Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wonderful dream bicycles


H.G. Wells on learning to ride a bike....
"After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow."
...and what happens later:
"I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botonise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to the right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view -- get hot, juicy, red -- like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, cursing aloud at myself for doing it."
...and how it staves off despair:
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race."
...and beyond:
"Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Join Us at the Handmade Bicycle Show!


The 5th annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show is being held this weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. Taking place mostly on the west coast in previous years, this year's show puts the stunning work of the many custom bicycle frame builders on display here in the Midwest for the first time. Being almost in our backyard, we figured we shouldn't miss it.


If you can't make it to Indianapolis this weekend, you can come with us virtually! I'll be posting updates and pictures to our Twitter profile on Saturday, and by following our updates, it's the next best thing to being there!


Twitter is the newest social networking phenomena sweeping the World Wide Web. You don't have to be a expert member of the "Twitterati," or even have a Twitter account to read our reports. Just view our Twitter profile at: www.twitter.com/CenturyCycles


You can learn more about the show itself at: http://www.handmadebicycleshow.com/

Next stop, the Hoosier State!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trail Building with CAMBA at West Branch this Saturday

If you enjoy mountain biking, here's your chance to do your part to help maintain the trails that we enjoy. The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) is holding one of their trail building sessions this Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:00am at West Branch State Park, near Ravenna.

No experience is necessary; the more helping hands, the merrier! CAMBA provides all the necessary tools, plus a free lunch with vegetarian options. Just bring yourself and dress for the weather. The announcement on their web site has a link to a map, if you need directions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Denver billboards: "Work to bike more"

From AdRants:

Billboard Karma Shines on Pro-Biking Campaign

When Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing Co. was offered a package of urban Denver billboards, pro bono, for a pro-biking ad campaign, it quickly accepted, and assigned its agency, Denver-based Cultivator Advertising & Design to create the outdoor messages. And that's when serendipity stepped in and flooded the billboard placement Gods with good karma. The headline, "Work to Bike More," was inspired by the priorities of several New Belgium employees who may well be more passionate about cycling than about gainful employment. The billboard promotes New Belgium's Team Wonderbike, which encourages both New Belgium employees and the general public to trade in their cars for a bike. The placement above PT Motor's "Cash for Cars" sign, at I-76 and North Federal Blvd., Denver, was...oh yea...serendipitous.



Thanks, Michelle, for the tip for this -- the 500th Century Cycles blog post!

Regrets from Oregon

Hello,

A friend from Ohio sent me a link to your Breaking Away Party with Masi and Century Cycles and I'm just writing to say I'm jealous and can't make it. I'll be stuck in drizzly Portland watching Breaking Away while pedaling on the trainer. I've seen the movie some 250 times and seeing it with a bunch of nutty enthusiasts would be really fun. Have a great time celebrating the movie's anniversary and drinking the Cutters IPA. Oh, and the Masi bikes...wow.

Greg
Portland, OR


Thanks, Greg, and we're sorry, too, that you can't join us! We hope you can stop in for a visit some other time!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Calling all Masi owners!

Do you own a classic Masi you want to show off? We have just the place to do it! The Breaking Away Party with Century Cycles and Masi on March 13 will have a section devoted to classic Masi bikes from northeast Ohio. It will be an ideal showcase for your bike's beauty and glory. (Plus did we mention it's a free party, so you get to gloat about your bike while enjoying free food, drinks, and fun?)

If you're interested, email info@centurycycles.com to confirm the details, then bring your bike to the Rocky River Century Cycles at 19955 Detroit Road (next to Herb's Tavern) by Thursday, March 12.

More photos from this year's staff retreat

As promised, you can check out more photos from our annual staff retreat, which was held last week on February 17-18.

Petch from the Medina store, one of our official photographers, has posted his photos on our brand-spankin' new Facebook page! Check out those photos here (you don't have to have a Facebook account to look at the photos). If you do have a Facebook account, become one of our Fans while you're there!

Here are some more photos that Kevin took, available in the slide show below:

Monday, February 23, 2009

See Ed Begley, Jr. at the HBA Akron Home & Flower Show

Ed Begley Jr., the actor most famous for his role as Dr. Victor Ehrlich on the TV series St. Elsewhere, in more recent years has become known as one of Hollywood’s most visible environmental advocates, with his active promotion of bicycling, recycling, alternative energy, and more.

Mr. Begley will be in Akron to present his talk Live Simply So That Others Can Simply Live at 1:00pm and 5:00pm at the HBA Akron Home & Flower Show on Sunday, February 28, 2009. The show will be held at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.

You can read more about Mr. Begley’s life in the Southern California neighborhood (that he shares with Bill Nye the Science Guy) in this article from the Akron Beacon Journal.

Britney-Free Zone, usually...

We love getting feedback, both good and bad, from our blog readers. John, a reader from Medina recently wrote:

"The CC blog is one of the relief valves in my day. I know it's (usually) not going to be about politics, or the economy, or Britney Spears, but instead something about bikes I can just enjoy."

Thanks, John!

Just to prove that we try to provide something for everyone to enjoy once in a while, here's a gratuitous shot of Britney Spears with a bicycle:


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet the Root Beer Float

One of the first new Masi bicycles sold here at Century Cycles was bought by our own Mike Petcher, Sales Manager at the Medina store. Petch first saw the bike at the Interbike trade show in September of last year, and it was love at first sight. "I have to have that," he said at the time.

The bike is the Masi Speciale CX, which Petch has dubbed the "Root Beer Float." Here's a closer look at it, photos courtesy of Mr. Petcher himself.


Ace mechanic Tom handles the assembly.







Topeak Explorer cargo rack













Compact double crankset.



CatEye Strada Wireless computer






























Petch told us that the first three miles that were registered on that CatEye computer were all ridden while test-riding the bike inside the Medina store! You may ask, "Don't you have a sign up that says riding in the store is not allowed?" You caught us there; chalk it up as a minor benefit of working in a bike shop...
On a related note, here's a bit of shop trivia for you...how many laps around the inside showroom of the Peninsula store does it take to make a mile? Answer: 100 laps.






















Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sportin' Wood!

If you are a fan of the unusual, this is sure to please.

Perusing the Fixed Gear Gallery, I came across this gem. The builder, Alan Downy from Austin, Texas, constructed the frame himself out of 1/8" strips of birch. The end result is very beautiful and unique.



If you want one, you'll have to build it yourself, Alan claims to have no intention of continuing production.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two articles, for your information, for your health

Coming to us via a post on UrbanVelo, an article in the LA Times discussing the risk of bone density loss among cyclists. The effect with mountain bikers is somewhat less, presumably due to the additional action in the upper body required by the bumps and other technical aspects of trail riding. Read the full LA Times article here. Conclusion: even if you're a very fit cyclist, mix up your workouts with some resistance and strength training to keep your bones healthy.

Next, via Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, some statistics from Bikes Belong that support why we need to get more kids on bikes. A couple of eye-opening facts:
  • Adoescents who bike or walk to school watch less TV and are less likely to smoke than their peers who are driven to school. They also get more overall physical activity.
  • Youth who commute to school by motorized transport gain an average of 2-3 pounds per year more than those who actively commute to school.
Find more useful facts at: http://bikesbelong.org/statistics

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lance's bike found!

You read it here first! (Well, I did anyway...)

Raleigh donates a new bike to our own Keith Heffernan

Keith, one of the mechanics in our Medina store, lost most of his possessions (including his bikes) when his house caught fire last month.

Yesterday, at our annual staff retreat, Sean Burkey, our Territory Manager for Raleigh/Diamondback Bicycles, presented a bike to Keith. The bike is a Diamondback Scapegoat, a freeride mountain bike, which is numbered "1" out of a series of only 25 of these limited-edition bikes that were made. Check out the presentation in this video (parental advisory: Keith gets a little explicit in expressing his excitement and gratitude).



Stay tuned for more pictures from our annual staff retreat!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Act today to open bike trails in national parks

The deadline is tomorrow, 2/17, to submit comments about increasing opportunities for mountain biking in national parks. Click here to go to IMBA website, where they made it super-easy to do it all online. It took me about 3 minutes to make my voice heard on this important issue to bicyclists -- and especially for us, since we have a national park in our backyard!!

(Hat tip to CAMBA for the reminder.)

Lance Armstrong's bike stolen

Some punk in California will be living by the slogan "Ride it like you stole it" literally.

Accoring to a story in The Beacon-Journal from The Associated Press, Lance Armstrong's one-of-kind time trial bike, along with three other bikes of his Astana teammates, were stolen from the team trailer in Sacramento following the time trial of the Tour of California bicycle stage race. Read more...

On an unrelated note, I also came across this on the Beacon, a list of rejected vanity license plate requests from the Ohio Department of Transportation, from Jan. 1, 2007 through Jan. 29, 2009. Many are understandable, containing four-letter words or variations thereof. Most are downright cryptic to me--maybe I'm just not up with the current urban slang to know why they are objectionable. A couple of possibly pro-bicycle requests were shut out: CARSSUK and IH8GAS

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Sticky Subject


Q. Sometimes when I'm riding my bike, my nose starts running profusely like I've got a bad cold, even though I'm feeling perfectly healthy. What's going on here, and what can I do about it?

A. Fear not, gentle rider, you are not alone. This is a common condition, and is also experienced by runners, rowers, skaters, skiers, as well as indoor workout enthusiasts. It is a medically recognized phenomenon, and has been dubbed exercise-induced rhinitis. It happens to a majority of active people, whether they are normally prone to allergic reactions or not, and can happen in cold, hot, or mild weather.

Many people carry a pack of tissues with them, and stop to "take care of business" as needed. However, in some riding circles, unnecessary stops ("ridus interruptus") are discouraged. In this crowd, the otherwise crude practice of the "snot rocket" is socially acceptable and encouraged. Especially effective variations on technique are even admired.

If you're unfamiliar with this technique, you may want to practice during a solo training ride. You'll find what works best for you, as far as which way to lean, which hand to use to for which nostril, and whether or not to reverse your technique for the opposite nostril. When riding with a group, protocol dictates that you move to the rear of the pack to avoid an unfortunate incident that might lead to the next frequently-asked-question, "What's the best way to clean mucus from carbon-fiber?"

Even with a refined technique, you'll probably need to wipe away any excess with the back of your glove. This, by the way, is the reason that most cycling gloves are made with a small, soft, fleecy patch on the back of the thumb.

This is also, by the way, why you don't EVER shake hands with somebody that is wearing cycling gloves...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Steel is Real

In our announcements of the launch of the new line of Masi Bicycles, we mentioned how we are especially enamored of their steel-framed models. This prompted a question/comment from one of our loyal blog readers, Mars Girl, who wrote:

"What kind of rides would one use a steel bike on... I mean, I thought the point was carbon-fiber and all that for getting as light as possible. Would having a steel-framed bike make it harder for me to climb up Ira Road?"

Ah yes, young Grasshopper, what kind of rides indeed? The short answer is, any kind of ride.

A heavier bike will make it harder to climb up Ira Road, as well as Everett Road, Oak Hill, etc...but a steel bike it not necessarily heavier in all cases.

First of all, not all steel is created equal. There's cheap steel, there's middle-of-the-road steel, and there's high-end steel (and then there's Hattori Hanzo Steel, but that's another story...).

Plus, while the frame is major factor in the overall weight of a bike, the wheels and other components play a large role. So, it's not too difficult to find a carbon-fiber framed bike with less-than top-of-the-line components that is heavier than a decent steel-framed bike with reasonably-quality components.

In the burgeoning cottage industry of American custom bike frame-building, the overwhelming majority of the work is being done in steel, because it's easier to work with than other materials, and the machinery to do the work with is a lot cheaper and easier to acquire. Some of these custom frames are light, some are not, but either way, there is some high-quality work being done in steel these days, and some of these custom builders have waiting lists for their frames that extend into the next several years.

Getting back to your original question...there are some cases where you don't necessarily want the lightest bike you can possibly find. A super-light racing bike is great if you're riding from your front door and back, or from where you parked your car and back. Or, if you're riding in a fully-supported tour, such as GOBA or Pedal to the Point; any case where all you need to carry is what you can stuff into your jersey pockets.

What if you're riding to work or school every day, and you need to carry your sack lunch, change of clothes, foul weather gear, maybe even your laptop computer? Or maybe you're riding the TransAmerica Route, camping and cooking on your own all the way, so you need to carry that gear, too? In these and similar situations, you want a bike that is durable, as well as designed for carry those loads and continuing to function under less-than-ideal conditions.

You may ask, "Do I need to worry about how durable my frame is if it's covered by the manufacturer's warranty?" Well, yes, because the warranty covers your frame if it breaks due to a manufacturing defect. The warranty does NOT cover it if you crash, back it into a fence, or forget that it's on your roof rack when you pull into the garage. Regardless, a warranty doesn't do you much good when you're screaming DOWN Ira Road, or sitting by the side of the road in the middle of the prairie in Wyoming.

In addition to weight savings, carbon-fiber has characteristics that help it provide comfort; it can absorb small vibrations, and it can be formed to be stiff where needed, and flexible where needed. However, there are many people who feel that nothing compares to the feel of steel when it comes to comfort for long days on the road or trail. If you haven't tried riding a steel bike, I suggest you stop in for a test ride!

In conclusion, the point is not how much your bike weighs, or what it's made of. The point is choosing the right tool for the right job. We can help you with advice on the bike to use for any ride, whether it's around the block or around the world!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Define Your Life...in Thailand!



One of our loyal customers James Quilty sent us this video postcard from outside of Khon Kaen, Thailand. In "Riding Till the Ducks Come Home," the Khon Kaen Mountain Bike team visits a duck ranch; notice one of the riders wearing one of our custom retro-look jerseys (provided to her by James)!

My favorite quote from the story comes as they watch the ducks obediently return at the end of the day: "They are very punctual, so you should be punctual as the ducks."

Thanks, James! You can read more about James Quilty's travels on his NotesFromThailand.net blog.

Cleveland Interclub Social Tonight!

What: Cleveland Interclub Social
Where: Winking Lizard Tavern in Lakewood
When: Friday, February 13, 2009, 7:00-11:00pm
Who: Everyone is welcome!

Free Appetizers, Cash Bar. There's no admission charge this year, but donations to CAMBA will be accepted at the door.

The Cleveland Interclub Social is now in its 4th year, organized by the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA), in conjunction with the Cleveland Triathlon Club, Cleveland West Road Runners, Cleveland Touring Club, Ohio Nordic Ski Club, and others!

Don't have a date for Valentine's Day yet? You might find one here! According to this report from CAMBA, the first reported Interclub Social baby has just been born, to a couple who met at the 1sth Cleveland Interclub Social!

Give her flowers, part 2: A sweet bike for your sweetheart


Valentine's Day is tomorrow, so what are you waiting for? Buy her some daisies!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congratulations to the Silver Wheels Cycling Club!

Congratulations to the Silver Wheels Cycling Club, for winning a 2008 Club of the Year Award from the League of American Bicyclists! The League's Club of the Year program recognizes outstanding clubs for their hard work and dedication and for encouraging cycling and providing a forum for their community to ride.

The Silver Wheels Cycling Club is based mainly in the Lorain County area, but members are welcome from all over the region. They organize many local rides, with their main event the popular Dog Days Wine Tour, as well as trips to ride outside the area. You can find more information at their web site at: www.silverwheelscycling.org

Cleveland to get Downtown Bikestation

The city of Cleveland is planning to build a Bikestation, which would include bike storage, lockers, changing rooms, showers, and bicycle repair facilities. The Bikestation will be located at in currently unused space in a parking garage on East 4th Street, near the Quicken Loans Arena. No timetable for the opening of the facility is available yet, as the project is in the stages of gathering information, cost estimates, and potential funding. More information can be found on the Cleveland City Planning Commission web site.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Latest eNewsletter



The latest edition of the Century Cycles eNewsletter made its way out to subscribers in the wee hours of this morning (those e-mail elves never sleep!). If you didn't get it, click here to read it online!

Our top story today is the official announcement of the Breaking Away with Masi Bicycles and Century Cycles Party! Join us for this fun, FREE event at our Rocky River store at 7:00pm on Friday, March 13, 2009! More details...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TechTalk: What Size Handlebar Do I Need?

For the average cyclist, the handlebar that comes with your bike will suit you for many years of riding pleasure and comfort. The bicycle manufacturers choose a handlebar that is sized appropriately based on the frame size of the bike, and the intended riding conditions for the style of bicycle. However, if you're looking to upgrade your current handlebar, or are building a new bike with custom components, here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when choosing a handlebar.

If you go through the process of getting measured for a custom-fit bicycle, this may result in a recommendation for the "ideal" size handlebar. However, there is no "right" or "wrong" when it comes to handlebar fit; it all comes down to your personal preference for comfort and performance. As with most things when it comes to bike parts, there are trade-offs, i.e. each choice you make has some advantages and disadvantages.

In general, a wider handlebar will feel more stable and secure, because the wider the bar, the more leverage you have in controlling the motion of your front fork and wheel. A narrower handlebar will feel more responsive, because the shorter the handlebar, the less movement is required in your arms and hands to get the same amount of steering action. Keep in mind that these are relative descriptions of the steering characteristics, and different riders will have different preferences based on their riding style. For example, most racers prefer a narrower handlebar, in order to get quick, responsive steering for race-day conditions. However, a more casual rider might call that same narrow handlebar too unstable, or "twitchy."

Another advantage of a wider handler is that by placing your hands and arms further apart, this tends to flex out your chest muscles more, and "open up" your rib cage, resulting in better oxygen flow to your lungs and less fatigue during long, epic rides.

The width of handlebars on traditional drop-bar style road bikes is measured in centimeters. Most men's bikes come with a handlebar that is typically about 42cm wide, or possibly 44cm wide for larger frame sizes. Some women's-specific road bikes will come with a narrower handlebar, say 38cm or 40cm. Most manufacturers use a "center-to-center" measurement, meaning that the width is measured based on the middle point of the handlebar tubing, rather than the outside edge, but this is not the case for all companies, so be sure to verify this when making your selection.

Road drop handlebars are also available with a variety of drop shapes. If you'd prefer not to lean over as much, you can select a handlebar with a more shallow drop. Most drop bars have an ergonomic shape to fit your hands more comfortably in the dropped sections, but many fixed-gear track bikes still come with a more traditional rounded shape in the drops. Also, handlebars with drop sections that flare outward have recently started to become popular among cyclocross racers and long-distance cycle tourists. If you are selecting a bar of this type, be sure to note whether the width measurement is done at the top (non-flared) part of the handlebar, or the bottom (wider, flared) part.

If you are outfitting a road bike to be used for fully-loaded touring or commuting, use a wider handlebar even if you are accustomed to a narrow one for regular road riding. You'll appreciate the extra control and stability once the bike is loaded up with your camping gear, spare clothes, food, laptop computer, etc.
The Raleigh Sojourn touring bike has a wide handlebar with a
31.8mm clamp and flared drops (photo from Dirt Rag Magazine).


Let me relate a bit of personal experience to illustrate how your choice of handlebar width can affect your cycling performance. I didn't pay much attention to handlebar width until a couple of years ago, when I was looking at options to upgrade my road racing bike, which I had bought in 2001. I measured the original bar, and was surprised to find that it was only 40cm, which I thought was pretty narrow for my 56cm bike frame. A 42cm handlebar might have been a more common choice for someone my size, but I decided to go with a 44cm just for kicks. Since then, I have found that the extra stability and control lets me ride much more aggressively, and not slow down as much on the descents and corners, and I end up riding faster overall. So, this is a perfect example of how the performance of your bike can be affected by psychological factors more so than any mechanical factors.

On hybrids and flat-bar road bikes ("fitness" bikes), comfort is usually the overriding concern, so these typically come with very wide handlebars of about 56cm to 70cm.

For mountain biking, you have the same dilemma as with a road bike of balancing the quick handling of a narrow handlebar versus the stability and control of a wide handlebar. For riding in technical, tight, twisty singletrack, you have the additional factor that sometimes there are trees spaced so closely next to the trail that a wide handlebar literally will not fit through! In the earlier years of mountain biking, trends in handlebar width seemed to vary from season to season, like trends in the length of mini-skirts. However, with the recent popularity of downhill, freeriding, all-mountain, and other types of more "extreme" mountain biking, the wider handlebars seem to have established themselves as the preferred choice for most modern mountain bikes. Mountain bikers who still have a preference for narrower bars might use something in the range of 54cm or 55cm. A typical cross-country (XC) rider these days will have something like a 58cm to 60cm bar, while some downhill racers might even have a handlebar as wide as 70cm or 80cm.

Another important measurement in handlebar selection is the clamp size. This refers to the diameter of the tubing in the center of the handlebar where it connects to the bike's stem. Older BMX bikes and some kids' bikes use a 7/8-inch (22.2mm) clamp. One-inch clamp (25.4mm) was the de facto standard for mountain bikes for many years, as was 1-1/8 inches (26.0mm) for road bikes. Over the past couple of years, racers and other cyclists that demand high performance called for something to provide more strength and less flexibility in the handlebar. As a result, many of the latest bikes (both road and mountain) are using an oversized clamp, which measures 1-1/4 inches, but is more commonly known by its "31.8mm" metric equivalent.

If you are selecting both a new handlebar and stem, be sure to choose a stem with a matching clamp size to the handlebar that you want. If you are upgrading your handlebar but want to keep your existing stem, but sure to choose a handlebar that has the same clamp size as your current stem. If you are upgrading to a handlebar and stem with a larger clamp size than your current ones, be aware that you may have issues with the compatibility of any handlebar-mounted accessories that you are using, such as computers, lights, horns, and brake levers.

Staff Profile: Kevin Madzia

Kevin Madzia started at Century Cycles on a whim in the fall of 2004, after a career as a computer programmer trying to weather the ups and downs of the dot-com boom and bust. He had also just completed a bike tour from Seattle to Boston, and he (along with CC colleague Ray Query) just recently completed another long ride from Cleveland to Guatemala City. In the course of both of those trips, he helped to raise almost $25,000 to benefit The Melanoma Research Foundation.

Q. What do you enjoy about working at Century Cycles?

A. A big part of it is being able to help people, both in enjoying cycling to the fullest and staying healthy. I wish I could say that were the main reason, because that would sound very good, but really I just like bicycles a lot, and it's such a blast to be able to be around them all the time, as well as all the cool components and accessories. It's like Christmas almost every day when a new shipment of products arrives!

Q. What is your biggest accomplishment on a bike?

A. I have done lots of fund-raising rides, but (and maybe this sounds a bit grandiose) I feel like I have something to be proud of every time I get on a bike. Especially when I ride to work, I feel like I'm accomplishing so many things at once--a good workout, one less car on the road, and promoting Century Cycles and our products.

Q. What was your first bike?

A. I probably had a tricycle, but don't have any memory of it. My first two-wheeler was brown and had a banana seat and training wheels; I don't remember what brand it was. I taught myself to ride without the training wheels by taking off the right one and leaning to the left for a while, which they now say is the wrong way to learn!

Q. How many bikes do you currently own?

A. I'm embarrassed to say that at the moment I'm not really sure, but it's somewhere around ten. I have one in pieces that I'm working on getting back together. I am the luckiest guy in the world--I won a mountain bike in a raffle three years ago, and I just found out that I have won another one, which I am still waiting to receive. I should start playing the lottery...

Q. Which is your favorite?

A. I can't single any one out; I don't want to hurt their feelings. One of them is cursed, but I won't say which.

Q. Road or dirt?

A. Some of the purists say that I can't sit on the fence forever; I have to call myself either a roadie or a mountain biker. But, I enjoy both equally, and would not want to have to give either one up.

Q. What is your favorite trail or ride?

A. The 25-mile mountain bike loop at Mohican State Park.

Q. Most asked customer question?

A. "Do I need to lube my chain?" Yes! There are lots of different kinds of lube, and lots of philosophies for how to do it. But keep in mind that bringing up the issue of chain lube to a die-hard cyclist is like bringing up religion or politics on a first date. If you ask five different people, you'll get five different answers. Ask some questions, do some basic research, but don't get too bogged down by the details...it's better to do it wrong than not do it at all.

Q. What one piece of advice do you wish you could give to every customer?

A. Wear a helmet, no matter where you're riding. We try to walk a fine line when talking to customers about this, because we want to emphasize how important it is for safety, but not scare them away from riding altogether. So, I'll say it here for the record. I have crashed a few times in my cycling career, while mountain biking, road biking, and yes, even on a little bike path, and if it weren't for wearing a helmet all of those times, I'd probably be laying in bed with tubes coming out of my nose right now. Remember that, just like when you're driving your car, no matter how confident you are in your own abilities, you have to watch out for the people around you, too.

Q. What's the best piece of cycling advice you've been given?

A. "You're not supposed to wear underwear under those shorts."

Q. What three words describe how you feel on a bike?

A. Independent, flying, rebel

Q. What do you do when you're not working at CC?

A. I like to ski and golf, although don't do either as much as I used to, since cycling is less expensive and doesn't take as much planning. I'm also an Internet addict; like many people these days, I've been spending a lot of my spare time on Facebook. I maintain four different personal blogs, plus I just finished a web site for some friends who just opened a winery.

Q. About your recent bike trip to Central America; what was the aspect you thought would be most challenging but turned out wasn't?

A. We had very good luck with our bikes, and had almost no mechanical issues to speak of.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect that you didn't expect to be so hard?

A. Just the tedium of doing the same thing day after day after day. As much as I love cycling, even that can get boring after doing it every day for two months!

Q. What's it like to ride in an approaching hurricane?

A. We had one day of heavy rain for several hours in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. It's like any rain, though. You get completely soaked in the first five minutes, and after that, you can't get any more soaked. Hurricane Ike passed right over us, but we were hunkered down in a hotel, and I slept right through it. The worst part of any rain is peeling off your wet clothes at the end of the day, and putting on your cold, wet shoes the next morning.

Q. What advice would you give to people hoping to embark on 1,000+ mile bicycle adventures?

A. Use thorn-resistant inner tubes--I didn't have a single flat tire with them. Get good bike shorts. You may not notice the difference on several short rides, or even one long ride, but several days of long rides in a row, and they will make ALL the difference. Do a couple of "dry run" tours of two or three days each to test out your bike setup and other gear; you'll want to make some adjustments to your gear once you get some real-life experience with it.

Interview with Andy Corson of Surly Bikes

Phoresia.org, a surfer blog, talked to Surly Bikes' Andy Corson the other day about the company's history, philosophy, and direction. My favorite quote:

Q. What’s in the future for Surly?
A: Organic fair trade chocolate covered bacon. Adult sized wool footy pajamas. Pedal powered personal flying machines.

I'll be first in line for the wool jammies. Read the full interview here. Thanks to Brent for the link!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Give her flowers, part 1: Electra Amsterdam


Now this will make someone very happy on Valentine's Day! The Electra Amsterdam in Yellow Tulip is currently in stock in Medina and Rocky River.

More Pedal-Power Links

From our friends at UrbanVelo, two contraptions that I just HAVE to find a way to try out someday:

Pedal-powered roller-coaster, at the Washuzan Highland Park in Okayama, Japan:



Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pan Ohio Hope Ride Networking Events

Now in its third year, the American Cancer Society's Pan Ohio Hope Ride is a four-day, fully-supported bicycle ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati with overnight stops at local colleges. The date(s) of this year's ride are July 30 through August 2, 2009.

This month, two networking events will be held in the Cleveland and Columbus areas. These informational meetings will be an opportunity for past riders, new riders, and cycling enthusiasts to come out and see what the Pan Ohio Hope Ride is all about.
  • Free food and drink specials
  • Find out answers about the ride
  • Sign up for the 2009 ride
  • 2009 prototype jersey designs will be unveiled at these events


Cleveland event:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

6:00-8:00pm

Winking Lizard in Independence

6901 Rockside Rd.

Cleveland, OH 44131



Columbus event:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

6:00-8:00pm

Buffalo Wild Wings

6595 Perimeter Loop Dr.

Dublin, OH 43016


Please RSVP to panohioinfo@cancer.org if you are able to attend either event.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bed and Bike America

One Street, a bicycle advocacy organization based in Prescott, Arizona, has launched a separate project called Bed and Bike America. The aim of the new site is to provide a place for travellers to find bicycle-friendly businesses (mainly hotels and bed & breakfasts), and a place for those businesses to make themselves known to their potential customers. You can find the new service at: http://www.bedandbikeamerica.org/

Two other random links I'll throw in today, courtesy of the folks at the Surly Bikes Blog:

Danny and the Demoncycle: Hilarious vintage comic promoting bicycle safety.

Heavy Metal Laundry Tips: Not bike-related, but hilarious as well. "Does the Snuggle bear really look like he knows the difference between Iron Maiden and Iron Angel?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The secret to Scott Cowan's success


The Plain Dealer's Terri Mrosko profiled Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan last Sunday in her special weekly feature, "The secret to my success." Click here for the online version of the article, or you can read it below.
Century Cycles, with three stores in Medina, Peninsula and Rocky River, continues to thrive even with the down economy.

Owner Scott Cowan has led his company to numerous top rankings throughout the bicycle world. It is the eighth top Raleigh bike dealer in the country, and Cowan sits on Raleigh's dealer advisory board. For the seventh straight year, the company was named a Top 100 bicycle dealer by manufacturing representatives and recently won accolades for its superior customer service.

In the bicycle business, Cowan said it's especially important to "walk the walk." That means he lives and breathes bicycles. "I have a passion for cycling, customer service and for making people happy."

There's a difference between just saying it and really making it happen for every person every time they walk in the door. Again, passion is the secret, he said.

"I think you have to do something that you believe in," Cowan said about his success. "I think it's really important to do what you love. Also, perseverance is important. There are alots of obstacles you have to overcome in small business. I mean, no business is easy."

Of Roads and Routes: A Tale of Two Cities

When I moved to Northeast Ohio a few years ago, it seems like I got to know Cleveland and the surrounding cities, towns, neighborhoods, and roads between them in a fairly consistent manner, regardless of whether I traveled by car or bike. One thing I noticed back then, and continuing to today, is that usually, the best route to get somewhere by car is also the best route to get there by bike. That is, of course, the best route by car includes freeways.

One example is my 14-mile commute from home to the shop. The quicket and most direct route by car is on Routes 91 and 303. I've spent countless hours researching alternate bike routes, both by staring at Google Maps and by actually riding my bike, trying to find a good way to avoid the major roads, and possibly incorporate more of the Bike & Hike and/or Towpath Trails. There are many alternate routes, but all of them involve more hills and more miles. I've finally resigned myself to sticking with 91 and 303 and dealing with the traffic.

Prior to living here, I spent 15 years living in Pittsburgh, with the last six of those years as an avid cyclist. It seemed like there were certain places that I only went to by bike, and other places that I only went to by car. My knowledge the region consisted of two mental maps, a bike map and a car map, and the two eventually merged slowly over time, as I visited places by car that I only biked to before, and vice-versa, and I would have those "a-ha!" moments as I realized "That's where that is!"

Maybe it's a result of the uniquely hilly geography of Western Pennsylvania, or maybe some undefined quality of the layout of the roads and trails, but either way, the best way to get to a place by bike was almost never the same as the best way to get there by car.

On the other hand, maybe this perceived difference has nothing to do with the differing geographies of Cleveland and Pittsburgh, maybe it's just a function of how my riding styles and habits have evolved over the years.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Century Cycles Brewmasters

Last night, Scott Cowan and a few more of us from the Century Cycles staff headed out to the Brew Kettle in Strongsville for the final steps in our latest batches of custom hand-crafted beers. Our Little 500 Lager and Stone Cutter IPA will be served at our upcoming Masi Launch / Breaking Away Celebrazione in March. Stay tuned for more details on this event!


Sanitizing the bottles


Doug, Ken, and Krista applying labels to bottles.

Krista carefully lines up a Stone Cutter IPA label.


Kevin at the bottling station.





The whole gang!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sneak Preview: Raleigh Carbon Road Bike


Check out these photos of Raleigh's updated carbon fiber frame road bike. This prototype is being tested at the Raleigh skunk works outside of Seattle; the production model is due to be released some time this summer. The new design sports changes like a BB30 bottom bracket, carbon dropouts, oversized bearings in the head tube for increased strength, and a new tubing shape, all to help revitalize the frame's look and ride feel.














Monday, February 2, 2009

What's your flat tire story?


This week's Hot Deal on air pumps has spawned a lot of stories about flat tires. Those of you who ride a bunch have a bunch of stories. And then there are the people who have just one story, but it has a bunch of flats, like this rainy tale of woe from Scott Cowan:

Starting out on a self-supported two week tour from the RR store a few years ago, I left in a drizzle...and it was raining hard as I got into Bay Village....and was a torrential downpour as I entered Avon Lake. A 1/2-mile before the power plant I had a flat!! Of course it was the rear tire...which was made more difficult to change because of the HEAVY rain and all of the gear I had on my bike (not to mention it was a cold rain)!

I got it changed...and pumped it up best I could with my MINI-MINI pump...about 60 pounds (not enough for a fully loaded touring bike)! I limped to the nearest gas station to "top it off"...put the coins in the machine...and proceeded to let almost all of the air OUT (the pump was busted)! So, I again pumped it up...and proceeded on down Lake Road...low on air...and still pouring.

I was trying to make the once-a-day ferry out of Sandusky to Pelee/ Leamington Ontario...and I was now a half an hour behind...and it was still monsooning!

I busted ass without stopping into Vermilion (all the time paranoid about the rear tire)...grabbed some QUICK energy snacks (instead of eating lunch as I had planned)...and pushed on. By this time the rain had let up a bit (the roads were more like rivers), and I felt that I would just make the ferry by about 10 minutes...IF I didn't have any more issues!

Of course, 6 miles from the docks...my rear tire went flat again! All hope of making the ferry that day went out the window and I was going to be a day behind in getting to my rendezvous destination in Ludington MI with John Moss.

That day's rains, which never really ended, was the day the Cuyahoga river flooded and washed out major chunks of the towpath...a 100 year plus rain storm!

Back to flats....over the course of that trip I had a total of 7 flats! A ten years supply of flats in two weeks...!

C'mon -- let's hear it. What's your flat story??

National Mountain Bike Patrol Recruitment

The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA), in cooperation with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), is looking for dedicated volunteers for the National Mountain Bike Patrol. If you like:
  • Mountain biking
  • Helping other people
  • Being involved in the management of your local trails
  • Learning and sharpening such skills as outdoor first aid, trail-side bike repair, off-road riding, and communication
Then the NMBP is for you!

There are three requirements for IMBA/NMBP Patroller Membership:
  1. Current certification in basic first aid and CPR
  2. Successful completion of any of the following courses:
    • A mountain bike patrol training course (taught by a local NMBP-affiliated group, such as CAMBA)
    • A volunteer host training program (taught by a local land manager)
    • A ski area specific mountain bike patroller training (taught by a local ski area management or ski patrol)
  3. A passing grade on the NMBP Patroller online exam.
If you're interested in becoming involved, send an e-mail to Brian Lowe at nmbp@camba.us.