Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Riding at West Branch

I lucked out with nice weather on my day off yesterday, and decided to hit the trails at West Branch State Park, for what would probably be my last training ride before the Iceman Cometh Challenge race next weekend. I always get a little uncharacteristically superstitious during my last ride before a big race. If I ride poorly, I'm afraid that's a preview of how I'll ride during the race, but if I have a good ride, I fear that maybe I've "peaked" too soon.

The trail was covered with leaves, which made picking lines through the more technical sections tricky; I ended up walking more of the rock gardens than I usually have to. Plus, when I'm riding alone in the woods, I usually dial it back a notch just for safety. These two factors combined to neither shatter nor over-inflate my confidence. I did two full laps of the lake-side and upper trails for a nice and long, but casually-paced, pre-race shake-down.

The trail was relatively dry, other than a few of the usual trouble spots. It's raining today, though, so if you plan to mountain bike, help preserve the trails and give them a couple of days after the rain stops to dry out. With some luck and more dry days, we may have plenty of good fall off-road riding left to do this season.

It's also hunting season, and the trails at West Branch are open to hunters, so if you plan to ride there, where bright colors and make lots of non-animal-sounding noise (I would not recommend wearing this as a bike jersey).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Business Travelers Take to Their Bikes

A recent article in the New York Times talked to several business travelers about how they go about riding their bicycles while on the road. Bike commuting is on the rise in the U.S. due to increased awareness of the environment, health, and more recently, the economy. Those same people discuss the challenges and advantages of continuing their bike commuting habits while traveling for their jobs.

You can read the whole article online at: http://tinyurl.com/yf3q599

Thanks to Krista from the Century Cycles store in Rocky River for forwarding this story!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Keep on Tow Truckin'

The crew out at Xtracycle HQ in California helped out one of their co-workers by hitching up their Xtracycle bicycles (actually, two Surly Big Dummys and one Xtracycle) to a broken-down pickup truck to tow it to get fixed. The trio and their six wheels actually make surprisingly easy work of it, as you can see in this video that they posted:

Tow Truckin' from Xtracycle on Vimeo.



If you want to Define your life and Ride an Xtracycle or Big Dummy, stop in and talk to us at any of our three Century Cycles stores, and we'll guide you through the process of ordering one for you and getting it set up to roll!

Friday, October 23, 2009

This weekend: Highland Community Health Fair & Bike Tour

Join Century Cycles at the Highland Community Health Fair & Bike Tour! We're proud to be one of the event's premier sponsors and they're planning a great weekend for area bicyclists and their families.

The Health Fair is from 10am - 2pm on Saturday 10/24 at Highland High School at 4150 Ridge Road in Medina. Be sure to stop by the Century Cycles booth to pick up a $25 gift certificate! Other exhibitors will be offering health screenings, flu shots, children's entertainment, and more.
The Bike Tour is on Sunday 10/25 at 10am - 2pm, starting from Highland Middle School at 3880 Ridge Road in Median. You can choose from 3 or 10-mile family-friendly rides, or more challenging routes of 25, 35, or 50 miles. Registration is on-site. The first 300 to register get a free event water bottle!

Mechanical support for the ride will be provided by Don Barnett, expert mechanic from our Medina store.

BUT WAIT! THERE ARE MORE LATE-SEASON CYCLING EVENTS!

Also this weekend is the Medina County Bicycle Club's Friendsville Freebie Fifty / Fall Foliage & Frostbike Frolic (helpfully nicknamed the FFF/FFFF) on Saturday 10/24.

Plus don't forget to burn off all that Halloween candy at the Lorain Wheelmen's Red Flannel Metric Century in Oberlin on Sunday, November 1!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Self" helps "Today Show" hosts ride Giant


The November issue of Self magazine on newsstands now features the maiden voyage into the sport of triathlon taken by NBC "Today Show" hosts Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb. Take a look at the bikes the women are riding and you’ll discover the Giant Avail 1. The caption pointing to the bike in the photo: “A road bike is lightweight with narrow tires—great for racing, $1350; GiantForWomen.com” Fans were able to keep up with the progress of Natalie and Hoda in features broadcast on the "Today Show" as they trained for the War at the Shore Triathlon in Long Branch, NJ, on September 20.

Century Cycles has both the 2009 Giant Avail 1 (in stock in medium and large in Rocky River) and the 2010 Giant Avail 1 (in stock in medium, also in Rocky River).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Race Across The Sky: The Leadville Trail 100:" In theaters on Thursday


When we went to see "Zombieland" last week, we saw a preview for "Race Across The Sky: The Leadville Trail 100," in movie theaters at 8pm EST this Thursday, October 22. It's a documentary about one of the most intense endurance races in sports -- a 100-mile mountain bike race in Colorado for 12 grueling hours over 14,000 vertical feet of climbing. This one-night event will also feature a panel discussion with Lance Armstrong, Chris Carmichael, Dave Wiens, Ken Chlouber, and more.

In the Century Cycles area, you can see it at the Cinemark Valley View, Cinemark Crocker Park, Regal Montrose, Regal Severance, and Cinemark Southpark.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raleigh Singlespeed Cyclocross Giveaway

Okay, this contest is a little unique, but if you're a singlespeed fan in the market for a new cyclocross frameset, it may be just up your alley. Brought to you by Raleigh Bicycles, Shimano, and the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships (SSCXWC).

Starting some time tomorrow (Monday, October 19, 2009), Raleigh Bicycles will begin selling 50 limited-edition framesets for $725 from its web site at: www.raleighusa.com

49 of those buyers will receive this limited-edition brown singlespeed cyclocross frameset, which includes the Raleigh Aluminum Singlespeed Cyclocross frame in brown, matching Easton EC90X carbon fork, and FSA headset:
One of the 50 buyers will be chosen at random, and instead of the frameset above, will receive this complete limited-edition Raleigh Singlespeed Cyclocross bicycle:This bike is equipped with a Shimano Singlespeed Cyclocross "Dream Group" including:
  • Dura-Ace Carbon Tubeless Wheelset
  • Dura-Ace Di2 Brake Levers
  • Dura-Ace Crankset
  • Hutchinson Cross Tires
  • Shimano PRO Handlebar, Stem, and Seatpost
  • Chris King Singlespeed Cog

The Google Maps Street View Trike

Google Maps, as many of you may be aware, has a "Street View" feature that lets you get an online advance look at where you're going while you're planning your trip in front of your computer. The Street View photos have been compiled over the years by an army of Google cars driving around the world and taking digital photos.

Google has now unveiled the Street View Trike, a three-wheeled 250-pound tricycle, to do the job of photographing places that are not accessible by car. Maybe this will help get them further along in implementing the "Bike There" feature?

This video shows the Google Maps Street View Trike in action. You can suggest places for them to take the Trike at: www.google.com/trike



Thanks to Krista from our Rocky River store for forwarding this story, via the Huffington Post!

Friday, October 16, 2009

2010 Raleigh Bicycles specs now online


The 2010 Raleigh Rush Hour

Last month, I reported our excitement about getting the new 2010 Raleigh Talus 5.0 in stock. I mentioned that we didn't have its specs, or the details on the rest of the 2010 Raleigh line, listed on our web site yet.

Well, for those of you who have been waiting on the edge of your seats, that time is now here! You can start at our Raleigh Bicycles page and browse by bike style, or just use our search box on the left of any page to find your favorite model.

As we've mentioned before, Raleigh has really upped the ante on the look of their bikes this year, such as on the aforementioned Talus 5.0 mountain bike. Topping out their road bike line is the Team, featuring a carbon monocoque frame, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, SRAM Red 20-speed drive train, and FSA carbon handlebar. At the top end of the mountain bike line is the limited-edition XXIX Pro, with a Reynolds 853 steel frame, Fox F29 suspension fork, and trail-hugging 29-inch wheels. If you're looking to try the big 29er wheels on a budget, check out the Talus 29 or my perennial favorite, the XXIX singlespeed (now in "Kermit" green).

The popular Rush Hour fixed-gear bike is back with a traditional drop handlebar, as well as with a Flat Bar. For the more practical commuter, check out the unique new Alley Way, with an 8-speed internally-geared hub and chainless carbon belt drive-train.

Of course, you're sure to find plenty of our best-selling hybrid models in our stores soon. The Venture 4.0 has some slick new colors, and the Route 4.0 features a new, more relaxed comfort geometry. Best of all, both models have held the line and feature the same price as their 2009 counterparts, $449.99.
The 2010 Raleigh Men's Route 4.0

Thursday, October 15, 2009

So Long and Good Luck, Brent!
























Today is Brent's last day working at Century Cycles. Brent has been a fixture here for over a dozen years, with time spent working at both the Medina and Peninsula stores. He will be sorely missed!

He's leaving to pursue a new career with a family business. Fear not, though, as he'll still be around. Look for him at Night Rides and other events -- he'll be easy to spot on his Big Dummy or some other Surly.

Good luck, Brent!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our Latest eNewsletter - October 14, 2009


The latest edition of the Century Cycles eNewsletter has just been sent. If you didn't get it in your Inbox, you can read it online here.

Catch up on past issues and subscribe from our eNewsletter Archive page.

TechTalk: Choosing Pedals

What different kinds of pedals are available for you bike? What issues do you need to consider when choosing which pedals are right for you?

Pedals come in three basic varieties: platform pedals, pedals with toe clips, and clipless pedals.

Platform pedals are the regular pedals that come with most recreational bicycles. These pedals let you wear any shoes you want. Some platform pedals have a smooth surface that makes them "barefoot" compatible, ideal for a beach cruiser or other comfort-style bike. Others have a jagged "bear trap" surface, which provides a better grip on the bottom of your shoes, to help keep your feet from slipping off of the pedals.
The Avenir Comfort-Plus platform pedal

Other platform pedals have a mostly solid surface, with raised knobs that provide grip on your shoes. This type of pedal is preferrred by BMX riders, freeride, and downhill mountain bikers, and other "extreme" riders who want a pedal with good grip on their shoes, but want the ability to easily dismount in an emergency. On some higher-end versions of these pedals, the gripping knobs are screwed in place, and can be replaced when they wear out.
The Odyssey JC/PC BMX pedals

Platform pedals are appropriate for casual riders who are not riding long distances and are not concerned about getting the maximum performance out of their bike. Many serious riders also have a spare "errand" bike with platform pedals, which they can use to just hop on for a ride down the street to the convenience store or coffee shop.

A toe clip is a roughly C-shaped device that is attached to the front of a platform pedal to provide a cradle to hold your foot in place. Sometimes the toe clips are used alone, or with a strap that allows you to adjust how tightly your foot fits inside the toe clip. The toe clip or clip-and-strap pedals provide a way to hold your feet in place more securely, but still allow you to wear any type of shoes that you want.
The Dimension Combo Compe pedal with toe clip and strap

Clipless pedals are used in conjunction with cycling-specific shoes. The pedals come with a pair of cleats that bolt onto the bottoms of the shoes, and a mechanism in the pedals allows the shoes and cleats to click into place. Some people describe this system as like a miniature version of a ski boot and binding. The term "clipless" is often confusing, because why is that word used to describe a system where your feet click, or "clip," into the pedals? The term "clipless" was adopted for this type of pedals to distinguish them from the toe-clip-and-strap pedals described above. The advantage of clipless pedals is that they allow you to pedal with a more even, circular motion, which is more efficient, and less tiring on the muscles in your legs and feet over the course of a long ride.

Many people are fearful of trying clipless pedals, because they don't feel comfortable with the idea of being "attached" to their bike. However, the clipless mechanism is designed so that your feet are held firmly in place during the normal circular pedaling motion, but all it takes to un-click is to rotate your foot slightly outward, with very little force needed to release the cleat. People who are considering switching from a platform pedal to some kind of more secure foot retention often think that they should take the "baby step" of trying clip-and-strap pedals first, then moving up to clipless. In our experience, however, we've found that it's easier, and probably even safer, to go straight to clipless pedals. If you are in a situation where you are losing your balance and about to fall over, your natural inclination is to move your foot outward, which is also the motion that allows you to un-click from your pedals. This is in contrast to the rear-pulling motion that is required to remove your foot from a toe-clip-and-strap pedal. Ironically, we've found that the hardest thing for new clipless pedal users is getting used to how to click IN to them.

There are two functional features to consider in all clipless pedals: float and release angle. The float is the amount that your foot is able to swivel side-to-side WITHOUT un-clicking from the retention mechanism. The release angle is the amount that you need to swivel your foot in order to un-click from the retention mechanism. Some pedals have no float; most typically have around six degrees of float, and some have as much as 20 degrees of float. Some pedals have adjustable float and/or release angle.

Clipless pedals come in versions that are specific for road bikes, and for mountain bikes.

Road cycling shoes have a smooth sole, with a set of three or four mounting holes on each, where the cleat is bolted into place. The larger surface of most road bike pedals and cleats are meant to spread the weight of your foot over a larger area, providing more comfort over the duration of very long on-road rides and races. The disadvantage of road-specific pedals is that the smooth sole and large cleat on the shoes makes it somewhat difficult to walk around when taking a break off of your bike. The click-in mechanism on road pedals is usually only on one side of each pedal, but the pedals are usually weighted in such a way so that they hang in just the right position to facilitate getting your foot clicked in easily. A company called Look makes popular road bike pedals of this type. Another company called Speedplay makes two-sided road pedals distinguished by their "lollipop" appearance.
The Look Keo Carbon road bike pedal
The Speedplay X/1 Titanium road bike pedal

Clipless pedals for mountain biking come with cleats that attach to the shoes with two bolts each. The cleat is recessed into the tread of the shoe. The treads on the shoes have a surface sometimes like that of a running shoe, or a more aggressive tread like a hiking boot. Either way, the tread gives you traction for times when you need to dismount and run or walk your bike on the mountain bike trail. For this reason, many people use mountain bike pedals and shoes on their road bikes, because this makes it much easier to walk around during lunch stops and other breaks during long road rides.

The most common type of mountain bike pedals use the SPD mechanism manufactured by Shimano (the "SPD" stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics). This is the type of pedal found on the indoor trainer bicycles used in many spinning classes. Most SPD pedals have the click-in mechanism on both sides, to make it easy to click your foot in place no matter how the pedal happens to be sitting when you get going. Shimano makes a version of this pedal (the PD-M324) that has the SPD mechanism on one side, and a regular platform on the other, so that you can use the same pedals with your cycling-specific shoes, but also wear regular sneakers once and a while if you want to hop on the same bike for a quick errand. The downside of these particular pedals is that you have fiddle with your feet a bit to spin them to the proper posi
tion when you get going.
The Shimano PD-M324 pedal

Several other manufacturers make mountain bike pedals that have become pretty popular. They tout features such as lighter weight and designs that supposedly to not get clogged up with mud in messy off-road conditions. The cleats that come with these pedals are specific to the pedals, and do not work with SPD pedals. However, these pedals are still compatible with any shoes that are SPD-compatible. Once such model is the Egg Beater pedals made by Crank Brothers, which is distinguished by its four-sided cleat mechanism, making click-in even more easy and mindless. Speedplay makes a mountain bike pedal called the Frog that features the same almost limitless float as their road bike pedals.
The Crank Brothers Egg Beater 4Ti mountain bike pedal


The Speedplay Frog Ti mountain bike pedal

Pedals range in price from $10 for a basic set of platform pedals, to several hundred dollars for the latest lightweight racing pedals. The least expensive are made mostly of plastic, and as you go up in price, you get increasing sophisticated combinations of plastic, chromoly steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. Another feature of higher-priced pedals is the quality of the bushings and ball bearings in the rotating spindle.

Century Cycles carries a variety of road bike and mountain bike pedals, and shoes for both men and women for use with clipless pedals and spin classes. Stop by one of our stores and let our experienced staff help you select the combination that's right for you!

Staff Profile: Chris Walters

Chris Walters is proof that sometimes it pays off to spend a lot of time hanging out at a bike store. He was such a regular at Century Cycles in Medina that they hired him when he turned 16. Today, at the ripe old age of 20, Chris still works at the Medina store and goes to Lorain County Community College, where he’s pursuing an Associates of Arts degree with a focus on literature. He plans on transferring to Cleveland State next semester.

Q: How many bikes do you have?

A: I just whittled it down to four. They are in a work area in the corner of my basement.

Q: So I take it your parents are supportive of your bicycling?

A: Oh, yeah. When I was younger, my mom had me go on 10-mile bike rides with her. I hated it at the time – I just wanted to watch TV or hang out with my friends – but now I realize it was one of the big reasons I took up cycling.

Q: What’s your favorite ride or trail?

A: My favorite trail is Reagan Park. My favorite ride right now is my commute to work. It’s 13 miles, mostly on country roads. It’s real peaceful.

Q: What cycling advice do you most often give?

A: Clipless pedals are easier to get out of than toe clips, if you’re falling. Most people are scared they’ll be stuck in them, but you’re more likely to pull your foot sideways than backwards as you’re falling.

Q: What was your first bike?

A: My parents gave me a black-and-white tricycle with BMX handlebar pads. I still have it, but I didn’t count it in the six.

Q: Road or dirt?

A: I prefer dirt but I fall a whole lot less on the road.

Q: Do you have a favorite bike?

A: I do. It’s my single-speed Bianchi Pista. It’s just so simple.

Q: What’s your biggest accomplishment so far on a bike?

A: Probably finishing the ABC Ride on January 1 two years ago. I did it on a bike with a garbage-picked frame and scrap parts, wearing a wool jersey with gym shorts. I did the 27-mile loop and it started to snow and hail. Now that I have winter clothes I look back and wonder what was going through my head.

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

A: I. Am. Free.

Q: What do you when you’re not at Century Cycles or on a bike?

A: I’m going to school, so have quite a few writing and art projects. And right now I’m dating this incredible girl, so that takes up a fair amount of time.

Q: What was the best piece of cycling advice you’ve been given?

A: You only need brakes when you need them.

Q: Anything else?

A: I heard an amazing bit of advice given by Tom to Andrew. It was later passed on to me. “You can hide behind the apron or you can wear it like a cape.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FREE CAMBA Preview Night at Ray's MTB

Ray's MTB Indoor Park, the one-of-a-kind indoor mountain bike park right here in Cleveland, opens for the season this weekend. If you're a member of the Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association (CAMBA), or you'd like to become one, you can get into Ray's for a FREE preview this Friday, October 16, 2009. The fun goes from 6:00-10:00pm.

Just show your current CAMBA membership card for entry. If you're not a current CAMBA member, you can join or renew when you show up at Ray's.

Go to www.raysmtb.com for directions and more info about Ray's.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanks for a great Night Ride season!

Our final Night Ride on the Towpath Trail was this past Friday, October 9, 2009. Rain all day kept many riders away, but at 15 hardy riders did end up showing up. Despite the wet weather, it was relatively warm, making for a pleasant fall evening ride.

A big THANK YOU to all of the customers, friends, and staff of Century Cycles who came to our Night Rides in 2009 to help make this our most successful Night Ride season ever! Despite a couple of rainy nights, we averaged over 100 people per ride!

Here are a few pictures from this past Friday's ride; you can check out pictures from other past rides using the links on our Night Ride web page.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Night Ride is ON, without costumes


The Night Ride on the Towpath scheduled for 8:00pm tonight (Fri 10/9/2009) is still ON! Despite the rain, a couple of the Century Cycles staff have said they will ride, unless it becomes a torrential downpour by this evening.

Don't bother coming in costume, though, as rain gear will probably be more appropriate. We'll save the costumes and glow-in-the-dark goodies for the first ride of the 2010 season (or a later one, if it's a rainy April in 2010!).

The Peninsula store will remain open until 8:00pm to handle any of your last-minute Night Ride needs, such as fixing a flat tire, a new light, helmet, or waterproof jacket.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Case for Working With Your Hands

Back in the spring, the New York Times published an excerpt from a book called "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work." The author, Matthew B. Crawford, gave up an office job to work as a motorcycle mechanic, and talks about the culture of that environment, and the joys and sorrows therein. Some of us thought it pretty well reflected what it's like to work in the bicycle business, as well, and that it was worth sharing with you. Read the article online here: http://tinyurl.com/nf3g9h

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Towpath Trail Closed Sat 10/10 and Sun 10/11

PLEASE NOTE: Sections of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail will be CLOSED this Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11, 2009 for the annual Towpath Marathon.

The closures begin at dusk on Saturday, and continue through the end of the race, some time Sunday afternoon.

The area affected by the closure is from Ira Road (about 5 miles south of Peninsula) to just north of the Station Road Bridge near Brecksville (about 7.5 miles north of Peninsula).

Also note that the Lock 29 Trailhead parking lot on Mill Street in Peninsula will be closed during this time. The overflow parking lot just up the street will remain open.

For more information on the Towpath Marathon, visit www.towpathmarathon.net.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Camper Bike



Here's the ultimate in comfort and convenience for all of your bicycle tourers out there! This working project was designed by artist Kevin Cyr; you can see more images at his web site.

Thanks to UrbanVelo for the link!

Monday, October 5, 2009

National Park fever!

The Plain Dealer featured this story on its front page today about the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with the headline "Avid park users want more, expanded trails: Mountain biking, backpacking among new uses proposed in survey for the Cuyahoga Valley." The story, written by Jim Nichols, notes:

...the No. 1 request across the board is for trails for mountain bikes. And mountain bikers aren't the only ones asking the park service to repeal the ban it has maintained on mountain bikes ever since Congress established the park in 1974, when it was called the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

Among the most influential is the Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council, a volunteer coalition of trail enthusiasts whose equestrians, hikers, runners and cross-country skiers do the bulk of the national park's trail maintenance and repairs. The council has even proposed three sections of the park for dedicated mountain-bike trails: Terra Vista in Valley View; a land wedge between Interstates 271 and 80 near Boston Mills; and in Bath Township, alongside Summit County's O'Neil Woods Metro Park.

Said Council President Dave Daams of Garfield Heights: "There is a large group of mountain bikers in the community, and I think their request for a trail is legitimate -- not only because of their numbers, but also because mountain bikes don't have any more adverse impact on the land than horses do -- and there are many trail opportunities for horses."

Also supporting that call: local chapter representatives from the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Buckeye Trail Association, the Medina County Horsemen's Council and, of course, the Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association.

Want to know more about the national park in our backyard? Watch WVIZ on Wednesday, October 7, at 8 p.m. to see the documentary "Generations: Cuyahoga Valley National Park." (Thanks, Lady Petch, for the tip!)

Bicycle Maintenance Class in Strongsville


In partnership with Century Cycles, the Strongsville City Schools are offering a Basic Bicycle Maintenance Class. The class will be taught by our own Don Barnett, master mechanic from our Medina store!

The class will cover flat tire repair and other basic maintenance topics.

The class is open to the public. Pre-registration is required; register by calling 440-572-7025.

Cost: Strongsville residents--$19; non-residents--$23
Date: Saturday, October 10, 2009
Time: 9:00-11:00am
Location:
Strongsville High School, Room 300
20025 Lunn Rd.
Strongsville, Ohio 44149




Saturday, October 3, 2009

Biking in the Bay Homecoming Parade


Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan was in the Bay Homecoming parade yesterday, riding along with BHS teacher Erin Whistler (left) and her Project Earth students. They threw out 100 t-shirts to the crowd lining the parade route -- hence Scott's decision to ride an adult trike with a basket to hold 100 t-shirts!

Project Earth is the student environmental group that helps us organize Bay Bike To School Challenge sponsored by Century Cycles and Chipotle. Planning is already underway for the 2010 Bike To School Challenge, scheduled for May 3-21!

Friday, October 2, 2009

LIVIN' STRONG in Medina!


Stop by any Century Cycles store to help us celebrate LIVESTRONG Day!

Century Cycles named Best of the Best!

Many thanks to readers of the Medina Gazette for voting Century Cycles Best of the Best bike shop in Medina county! We are very honored and most proud of the fact that Century Cycles has won this award every year there has been a bike shop category, since 2005.

Well-deserved kudos go to Petch, Don, Tom, Drew, Keith, Chris, Neil, Eric, Rob and everyone at the Medina store -- we're the best because they're the best.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Towpath Exploration in Akron

I've been hearing a lot about the new Towpath Trail connections in and around Akron. It had been quite a while since I had ridden down in that area, and I had some time last week, so I thought I'd go do a little exploring to check it out.

If you head south on the Towpath from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it now takes you all the way into downtown Akron. The newest section takes you on a bridge over the MLK Parkway, and dead-ends at a downtown corner. Fear not, though, as the on-street connection is very short and safe. It is clearly marked with signs; you can take the road, but sticking to the sidewalk is allowed (and encouraged, if you're riding with the kids). Go about a block and turn right, then go another block and turn left, then go one more block, and you'll be back on the Towpath (again, it's clearly marked with signs).

The dedicated off-street Towpath takes you behind the Canal Park baseball stadium (home of the AAA-league Cleveland Indians affiliate Akron Aeros), behind some additional downtown establishments, and then it appears to dead-end in a parking lot behind the Spaghetti Warehouse. You can proceed straight through the parking lot. Somebody was kind enough to paint these markings on the pavement to show you the way:

The next step to continue following the Towpath route is exactly the opposite of what you would expect. Proceed on the railroad tracks that go through the abandoned-looking factory, ignoring the "DO NOT ENTER" and "Restricted Area" signs!

Continue following the parking lot, and when you run into the street again, turn right, go about 1/2 block, and look for the sign directing you to turn left to get back on the dedicated Towpath.

It just so happened that as I was going through the area, some city workers were getting some additional new signage put up, so it will be even easier to follow the route in the near future.

As you continue south on the Towpath from downtown, you get to the beautiful new Summit Lake Floating Bridge, which was just completed and dedicated this past summer.

The Towpath Trail continues south to Barberton, and dead-ends at Snyder Road. Fear not, again, because all you have to do is make a left on Snyder Rd, follow it about 1/3 mile to the first traffic light, turn right onto Van Buren Road, and follow that about 3/4 mile, and you can hop right back on the Towpath. From there, it's smooth sailing all the way through Clinton, Canal Fulton, and on to Massillon before you hit any on-street riding again.

Just north of Clinton, there is a new primitive campground, for those of you who have been itching for some place to crash while doing some overnight Towpath touring. It's about 1/4 mile south of the Center Road trailhead; look for this little sign and turn-off on your left if you're riding south:
There are three campsites, with no running water, and no open fires permitted. Look for this kiosk with the self-registration sign-up sheet:

Happy Riding!