Green Portage: Area couple enjoys bicycling to work

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We're outdoor enthusiasts who love to hike, bike, swim and paddle. We met at Kendall Ledges, and our "first date" was a whitewater canoe trip on the Class-III Youghiogheny River. Among Portage County's attractions even in the early 1970s were parks like Towner's Woods and Fred Fuller … and, of course, the mighty Cuyahoga.

In 1979, we moved from Kent to Brady Lake and have lived there ever since. The area had much to offer 30-odd years ago, and succeeding decades have witnessed almost-miraculous improvements.

Noteworthy developments include breaching the Kent dam and creating Riveredge Park. Equally impressive are new hike/bike paths. We often use the section west of Lake Rockwell Road to ride to work in Kent.

Cycling to Nancy's office takes 20 minutes, not much longer than it would take to drive and park. After passing Towner's Woods and Beckwith's Farm, she turns west onto the trail.

She rolls along the former railroad right of way, with iron tracks to her left and Beckwith's woods on the right. As she approaches walkers or joggers, she calls, "Passing Left!" And "Thank you!"

She's happy to share the road, and they're pleased that she didn't run them down. She traverses two bridges, then catches a glimpse of Kent's Lake Street industrial buildings and the entrance to the River Bend neighborhood. She hears the song of a train whistle and the rhythm of the train.

She sails on, with woods

on both sides. The Cuyaho-ga River and Standing

Rock are close on the right, followed by houses and more industrial buildings. Near the former Crain Street Bridge she dismounts, walks across the tracks to Water Street, then cycles two more blocks to her office.

Rick sometimes takes a longer route, south to Meloy Road, then north to Kent State University.

TOGETHER, WE enjoy road biking throughout Portage County and environs. We often ride to Hudson-Judson and pick up the Hike-Bike Trail that follows former railway paths through Portage, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties.

Biking to work involves a few challenges. It requires some riding on roads, and while we don't mind a little four-wheeled company, many people do. The city of Kent, AMATS and KSU are making roads more bicycle friendly, with bike lanes and improved signage. For those with hybrid or mountain bikes, a pea-gravel trail offers a safe commute between Kent and Ravenna.

Snow and ice present a serious impediment. The bike path isn't plowed, and traffic lanes on the roads are narrowed by snow that piles up on the shoulder. Most of our riding, therefore, is done between March and November.

Even in warm weather, complications arise. If it's raining, we arrive wet. If we carry books or computers, we need to keep them dry. When it's hot, we arrive sweaty. Some places of employment offer showers and changing rooms. Lacking that luxury, we wear something presentable, yet durable and not too heavy, and we force ourselves to ride slowly to keep perspiration to a minimum.

In return for a few inconveniences, we get exercise, fresh air, a great start to our work day, and the satisfaction of knowing we've not contributed to air pollution and climate change.

In addition to two long-established bike shops in Stow, two stores recently opened in the Kent-Ravenna area -- Kent Cycle and Portage Cyclery. For more information on local cycling, contact Kent State's Outdoor Adventure Center or the Akron Bicycle Club.

See you on the trail….

Rick Feinberg is a professor of anthropology at Kent State University. Nancy Grim is a Kent employment attorney. Green Portage is a monthly feature of the Record Publishing Co. in cooperation with the Portage Park District.

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