All of us who ride bikes have stories. We tend to talk about feats of balance and speed, and about how we interact with cars. We talk about hardware and pavement. We talk about big rides, dream rides, fast rides. Whatever kind of bike you ride, and whatever the reason, the Great Lakes Courier is a place to tell your stories.

Anyone reading this probably knows 2012 is a great time to be riding a bike in Cleveland. You've seen some of the reasons every day—all those people out on bicycles, traveling here and there Some are going to work. Some are going to get bagels. Some are going to pick up the kids. Some are just out and about, enjoying a bit of physics as they go.

You can see rows of bikes parked outside shows at Pats in the Flats, or the Happy Dog, or the Beer Engine, or the Root Cafe. If you want real numbers, NOACA has them: In 2010, bicycle ridership had gone up fifty percent, county wide, over counts done the same way 4 years earlier. In some places--in Lakewood and University Circle, for example, the increase was even more dramatic. And that was 2010. In the year since then, anyone who pays attention to the roads in and out of downtown knows the number of cyclists has only grown. Consider the Critical Mass rides, which were drawing about a dozen people in at the late nineties, and now draws as many as 350 riders on a summer day.

But in addition to our sheer numbers, projects of all kinds are underway to make Northeast Ohio a better place to ride your bike. They range from everyday, utilitarian improvements like more racks around town, to potentially spectacular, headline-worthy developments.

Consider, for example, that a group of cyclists is close to breaking ground on the construction of a velodrome in Slavic Village. That's right—a velodrome in Cleveland: a banked oval for Olympic style track racing. Perhaps it will be a home for your Olympic dreams. Or maybe you'll think of it as an official place for your fixie, with no chuck holes or sewer grates: a place where no one worries about the fact that you don't have any brakes.

A velodrome in Cleveland. How can you not root for that?

Or consider that for the first time ever, Cleveland has a bike station: I'm talking about the Bike Rack, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance's half-million dollar commitment to providing cyclists a place to park their bikes, shower, and change into fresh clothes for the office after a commute downtown.

Consider that RTA will not only let you bring your bike on the train, but all its buses are also outfitted with racks.

Consider that the Lakewood Criterium, a sanctioned--Saturday evening race through one of the region's coolest neighborhoods—is in the planning stage for its second year. And not only that but the race is in the running to be the site for the 2012 Ohio Criterium Championship.

Consider the towpath.

Consider the Cleveland Metroparks Bikeway, and the multitude of other dedicated paths.

Consider that the Gund Foundation has funded a staff person for Bike Cleveland—which will for the first time give the region a professional, independent lobbying voice on behalf of cycling.

But all those efforts ride the momentum of that much larger truth: more people than ever are getting around town on bicycles.

That's better for our health, better for our pocketbooks, better for the air we breath, and frankly more fun. If you ride a bike, you're balanced on two wheels. You don't worry about bus routes or schedules because you go where you want, when you want. If you want to get there a little faster, you push a little harder.

It's worth saying again: This is a great time to ride your bike in Cleveland. And that's where the Great Lakes Courier comes in. It will be an even greater time for biking in Cleveland if the people who do it have a place to tell their stories and communicate their news. We want the Great Lakes Courier to be ta mouthpiece for all the voices of northeast Ohio cycling.

In this and upcoming issues, we aim to keep you informed about not just the gear and the policy issues, but about the culture—the people, the places, the stories of riding bikes in Northeast Ohio. So have at it. Send us your news. We'll send you ours.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 5:48 PM, 03.01.2012