Fast track: Metroparks plans mountain bike trail expansion, first NEO asphalt pump track

A new pump track in Northeast Ohio is coming to the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation later this year—sure to challenge any mountain bike or BMX enthusiast. Additionally, the Metroparks announced the expansion of it 2.5-mile mountain bike trail at the reservation, scheduled for completion next summer.

Metroparks pump track renderingThe pump track, which allows riders to loop around a track of hills and banked turns to hone their skills, will sit just north of the Canalway Center in Cuyahoga Falls.

“It’s a course for smaller BMX or mountain bike riders who [navigate the course] by pumping—using their own momentum or body to maneuver through the track,” explains Ralph Protano, Metroparks’ trail development manager. “You don’t have to pedal or brake. Your handling skills on the bike will improve.”

Jim Rodstrom, Metroparks director of construction, says the track is the first of it kind in the region. "It can be used in all different kinds of conditions," he says. "There's no other asphalt track in Northeast Ohio It's going to provide a great opportunity for people."

Protano says pump tracks have become popular, even becoming an international sporting event. In fact, Velosolutions, the parent company of the Metroparks pump track designer Joplin, Missouri-based American Ramp Company, founded the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships in 2018.

But Protano also assures that the pump track is suitable for almost everyone. “You can just roll and it’s like being on a roller coaster,” he says. “Just roll and [the bike] will do the work for you—it’s similar to skateboarding.”

Additionally, he says there’s a community aspect to pump tracks, similar to skate parks. “There’s conversations made about accomplishments and talking about their skills and bikes,” Protano says.”

American Ramp will be completing the track designs this summer and construction should be completed by this fall.

West Creek Reservation mountain biking Meanwhile, Metroparks’ oldest mountain bike trail—and the first 2.5 miles of what is now 30 miles of connected mountain bike trails today across Northeast Ohio in Bedford, Mill Stream Run, Ohio & Erie Canal and West Creek reservations—will be extended to about five miles this year.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for people to mountain bike and take advantage of the trail,” says Rodstrom.

The project is in partnership with Student Conservation Association (SCA), a conservation corps dedicated to protecting and restoring the country’s parks, public lands, and community green spaces. The students will begin working on the expansion of the natural surface trail this summer.

This is not a typical bike trail for leisurely cycling, says Protano. “It’s more about the experience of the ride, with different landscapes with an off-road style trail for people who enjoy the sport of mountain bike riding,” he says. “People ride the 2.5 trail now and loop it four or five times.”

The expansion will include sections of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails as well as a flow trail with jumps, says Rodstrom.

Like the pump track, the mountain bike trail is just north of Canalway Center and connects to the nearby Towpath Trail, which runs through the reservation and provides trail access directly to and from downtown Cleveland.

The projects will be supported by Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund that helps preserve, maintain and expand Cleveland Metroparks 300-plus mile trail network.

As part of the Metroparks partnership, SCA will also be working on additional Cleveland Metroparks natural surface trails.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.