Car Less Ohio

Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State

2021’s Redeeming Ride

Through most of the winter, I’m usually one of those rah-rah, fat-biking, “there’s no bad weather, just bad gear” type of people. There comes a point during some winters, though, where I finally give in and say “enough is enough.” I’m tiring of always being cold, I’m tired of having to treat every bike ride like an expedition, I’m just plain tired. Rides start to feel forced, where I’m not riding for the fun of riding, but just riding to “get some miles in,” “keep my fitness up,” or whatever.

I ride the indoor training occasionally, but during times when I’m motivated enough to do that, I’m motivated enough to bundle up and get outside. When I reach the giving up point like lately, I almost revert to a total couch-surfer. Sometimes these periods of riding funk occur briefly even during the warm-weather season, when bike rides start to feel repetitive and routine.

Fortunately, though, a day comes along that unexpectedly brings the spark back in my pedals. That day was yesterday. I met my friend Brent at his bike shop with my Salsa Fargo. It was still a fairly cold day; I was bundled up enough to be comfortable, but it wasn’t so bad as to have to be bundled up like Randy from A Christmas Story.

We rode out of Hudson over to the Bike & Hike Trail, in the direction towards the village of Silver Lake. A side street there led us over to Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls, through the downtown area, and onto what’s known as the “Route 8 Gravel.” This is a north-south stretch of service road between State Route 8 and a set of railroad tracks, a common destination for local adventure riders, but I had never been there.

We were worried the gravel road might be too muddy. It was mostly dry packed dirt, but there were some large puddles of water all the way across that we had to ride through. So, the dry dirt stuck to our wet tires. So although technically it wasn’t “muddy,” the end result was mud. It wasn’t so bad as to gum up our tires in the bike frames, though, and it was some fun exploration.

On the Route 8 Gravel Road
At the end of the Route 8 Gravel Road near Eastwood Road in Akron

The gravel road ends near the Akron end of the Freedom Trail. We got on the trail and headed the other way to Kent, stopped at a Sheetz for a couple of take-out personal pizzas, snacks, drinks. We got on the Portage Hike & Bike Trail just across the street. A short pedal out and into the woods is the old “Moon Tower,” an abandoned railroad water tower, where we hung out to enjoy our lunch.

The Moon Tower

A bit further on the bike trail, through housing development, cemetery, school, then a short road jaunt leads back to the Bike & Hike Trail and back to Hudson, which brought me to a little over 36 miles for the day. Not an epic death march, but exactly the kind of casual, fun, exploration ride I needed to recharge my batteries, refresh my soul, and rekindle my love of biking and help me look forward to warmer (and maybe even not so warm) rides to come.

We are bound to get that last “surprise” snowfall of the season. It may come in mid- or late March; it can even come on Easter Sunda. It’s winter’s cover of “Don’t You Forget About Me.” But that’s okay. I’ll be ready for it and for whatever comes after it.

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