Conquering 20 miles by bike

Photos by Valerie and Marie Urbanik | Civitas Media

Reporter Valerie Urbanik prepares for a 20-mile bike ride from Wellington Reservation to the Beaver Creek Reservation Metro Park in Amherst.

Valerie Urbanik heads out of the Wellington Reservation onto Jones Road.

Two bikers were spotted on the North Coast Inland Trail near Oberlin.

The journey ends!

Valerie Urbanik rides down South Lake Street to the Beaver Creek Reservation in Amherst.

A smile stretches across reporter Valerie Urbanik’s face as she pulls into Beaver Creek.

The Wellington Reservation was very quiet at the start of Urbanik’s 20-mile bike ride.

A horse was spotted in a pasture along the 20-mile ride.

Both sides of Quarry Road were covered in blooming lilies.

The sound of birds filled the air as reporter Valerie Urbanik passed by the former Cleveland Quarries in Amherst Township.

A 10-year plan to extend bike paths through Lorain County will connect each of its Metro Parks.

I set out June 25 on a 20-mile bike ride from the Wellington Reservation to Beaver Creek in Amherst to see what it would be like to make a full trek between the parks.

I was full of excitement and ready to ride until just minutes before arriving in Wellington.

That’s when I realized I hadn’t ridden a bike in a year and my nervousness took over. Questions filled my mind: Would I be able to make it? Would I cramp up? Would my legs start screaming in pain, begging to stop?

Luckily, I had no problems conquering my quest and defeating each hill as I slowly pedaled along Jones and Quarry roads.

The Amherst-to-Wellington journey, I learned, wasn’t as difficult as I thought. It took just under two and a half hours.

During that time away from a busy reporter’s desk, I had time to relax and look around. There were birds, a groundhog, beautiful flowers, horses, other riders, unique lawn decorations — a whole world I don’t normally get to notice from my car.

It was great to slow down and take in the sites. I am definitely interested in riding my bicycle more and plan to take advantage of the Metro Parks bike paths once they are completed.

Jim Ziemnik, director of county park system, said his plan is to have bike paths connecting Wellington to Lake Erie and east and west across the county.

“It’s really important for our people and the county,” he said. “This will be amazing. It’ll make us very accessible and connected.”

Ziemnik is working with the Lakeshore Rail Group in Wellington to connect the village’s park to Sheffield: “If we could get Wellington to Oberlin started and completed, that ties into the North Coast Inland Trail,” he said.

That 13-mile trail begins on Baird Road in Kipton and travels to Elyria. It also connects with the Back Roads and Beaches Bike Route.

The Metro Parks have already started expanding the North Coast Trail through Elyria toward Cascade Park. It’s expected to be completed in two or three years.

Ziemnik is talking with officials at the village of Wellington and Findley State Park to connect more bike paths to each park in Wellington.

“It’s very do-able,” Ziemnik said. “It’s very much about recreation and also about moving from point A to point B safely.”

He does not plan to have the bike paths stop in Lorain County, but to connect to each surrounding county. “We’re already connected to Huron County and we’re looking to connect to Vermilion and Erie county,” he said.

The director even has his eyes set on connecting to the Cleveland Metro Parks in the future.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.