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Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State
Today I did a long ride up to Rocky River. I’ve done three or four long-ish rides this year where I started out thinking that I might get my first century in for the year, but the failure to set a specific destination always left me with too-easy bailout options. Plus, my lackluster amount of commuting and riding in general this year left me feeling wiped out at around 60-something miles, and I end up limping the last 20-something miles to get home.
So today, by setting a goal of getting to Rocky River, even though it’s still not a century, I committed myself to a specific destination and distance.
I made my way from home over to the Brecksville Reservation, and hopped on the Valley Parkway. The Valley Parkway is traditionally “ground zero” for cyclist vs. motorist conflicts in this area. It makes of the western half of what is know as the “Emerald Necklace,” the chain of parks in the Cleveland Metroparks system. It provides a good mix of flat and rolling terrain, but since it also connects some of the major outer-ring suburbs of Cleveland, it’s also a popular car commuter route.
It had been a couple of years since I rode the Valley Parkway, so on the outbound leg of the trip, I was enjoy the once-again-fresh scenery, despite the long and sometimes steep climb from Brecksville to Ridge Road. Near the Big Met golf course, I took the detour to the left off of the Valley Parkway, up the steep climb to Wooster Road, through Fairview Park, and finally to Rocky River. All the while, I had not one close brush by a passing car, nor any honks, gestures, or yells out of open windows.
After hanging around a while to have a snack, I ended up getting started again later than I had anticipated, and found myself on the Valley Parkway during rush hour. Surely, I thought, this would increase the frustration level for everyone around me, but I made the return trip without incident. Maybe the local drivers have finally come to accept that they are going to encounter recreational users in a recreational area. Or, maybe I was just lucky to catch everyone in a good mood that day.
The best thing, though, was that I felt like I was riding good and strong the whole time, and never really ran out of gas until the last few miles out of the total 82. It was one of those rides that makes me re-discover why I enjoy cycling.