There's no need to rush during a bike ride at the Cleveland Metroparks' Mill Stream Run Reservation. When you take your time following the trail into and out of the woods, you notice that the birds provide an endless chorus and that the grass starts to look bluer because of the tiny bluet flower poking through. During the Tour de Necklace, the Metroparks wants to show bikers what they might be missing, and this is just one trail on which they're doing it.
In 1999, Canalway Visitor Center manager Foster Brown created the tour and named it as a nod to the Tour de France. Instead of racing to a finish line, though, he wants riders to leisurely pedal their way through the Emerald Necklace, which comprises 100 miles of Cleveland Metroparks trails starting in Westlake, dipping into Hinckley and ending in Willoughby Hills. "I started [the] Tour de Necklace primarily to get people out and get to know the Emerald Necklace as a whole," Brown says.
After skipping the tour in 2009, Brown handed the handlebars over to volunteer Bruce Amsel, who participated in the tours before he helped Brown lead them. Amsel and volunteer Lynda Warner chose one reservation a month from May through October for this year's tour, during which they give historical and recreational information on stops throughout the ride.
"[I like] being able to get outside and take other people outside and give them information about the parks which they may not have known," Amsel says. "We're like history teachers."
Mill Stream Run is this month's ride, which Warner chose for its long paved trails and scenery. On June 26, she and Amsel will start the approximately 13-mile round-trip ride at Wallace Lake in Berea and discuss how the area used to be a quarry where John Baldwin and James Wallace of Baldwin-Wallace College were quarrymen.
One place Warner hopes to stop is the Strongsville Wildlife Area, an area tucked away with a three-wall wooden shelter where riders can peek through the planks to watch ducks, turtles, birds and deer. And off to the left is an 8-by-8-foot elevated wooden box they call the "bat condo," housing up to 6,000 little brown bats.
After breaking for lunch at the end of the line, Warner and Amsel will take the group back, finishing another tour doing what they love and gearing up for the next ones: Big Creek Reservation on July 24, North and South Chagrin Reservations on Aug. 28, and Rocky River Reservation on Sept. 25.
"It's nice to share what I love about the parks with other people," Warner says.