Story from Sun News and Cleveland.com
When Jacob English was a boy growing up in Chagrin Falls, his life revolved around bicycles.
"As a kid," he says, "I competed in Freestyle BMX biking."
That's a sport where participants use their specialized bicycles for all kinds of tricks, from riding along narrow surfaces, to flips in the air, to "flatland" tricks.
Now that Jacob is 32, married to Kimberly English and living in Bainbridge, he is the owner/operator of Mountain Road Cycles in Chagrin Falls and Chardon. He's moved from rotating bikes in mid-air to promoting bicycling.
He works with the Safe Routes to Schools program, which is national and international in scope and aims to help and ultimately encourage students to walk and ride bikes to school.
"I'm the guy working on the biking portion, and trying to educate kids. I'd like to have schools change their policies to allow kids to ride their bikes to school."
According to local Safe Routes member Lorrie DiGiampietro, the group is "working to obtain federal funding to make our town more walkable and bikeable."
It's a cause that's a natural to Jacob English. The former BMX competitor began working for local bike stores at the age of 14.
"It's what I was always good at, so I stuck with it," he says.
He has expanded his interest in types of bikes.
"There's such a broad spectrum of bikes available that there's something for everybody, from kids to absolute enthusiasts.
" It's a fun, healthy, environmentally sound activity that nearly anybody can participate in."
If you think that you have to head to Seattle for great biking, Jacob English wants you to think again. This is a really great time for the Chagrin area in regard to biking. You've got the South Russell trail, and Mayor Thomas Brick appointed a new committee (of which Jacob is a member) to find trails around Chagrin."
His enthusiasm for biking isn't limited to Chagrin Falls.
"The Chagrin Valley and Geauga County has some of the best road riding in the country. The terrain of valleys, rolling hills, farmlands, lots of country roads and no major mountains to climb" are perfect for biking, Jacob maintains.
Among the activities Jacob English and Mountain Road Cycles promotes is an upcoming one is the "Right Side of the Road Chagrin Valley Bike Tour," on Aug. 2, which will benefit The Bright Side of the Road's effort to find a cure for ALS.
As for what advice he has for my readers, it's one I sincerely hope you bicyclists of all ages take to heart: "Wearing a helmet is essential," he says.
Take it from an expert bicyclist.