Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pearl Izumi Employee Pick: Abigale the Receptionist

The employees of Pearl Izumi are sharing their favorite products.

Receptionist Abigale says, "I have an incessant need to challenge myself. A few years ago I decided to try biking and signed up for a ride from Baltimore to San Francisco."

"Somewhere in the middle I fell in love with Colorado and made it my home. The long grueling climbs, the fierce afternoon showers, the beautiful sunsets...I can't get enough! With the ability to gain thousands of feet of elevation in just a few miles, my ride may start off sunny and end in a snowstorm."

"Now, when I plan my road rides, I always pack for whatever Mother Nature throws my way."

Her favorite items are the Women's Elite Escape Sleeveless Jersey, Women's Select Escape Shorts, Women's Elite Barrier Convertible Jacket, and Women's Select Gloves. And we have all of them in stock at all three Century Cycles stores!

Check out our full selection of Pearl Izumi clothing for men and women at: www.centurycycles.com/get/pearlizumi




Friday, June 17, 2016

Carry your bicycles and gear safely with Thule car racks and cargo boxes

The summer vacation season is upon us. Whether you're just heading to your local park, or a day-long drive to your getaway destination, you want to arrive safely with your bicycles intact. For families, space inside the vehicle can be precious, so you want to look for ways to carry more gear.

Century Cycles carries a full line of Thule bicycle racks for cars, SUVs, and trucks in all three of our stores (Medina, Peninsula, and Rocky River). Thule (pronounce it "TOO-lee") is a company based in Sweden, but all of their bike racks sold in the USA are also made right here in the USA, in one of their factories located in Connecticut or Colorado.

You can purchase your bicycle rack worry-free from Century Cycles, because we'll do the research to make sure we pick the right rack the fits your vehicle, we'll assemble it free of charge, and also install it free of charge--all while showing you how to properly install and use it so you can be sure it's safe every time.

Trunk Racks

A "trunk rack" is a bicycle carrier that straps to the rear of your vehicle. Most models will work with most cars, SUVs, vans, and some pickup trucks. The entry-level Thule Passage 910XT holds one or two bicycles for only $149.99. A three-bike version (Thule Passage 911XT) is available for $169.99.
Thule Passage 910XT trunk rack
The Thule Raceway Pro trunk rack (available in 2-bike or 3-bike versions, 9001PRO $339.99 or 9002PRO $369.99) give you better ease of use and security, with a built-in cable lock and locking steel attachment straps.
Thule Raceway Pro trunk rack
Got a spare tire on the back of your vehicle? Thule has an answer for that, too! The Thule Spare Me Pro 963PRO ($229.99) holds up to three bikes, and locks securely to your spare tire (if there's a cover over your spare tire, you'll have to remove it).
Thule Spare Me Pro bicycle rack
Hitch Racks

A hitch-mounted bicycle rack attaches to a towing receiver hitch on the rear of your vehicle. If you don't have a receiver hitch, check at your local camper center or towing supply shop, and they can usually install them on most vehicles for a reasonable price. Hitch receivers come in a width of either 1.25 inches or 2 inches. Some hitch racks work with both sizes, but some are made for a specific size hitch. Most hitch racks have a feature that allows the rack to tilt down so you can access your trunk.

The Thule Vertex is an economical hitch rack available in three versions; all include a built-in hide-away cable lock:

Thule Vertex hitch rack

Step up to the Thule Helium Aero series, and you get a rack with aluminum construction that's nearly half the weight of comparable racks. You also get the Auto-Attach hitch that slides into your 1.25" or 2" receiver and locks in place without any tools.
Thule Helium Aero hitch rack
The Thule Doubletrack 990XT ($329.99) holds two bikes, and features a lower-to-the-ground design that's much easier to load, and works much better with cruiser bikes, ladie's bikes, and other bicycles with non-standard frames. It includes all of the locks and keys needed to secure the rack to your vehicle and the bikes to the rack. Works with both 1.25" and 2" hitches.
The Thule T2 Pro is a top-of-the-line hitch rack for cyclists who want the ultimate in security and ease of use. Out of the box, it holds any bike with wheels sizes from 20 inches up 29 inches, including fat bikes with tires up to 5 inches wide! Also features the Auto-Attach system for quick tool-free installation and removal.
Thule T2 Pro hitch rack
Cargo Boxes

Cargo boxes provide extra storage space on top of your vehicle to carry luggage, skis, or snowboards. They come in a variety of sizes to fit your needs!

The Thule Force offers value and space with key conveniences, including tool-free Quick-Grip mounting system that works on Thule roof rack systems with square or aerodynamic load bars, round load bars, and most factory load bars. They can be opened and loaded from both the left or right sides. Currently in stock (Medina or Rocky River only; call us to verify availability):
  • Thule Force M 624 $469.99 - 13 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
  • Thule Force XL 625 $529.99 - 17 cubic feet of cargo capacity, 6 to 8 pair of skis or 4 to 6 snowboards (max 198cm in length)
  • Thule Force XXL 626 $599.99 - 21 cubic feet of cargo capacity, 10 to 12 pair of skis or 6 to 8 snowboards (max 220cm in length)
Thule Force XXL roof-top cargo box

The Thule Sonic features tool-free AcuTight mounting that works on Thule roof rack systems with square or aerodynamic load bars, round load bars, and most factory load bars. They can be opened and loaded from both the left or right sides. Currently in stock (Medina or Rocky River only; call us to verify availability):
Thule Sonic roof-top cargo box

Roof Rack Systems

If your vehicle does not have factory load bars on the roof, we can outfit you with a Thule roof rack system. In most cases, parts for a roof rack system are special-order, so plan ahead. An installation charge of $60 per hour will apply; most installations take 1 to 2 hours.

Once you have a roof rack system, in addition to cargo boxes, you can use roof-mounted bike carriers. Some require removal of your front wheel, some do not. Stop in and talk to us about the various options!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

DC to Pgh Bike Tour Day 6 - Ohiopyle to Pittsburgh, PA

We tried to get an even earlier start than usual on our last day, hitting the Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe for breakfast soon after they opened around 6:15am, then we hit the trail a little after 8:00am.




Ohiopyle Falls



A couple miles outside of town, we came across a group of four riders from Massachusetts using a do-it-yourself repair station.

The trail is relatively flat here in the northern section. We made good time to Connellsville.


The next major stop was West Newton for lunch at The Trailside Restaurant & Pub.


Mike, Ted, and Troy skipped our lunch stop and make a quick push to get to Pittsburgh and on the way home. Bill, Jim, Peter, Tom, and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch then got on our way.

A few miles short of the village of Boston, or "Little Boston" as it's known, we passed an older gentleman pushing his bike along. We asked if he were okay; he said yes, I just have a flat tire. We asked if he had what he needed to fix it, and he said no, so Jim said, "Well, you're not okay then!" We stopped and lent him a spare tube, and replaced it for him. He was very grateful and wanted to pay us back in some way, but we told him to pay it forward. We told ourselves that we just paid for the perfect weather that we enjoyed the whole trip.

I was most anxious to see the newer parts of the trail going into Pittsburgh. I used to ride the parts between Connellsville and Confluence on a regular basis, and the final stretches leading into the city were not completed until recent years after I had moved away from Pittsburgh.

From Boston to McKeesport, there are some new stretches built that take you away from the Yough river and up into the hills a bit, in order to go around some industrial sites, some abandoned and some still in use. Through McKeesport, you follow a couple of low-traffic back streets and new paved trails behind the downtown area and then past some more industrial and post-industrial sites.


GAP Trail bridge over the Monongahela River near McKeesport, PA
The trail crosses an old railroad bridge over the Monongahela River, then does some more gently rolling pavement up on the ridge away from the river, including just behind the Kennywood Park amusement park.


The trail winds its way through some new retail and residential developments on both paved and unpaved surfaces, past the Sandcastle water park, and to the South Side. You make a right over the Hot Metal Bridge to cross back over the Mon river, but before that, we took a couple-blocks detour to grab a final celebratory beer at Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe.


View of downtown Pittsburgh from the Hot Metal Bridge
A couple of short miles on paved trail took the five of us back to the First Avenue Garage and our finish line.
Peter, Jim, Bill, and Tom at the finish
I was the only one interested in going to Point State Park for the final finish photo op, so we said our goodbyes, and I headed off down the street and "pedaled to The Point," the ceremonial end of the Great Allegheny Passage, and the place where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River.

I cannot gush enough about the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage Trails. They are a perfect example of the "if you build it, they will come" scenario. Not just one city, but three states, the District of Columbia, dozens of cities and towns, trail advocacy and fund-raising groups, and thousands of dedicated volunteers have come together to create a destination that is attracting visitors from literally around the world.

I visited many of the towns along this route many years ago, and was flabbergasted by the changes the trail has brought them since. What were once one-horse towns with maybe a convenience store have blown up into full-service trail towns, with new hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, and bike shops.

The route is easy to ride, and easy to follow, well-marked with helpful signage every step of the way. If you're looking to check an item off of your "bike-it" list, hit the C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage Trails as soon as you can! Go to www.nps.gov/choh and gaptrail.org for help in planning your visit (or stop in and talk to the experienced veterans at Century Cycles!)

Monday, June 13, 2016

DC to Pgh Bike Tour Day 5 - Cumberland, MD to Ohiopyle, PA

Breakfast (any item from the menu) is included in your room at the Ramada Inn of Cumberland, Maryland, so after a filling meal, we packed up our bikes and headed back for the short ride down through town to the trail.

Of the many popular photo ops in the area, one is the sculpture of the mule driver, which commemorates the working days of the C&O Canal, and it's located at the end point (officially mile 184.6) of the C&O Canal Towpath Trail.

Right at the point where the C&O Canal Towpath Trail ends and the Great Allegheny Passage begins lies a plaque in the ground for mile marker 0 of the Great Allegheny Passage.

The trail starts on pavement heading out of Cumberland, clearly marked. This begins the long 24-mile climb over an average grade of 2%. Trail signage is consistent all along the Great Allegheny Passage, with mileage to adjacent towns in both directions, and helpful hints to local amenities off-trail.

The trail runs alongside an active rail line (rail-with-trail) for about 12 miles. You go through a couple of short tunnels along the way, first the Brush Tunnel:
Then the Borden Tunnel:

The next major city after Cumberland is Frostburg, Maryland about 16 miles out, but the climbing isn't over yet. You cross the Mason-Dixon Line, which separates Maryland from Pennsylvania:
There are spectacular views across the mountain ridges of local wind farms.


Finally you reach the longest tunnel on the whole C&O/GAP trail, the Big Savage Tunnel, at over 3,300 feet long.
The Big Savag Tunnel is CLOSED during the off-season (usually early December through early April), so check local conditions before planning a trip. There is no easy route around the tunnel.

From there, it's a short two miles before your 1,800-foot climb is over and reach the highest point of the GAP, the Eastern Continental Divide. Like every other day, we saw many bike tourists all day, but we only saw one other group tackling the climb to the Divide in the steeper direction as we were. Ironically, they were a family of Mennonites (four men and three women), dressed in their traditional clothing, no helmets but big straw hats, and their bikes loaded to the hilt with all of their worldly possessions. They were moving from Virginia to Oklahoma (why they were taking a detour north via the GAP, we don't know), and "saving as many souls as possible" along the way.



Bill and Ted (doing their own excellent adventure) hired a shuttle driver to take them from Cumberland to Frostburg, and so had only an 8-mile climb to reach the Divide, and were waiting when I arrived there. Jim and Tom arrived soon after me, and we waited a while for Mike, Peter, and Troy to arrive to get a photo of the whole group.
Tom, Jim, Bill, Mike, Peter, Ted, Kevin, Troy
Among the many other people passing through this spot were a father-and-daughter pair who flew all the way from Twin Falls, Idaho just to ride these trails.

This climb is the reason that a majority of bike travelers do the route from Pittsburgh to DC instead of the DC to Pittsburgh as we are. But it really wasn't all that bad. I was able to keep up an average of over 12mph for the whole climb. A few kept a little over 10mph, and the slowest of our group kept over 8mph. So even if you're not the most fit person, you can drop your bike in a low gear and spin on up.

From here to Ohiopyle, it's a fairly flat and easy ride, with more scenic bridges and overlooks.
Keystone Viaduct
Passing some southbound riders on the Keystone Viaduct
Salisbury Viaduct (visible from Amtrak a few days earlier)


We stopped for lunch in Rockwood, intending to go to the Rock City Cafe based on the recommendation of a rider we passed at the Divide. Turns out they are closed on Mondays, so we went back to the Rockwood Mill Shoppes, where we found a delicious array of sandwiches and pizza.

The most recent tunnel to be restored and re-opened for bike traffic is the Pinkerton Tunnel between Markleton and Fort Hill, which just opened in September of 2015. Previously, there was a 1.5-mile loop around it called the "Pinkerton Horn." The latest maps will still show this 1.5-mile loop, until they are updated with the new route through this tunnel.

Taking a rest break in Confluence

The GAP Trail follows the Cassellman River from Meyerdale to Confluence, where it meets the Youghiogheny River.

The GAP Trail does not have the water pumps every few miles like the C&O Canal Towpath Trail does, so there are not as many opportunities for free water refills, but there are more frequent towns along the way with places to purchase water and snacks.

From Confluence, it was an 11-mile jaunt to Ohiopyle, where we checked into the Yough Plaza Motel then headed to the Falls City Pub for dinner.
Kevin at the Yough Plaza Motel