Rail Rollers

Rail Rollers is a new cycling club in Ashland. 

Ashland residents Frank Pettigrew and Russ Matz plan to launch a new bicycling club that will give members the opportunity to explore the area’s rail trails, as well as the chance to give back.

“It’s a bike riding club with service in mind,” Matz, 70, said.

The club, known as Rail Rollers, is based on the Old Spokes riding club in Shelby, Pettigrew, 69, said.

“Russ and I wanted to emulate the Old Spokes and get a club going in Ashland with eventually using it as a Christian outreach in repairing and giving away bikes to needy families,” Pettigrew said.

The club plans to hold group rides on all the rail trails (disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths) in the northern and central parts of the state.

“I currently enjoy riding the rails-to-trails throughout Ohio — thus our name — including the old B&O line in Mansfield to Bellville to Butler,” Pettigrew said. “I have traveled most of all the trails in the northern part of the state. I also enjoy riding the country roads in Ashland and Richland County; there are some great scenic rides in our area.”

Pettigrew, who tries to cycle three days a week, said he’s been cycling most of his adult life. His rides have taken him all over, including Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Indiana, Illinois and throughout Ohio. He’s even been caught in a desert in Oregon and a tornado in Indiana. 

Matz said he rode a lot as a kid and that in the last two years he’s gone on group rides along about eight rail trails within an hour of Ashland.

“I kind of knew that (rail trails) were there, but really didn’t think about it that much until I experienced one and I said, ‘Oh wow, I want more,’” he said with a laugh.

Rail Rollers is geared toward older adults, but Pettigrew added, “Anyone who who enjoys riding the rails-to-trails can ride with us.”

The group had planned to get rolling this year but faced a setback when Matz sustained an injury, preventing him from being able to ride this summer.

Matz said the club will likely launch next spring.

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“In the meantime we can put a lot of pieces together throughout the winter,” he said.

Matz and Pettigrew welcome input and ideas -- feel free to send feedback to fpettigrew27@gmail.com

“I think it’s going to be a worthwhile and fun thing to do,” Matz said.

Already, the club has found support from Ashland Bike Company.

“We decided to sponsor it and make it one of our clubs at the shop,” said owner Anthony Bunt. “Basically it’s one of several different ways that we have for people to connect with other cyclists that have the same interest.”

Since opening in 2017, Ashland Bike Company has aimed to serve as a hub for local cyclists to convene and connect with other riders, Bunt said.


Thrive Reporter

Thrive reporter. Graduate of Ontario High School and Ohio State Mansfield. Wife. Mom. Dog lover. Fitness enthusiast. Plant collector. Mac and cheese consumer.