it has created true economic development and added to the local economy. If those same people tried to mountain bike in public parks in the actual outdoors, they would face fines, prosecution and confiscation of their bicycles.  

As the previous co-owner of Century Cycles, I had thousands of people ask me "so...where's the best place to go mountain biking around here?" I had no choice but tell them that mountain biking was illegal in Cleveland is illegal in the Cuyahoga Valley National is illegal in almost every public park in northeast Ohio.

This summer, over a dozen bicycle store owners signed a letter to the park administrators telling them that not having legal mountain biking areas is hurting their businesses.   In other parts of the country, entire towns have been saved by the economic benefits brought by supporting mountain biking.

Cleveland has a very active and very professional mountain biking advocacy group that has been trying to persuade Cleveland Metroparks to allow mountain biking... just like they provide for horseback riding, hiking, golfing, swimming, boating and dozens of other outdoor activities. I was shocked to read a recent recap of Cleveland Area Mtn Biking Association's efforts over the past 14 years to try to get Cleveland Metroparks to acknowledge that mountain biking is a viable sport that thousands of people are interested in.  


As our area loses active, creative, progressive people, it is clear that maintaining the status quo is not the answer.  It is time that northern Ohio caught up with the rest of the country and encouraged mountain biking and also encouraged using bicycles for transportation. 

An apology might be in order.

It appears that some of you feel that my postings were hostile.  I keep seeing the word "hostile" and think to myself "who is being hostile?"  So I read everything again and I can see how I may have come across that way. 

I honestly did not intend for my writings to come across as being hostile.  If they come across that way as you read them, please try to read them in a different voice.  As I wrote those comments, my emotions more along the lines of someone "pleading his case".  As if to say "But look at it this way and maybe you will understand it better."  My motivation was simply to point out some obvious (to me) flaws in some of the points made against mountain biking.   Unfortunately, I'm not Mike Farley when it comes to penmanship.  I now realize that I probably came across much harsher that I felt I was being and I did use unnecessary sarcasm.  Please accept my apologizes.

I would also like to apologize to anyone who may feel as though I was attacking them.  I will leave my original posts for everyone to read, but to insinuate that anyone on here is a "moron" was wrong.  Quite the opposite is true.   Obviously there is a very intelligent group of users here.  Please accept my apologies.  

In reality, we are probably more alike than we are different.  I  think that even though we may not completely understand each other and we may not desire the exact same outcome, it is clear to me that we all want to live in a better place. 

Finally, I would thank those of you for trying to understand mountain biking a little better.  I'll step back now let Mike Farley do his thing. 

Thanks for your time and happy trails! 




Tim Bernhard

Hudson, Ohio

Mountain Biking Belongs in Parks -- Part of Range of Options

I'm sorry to have missed much of the spirited debate on cycling, but I would like to add to the basic point and that is that mountain biking is a positive feature and part of the full range of activities that should be available to park patrons. ClevelandBikes, while better known for cycling and transportation, bike commuting and the like, supports the mountain bike volunteers and their activities in the parks. They are responsible volunteers and have done remarkable things for their sport and Northeast Ohio - building trails, providing information and educating new riders. While the park officials, and cyclists, have concerns for the quality of trails, that is a trail design issue, not one that should prohibit them from building successful trails and riding in the parks. That's what trial periods are about. The mountain bike community is a very positive and welcome force in Northeast Ohio. There should be room in the parks for everyone.

Common ground

It's nice to know that we can talk and learn about the goals we share for a better NEO.  Certainly, bikes figure into that future.  We also need less talk and more decisive action.

We have to find better ways to get from point A to point B.  Cars are going to be less of an option. 

Fortunately, those of you/us who ride bikes of any design are literally in better shape.  The rest of the world (especially the next generation) has some catching up to do.

Laura McShane