Car Less Ohio

Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State

Category Archives: Events

Report and photos from today’s Cleveland Camp Coffee

It ended up being a solo outing for me. The weather felt more pleasant than the mid-40’s temperature and the gray sky would suggest. At least coffee outside alone is better than coffee inside, accompanied by the soothing hum of traffic on State Route 8.

Cleveland Camp Coffee

20150617-clecampcoffee-3-loInspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), the movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures continues!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea and hot chocolate drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Friday, April 29, 2016, 8:30am
Where: The Split on the Summit Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail, near State Route 8, just south of State Route 303

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Photos from Cleveland Camp Coffee #3

Two of our past regulars could not make it today, but we had three new faces. Maybe this thing is taking off after all? Stay tuned for next month!

Cleveland Camp Coffee #3

20150513-clecampcoffee-2Inspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), the movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures continues!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea and hot chocolate drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 8:00am
Where: The Beach on the Cuyahoga River

To get to “The Beach on the Cuyahoga River,” start at the Harvard Avenue trailhead of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, go south about 1.3 miles, then turn right onto the Six Mile Flats Loop Trail. Go across the bridge, the bushwhack over to the sandy shore of the river.

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Cleveland Camp Coffee #2

20150415-clecampcoffee-2Inspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), the movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures continues!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 8:00am
Where: The Towpath Trail boardwalk along the Beaver Marsh in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Meet around 7:30am at Century Cycles in Peninsula if you want to join a short ride down. A couple of us may continue south on the Towpath Trail for a longer day ride.

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Trip Report: Cleveland Camp Coffee #1

Other than a little miscommunication about out group’s start time to ride into town, the first Cleveland Camp Coffee was a success, with three participants. If anyone showed up at 7:00am, we’re sorry we missed you; we got there a little after 8:00am. Stay tuned for details about the next gathering!

Come to Cleveland Camp Coffee #1

larivercoffee03

Inspired by #LARiverCampCoffee (http://bit.ly/1NUfQlY), let’s start a movement for mini-adventures in Cleveland for when we don’t have time for real adventures!

#CLECampCoffee is a casual gathering for lovers of bicycles, camping, and coffee.

Arrive by bike, and use your camp-cooking gear to make coffee for yourself and to share, and enjoy conversation with your fellow campers.

The rules aren’t strictly enforced, so you can come by foot or car if you like, and you can stop for coffee at a (preferably local) shop on the way. Tea drinkers are welcome, too!

When: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 7:00-8:00am
Where: The Scranton Spoon

The Scranton Spoon is the nickname given to the observation deck/dock that extends over the Cuyahoga River from the new section of the Towpath Trail in the Scranton Flats. If you’re coming from the south, follow the Towpath through Steelyard Commons, then go up W. 14th Street almost to the end, turn left onto Fairfield Avenue, then turn right onto Scranton.

Check for updates on the Event page on Facebook.

Legends of the Beer Ride

Whether you’re in an urban, suburban, or rural area, every group of cyclists has their own set of traditions for the “Beer Ride.” But for the uninitiated, I provide for you here a step-by-step guide to planning your own Beer Ride.

Step 1. Select a date. Under ideal circumstances, the Beer Ride is spontaneous, i.e. “Hey, let’s do a Beer Ride tomorrow night.” But, this is the real world, and folks need time to get permission from their significant others and/or employers, so a week or two advance notice works best.The beer ride is often a recurring event on or near a national holiday, as in the case of my group’s original Beer Ride, as well as this latest one, Cinco de Mayo.

Step 2. Publicize your Beer Ride on Facebook or some other accessible place on the Interwebz. “But,” you’re asking, “Won’t that mean there will be a bunch of whackos showing up for my ride?” Well, yes, but that’s the whole idea–making new friends and having a good time. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a good idea of who to leave off the guest list for the next Beer Ride. Plus, when some wet blanket hassles you afterwards about not getting an invitation, you can tell them, “It was a public event. You didn’t need an invitation.”

You’ll have a core group of “founders” who started your Beer Ride tradition, and a handful of others who rotate in and out on an ongoing basis. For each ride, one of the founders will have a lame excuse for backing out at the last minute.

Step 3. Choose your bike. Any bike will do, although if you’re the type of person whose bike collection is up in the double digits, you’ll have a bike dedicated just for Beer Rides. A Surly makes a nice choice, as it did for over half the people on this ride.

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Step 4. Choose a starting location for pre-ride beers. A local bar, your local beer-friendly bike shop, or someone’s house makes a good choice. In our case, it was the house of the guy who backed out of this ride. If there’s anything better than raiding somebody else’s beer fridge, it’s raiding somebody else’s beer fridge when they’re not home. The pre-ride beers might get so out of hand as to force everyone to forego the actual ride.

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Step 5. Take photos to share the debauchery during the ride. The photos will get progressively more blurry as the night goes on, either because of the pre-ride beers, or the increasingly dark conditions in which cell-phone cameras don’t work so hot.

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Step 6. Choose a destination. You can vote as a group, either ahead of time or the night-of, or as a founder, exercise your authority to choose when you organize the event. A place with food and a good selection of beer is a good choice, such as Mr. Zub’s Deli in the Highland Square neighborhood in Akron.

An off-road route, like the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, is nice, but not necessary. A few on-road connections are unavoidable, including a hill or two like Merriman Road or Portage Path to separate the women from the girls.

Lock your bikes up, especially if you’re riding to a place like Akron. Not everyone will remember a lock, but as long as you have about one lock for every three bikes, you should be in good shape. Sitting by the front windows where you have a good view of the bikes helps as well.

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Step 7. Enjoy your meal, mid-ride beers, and the ride back. You may want to add more bars to the route–this is where group cohesion usually breaks down, as ride fatigue and beer fatigue catches up with some riders and not others.

Fellow bar-hoppers will notice your group on bikes and make some comment like, “Hey great idea; don’t have to worry about getting a DUI.” While technically, you CAN get a DUI while riding a bicycle, in our experience, The Law will leave you alone as long as you’re not acting like a jerk.

Inevitably, one rider will somehow get lost on the way back and end up at the corner of Steels Corners and Hudson Roads, nowhere near the actual return route.

Catching up on 2013

With this past winter being more harsh compared to the mild winter of ’12, and my diminished motivation for bundling up and riding in bad weather this year, I haven’t had much to report on since my last post after the Iceman race last November. So, here’s a quick re-cap of the riding (or lack thereof) that I’ve done this season.

On a snowy Dec. 30, I met up with my friends Dave and Pam for a snowy ride on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Dave rode his Carver Ti O’Beast snow bike, Pam rode his Surly Pugsley, and I rode my Raleigh XXIX singlespeed. We started at the Canal Visitor Center and rode south for about 45 minutes (probably just a handful of miles) and turned around.

Snow bike riding on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

A couple of days later, for a New Year’s Day ride, I met Dave and Brent in Peninsula for another snowy Towpath ride. I rode Dave’s Pugsley and Brent rode his Salsa Mukluk. We rode up to Brecksville Station and back.

Under the State Route 82 bridge on the Towpath Trail near Brecksville

A couple of days later, I met Brent and Sean for a night ride at the Royalview Trail in the Cleveland Metroparks Mill Stream Run Reservation near Strongsville. Didn’t get any photos; the trail had been ridden by others on fat bikes already, but it was still tough going on my XXIX, and hard to follow the trail even with our headlights. We ended up off-trail a few times, as well as on some of the hiking trails. We finished up by racing up and down the road on Royalview Lane. It was fun, but the exertion in the sub-freezing air took its toll on me, and I caught a nasty head cold that put me out of commission for over a week.

I got back into the swing of things on Jan. 12 with a few laps around my “neighborhood loop,” a 5-mile loop consisting of the Twinsburg Center Valley Park multi-purpose trail, the Old Hickory Trail, and a few of the streets that connect the two. The next day, I rode to and from work for my first and only time so far this year.

On Jan. 16, it was still pretty cold, but the roads dried off, so I took the Xtracycle out for a day of exploring to Peninsula and back, using the Metroparks, Serving Summit County Bike and Hike Trail.

Overlooking the Ohio Turnpike on the Bike and Hike Trail

More snowfall came later in January, and I got two days of cross-country skiing in. The first was at the Horseshoe Pond are in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The second was on Feb. 1 at Punderson State Park.

Cross-country skiing at Punderson State Park

On Feb. 2 I borrowed Dave’s Surly Pugsley again, and we met our new friend Jack (on his new 9:ZERO:7 fat bike) for a ride on the Bike and Hike Trail. We started at the Alexander Road trailhead and rode down to Brandywine Falls and back.

A stop at Brandywine Falls while snow biking on the Bike and Hike Trail

I met Dave again the next day for another snow bike ride (on his Pugsley) on the Towpath Trail, from Peninsula down to the Botzum Trailhead and back.

The Botzum Trailhead, on a snow bike ride on the Towpath Trail

I did a few laps on the Neighborhood Loop on Feb. 16. Finally, in early March, we had a brief period of spring-like weather. I had just finished putting together my new Surly Cross-Check, so on Mar. 10 I took it for a shakedown ride on the Twinsburg-Garrettsville Loop.

On Winchell Road between Hiram and Aurora, Ohio

More snow, rain, and cold followed. On Mar. 21, the first day of Spring, the temperatures still hovered around freezing, but I decided to grab the Salsa Fargo and head out to the singletrack at Mohican State Park. I just did the first eight miles out and back (with the shortcut at the 4-mile point on the way back). The upside was that the frozen trail made it nice and solid and ride-able. The exception was the final mile along the ridge above the campground, which gets the most sun of any part of the trail, so it was wet and sloppy.

Mountain biking at Mohican State Park

On April 3, I took the Xtracycle for another cruise to Peninsula, just as a warm-up for the race on April 6, the inaugural Amish Country Roubaix. This was a gravel road race, or “gravel grinder,” as these increasingly popular events have come to be known. I was way too out of shape to be competitive in such an event, with over 4,000 feet of climbing in 45 miles over the back roads of Holmes County. It turned out to be a nice day, though. I finished in about 3 hours and 40 minutes, it was a fun ride, and a well-run event that I’ll probably return for next year.

The Salsa Fargo in gravel grinder mode

The next morning, I felt surprisingly fresh during a ride of the Valley Loop with a group from Peninsula.  More rain came during the week, but I managed to get a somewhat wet ride in on April 11 with a short 24-mile loop on the Salsa Fargo through Aurora, Bainbridge, Chagrin Falls, and Solon. Here I am on Geauga Lake Road over the swelling banks of the Chagrin River:

The Chagrin River in Geauga County, Ohio

Spring weather finally broke last weekend, and I did a 31-mile Sunny Lake Loop on April 14, and then 40 miles yesterday with an extended loop taking in the Bike and Hike Trail, Peninsula, and Hudson (both on the Surly Cross-Check). The winds were pretty stiff yesterday, but with temperatures in the upper 70’s, it looks like Spring is finally here, with more great riding to come!

Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, Ohio

Iceman!

The fall cycling season is typically capped off with my traditional trip up to Northern Michigan for the Iceman Cometh Challenge mountain bike race. Brent and I headed out early Friday morning for what was to be a re-run of the first day of our Michigan trip back in August–drive to Fort Custer Recreation Area outside of Battle Creek to ride the buff singletrack there, head over the Kalamazoo for lunch at Bell’s Brewery, head up to Grand Rapids for a quick refreshment at Founder’s Brewing, then continue north to join the main festivities.

I decided to ride on my Salsa Fargo this year. I’ve given it a good workout on lots of singletrack the past two seasons, but this was its first race experience.

We woke up to some rain and wet snow in Traverse City on Saturday morning, but when we drove to the start in Kalkaska, it remained somewhat cold but sunny and dry. Brent took off in Wave 12 at 9:33am, and I followed soon after at 9:36am.

After a tough race here in 2010, I felt I had to redeem myself and turn in a good performance in 2011. This year, I didn’t feel I had anything to prove. I just wanted to have a good ride and a good time and race my own race. I felt I prepared well for the day’s conditions, with my SmartWool Cuff Beanie under my helmet, DeFeet DuraWool liner gloves under regular short-finder cycling gloves, SmartWool liner shirt, long-sleeve Century Cycles wool jersey, Ibex wool bib knickers, my new Surly Chainsaw tall wool socks, and Lake MX-100 cycling boots. I had on my Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket for the start, but I ended up pulling over about 5 miles into the race and stuffing it into my jersey pocket. I was completely comfortable for the rest of the race.

The Fargo performed well on the course. The rigid fork didn’t feel like it beat me up as much as my rigid setup did back in 2010, and being able to ride in the drops to power through the dirt and gravel road sections was a huge benefit. As I’ve mentioned before, the bike climbs like a billy goat; among the many  short, steep climbs on the course, I only had to dismount on one of them, and that was due to a flubbed shift.

About halfway through the race as we approached Traverse City, we got into the snow zone, which made some of the course a little more soft and squishy than usual, but the firm Michigan mud was nothing compared to the sloppy Ohio mud.

I did the usual leap-frogging against the same handful of recognizable riders throughout the race.

The course ended up as the longest ever, about 30.5 miles, so times were a little longer than usual. I ended up at 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 7 seconds, about a third of the way down from the leader within my age group, so I was satisfied with that.

On our way home on Sunday, we stopped to ride the Potowatomi Trail at Pinckney State Recreation Area, followed by post-ride dinner at the new Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in nearby Ann Arbor; about as perfect a combination of biking and beer that you’ll find anywhere in the world.

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