Cincinnati Off Road Alliance, or CORA, is a group of local volunteers dedicated to building, preserving, and advocating for more miles of sustainable, multi-use, natural surface trails. I met with members Michelle Knight and Jason Reser of Reser Bicycle Outfitters—his bicycle shop in Newport.
The three of us sit around a long, high-top table, surrounded by bikes, followed by committee members bringing excited chatter with them as they enter the shop for the night’s meeting. Their early arrival is a testament to their dedication to CORA’s mission.
“People want to give, and not just take,” says Michelle. “There’s no 1-800 number to call, so if there’s a tree down, we move it.” CORA has maintained at least 100 miles of trails throughout the region for mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers alike. One such mountain bike trail is in Devou Park.
CORA began in 1996 in the hopes of connecting the communities of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky through trail riding. What began as an intimate group racing on a few small trails is now a passionate team working and riding on pathways in over a dozen local parks. They ride as a community, for the community, and as individuals enjoying a slew of health benefits such as cardiovascular health and flexibility.
“I’ve seen people go from 400 pounds to 200—just from bike riding,” says Jason. “Even when they kept their diet the same.”
Trail riding also improves balance and increases bone density with a low-impact ride alternative to concrete, all while clearing the mind in some of the most beautiful, natural, and sometimes unexpected, views. That clearing of the mind is key; as Michael L. Swank, M.D. of OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine says, "use your legs to keep from losing your mind.”
“On one trail, riders regularly report a banjo-playing local,” Jason adds. Health benefits and beautiful scenery aside—what’s a good bike ride without a folksy serenade, honestly?
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