Mountain Biking Season Opens: Places you should ride

The dirt’s drying up, the bike racks are coming out of storage, and thousands of mountain bikers across Northeast Ohio are getting ready to shred.(1) Last Saturday I made a trip out to Mohican Wilderness in Loudonville to ride the 5.5 mile cross-country loop. It’s easily one of the gnarliest (2) trails in the area. The gut-busting uphill at the start, with its roots and rocks, will definitely remind you how out-of-shape you got during the winter. But after that it’s a great mix of cruising downhills, super-technical rock gardens, and hairpin switchbacks. The trails were still a bit muddy over the weekend, but should dry up nicely with all the sun this week. For riding a little closer to home, West Branch State Park near Ravenna is as top-notch as it comes. The greatest feature of this 10-mile trail is the diversity of terrain. On the side facing the lake, you’ll find lightning-fast ups and downs over smooth, packed dirt. Go to the other side and you’ll encounter some of the most challenging rock courses navigable by bike. Don’t even attempt the trail known as the “Rock Wall” unless you’ve got full body armor and balls as big as the massive boulders (3) you’re riding over. West Branch will officially open to riders on May 15, after the trails have a chance to dry. Until then, if you’ve got the cojones (4), make a trip down to Vulture’s Knob in Wooster, considered by most local bikers to be the pinnacle of free-riding in Ohio. The trail isn’t particularly pretty, but it definitely presents the rider with the most opportunities for injury. Super-skinny bridges tower over your head. Jumps literally rocket you off small cliffs. And one section forces you to cross a skinny bridge over a muck-filled swamp (we’re pretty sure there’s some bodies under there). Have a nice ride! – Jared Klaus (1) Shred – i.e. picture me, sinewy muscles gleaming with sweat, bronzed skin glowing in the sun, peddling my bike as if I’m powered by hydraulics. (2) Can you see how cool I am by the way I fluently speak SoCal? (3) “Balls as big as the massive boulders” – i.e. yes, that would be me. (4) Translation: Are you really man enough for me to even talk to you about this?
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