By Lauren Sable Freiman
Photo by Doug Khrenovsky
Through a new partnership that launched this spring, CVSR passengers can now rent one of Cleveland Bike Tours’ 40 bikes at Rockside Station or on board a CVSR train. The company even offers bikes for kids and trailers that hold up to two children or 100 pounds.
“People were seeing bikers from the train and wanted to know how they could see the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that way,” Anne Smith says. “They approached us and asked if we wanted to put our bikes on their train.”
For Smith and her fiancé, Joe Christensen, being part of CVSR’s Bike Aboard program is a sign of exciting growth. The duo started Cleveland Bike Tours four years ago, when they realized their form of exercise and entertainment would fill a void for tourists and Clevelanders alike. The couple often rode their bikes in parks, but the day Smith suggested a ride through the city of Cleveland, Christensen hesitated.
“I’m a city girl, and he is a south of 480 kind of guy,” Smith says. “I grew up in Cleveland, my dad worked in the city, and I was very familiar with where I was.”
Ultimately, Christensen relented. He was treated to a bicycle tour of Cleveland, where Smith had an abundance of history to share. Then, it clicked.
“We did research and found out that there weren’t any bike tour companies in Cleveland,” Smith says. “It clicked that this was something that Cleveland needed.”
These days the city girl and the guy from the outskirts haul a trailer of bikes all around Cleveland. From May through October, they offer a full schedule of tours seven days each week. They also offer private tours and will even meet out of town guests at their hotel, with bikes in tow, to begin a tour. The tours mainly showcase downtown and Ohio City. Due to construction, University Circle tours are now available by request only.
“We have developed the tours so that if you haven’t been on a bike in 10 years, you can get on a bike with us,” Smith says. “We have comfort cruisers with bigger seats, and we love seeing our guests getting on there and ringing their bells. They are just so excited to ride their bikes, and it is really fun to watch that.”
Tours typically run four miles and last anywhere from two to two-and-a-half hours, depending on the tour’s participants. Smith is always happy to field questions or even take riders off the tour’s path at the request of participants.
Since the birth of Cleveland Bike Tours, more than 1,100 people representing 26 states and 14 countries have seen Cleveland by bicycle. Even locals have experienced Cleveland in a new way and left with a renewed sense of what the city of Cleveland has to offer.
“I am deeply in love with the city of Cleveland. I’m a huge advocate,” Smith says. “People leave my tours saying they had no idea how cool the city was, and showcasing my city like this is exciting.”
For more information: clevelandbiketours.com