Friday, August 31, 2012

Temporary closure of the Ira Road Trailhead for the Towpath Trail

The National Park Service announces the closure of Ira Trailhead parking lot in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), from Friday, August 31, at 8:00pm, until Saturday, September 1, at 1:00pm, for the STOMP Bike Ride. Ira Trailhead parking lot is located at 3801 Riverview Road, north of Ira Road, Peninsula 44264.

Alternate nearby trailheads that can be used instead are:
  • Botzum Trailhead and Station, 2928 Riverview Road, south of Bath Road, Akron 44313
  • Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center, 2054 Bolanz Road, between Riverview and Akron Peninsula roads, Peninsula 44264
  • Indigo Lake Trailhead and Station, 4300 Riverview Road, south of Bolanz Road, Peninsula 44264
The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail will remain open to all visitors.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is your company having a wellness fair?


Many companies are helping to improve the well-being of their employees by organizing employee wellness fairs. These events provide valuable information for employees about topics ranging from exercise and nutrition to physical therapy and mental health.

During the past year, Century Cycles has participated in wellness fairs at local companies such as Cliffs Natural Resources, United Airlines, Cleveland State University (below), and Parma Hospital. We would be happy to talk to your employees about the health benefits of bicycling, as well as provide information about our products, bike rentals, repair services, and events.

If you are part of a human resources or employee wellness department, and you'd like to talk to us about participating in your company's next wellness event, please feel free to contact our Marketing/Events Coordinator Tracey Bradnan at tracey@centurycycles.com.

Century Cycles' Josh Ronschke at the Cleveland State University Wellness Fair

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tech Talk: Women's-specific bicycles

Q. I am a woman shopping for a new bicycle; do I need a women's-specific model?

There are certain advantages for a woman to choose a women's-specific bicycle. The first part is sorting out exactly what is meant by the term "women's-specific." This phrase has evolved over time to mean different things to different people. The following information should help you makes sense of what different women's-specific features are available on different types of bikes, and how to choose the one that is right for you.

Step-Through Frames

Most people think of a traditional "ladies" or "girls" bike as one where the top part of the frame (the top tube) slopes down to give the rider a considerable amount of clearance to stand safely over the bike with their feet on the ground. Here is an example of a "men's" bike compared to the same model of bike in the "women's" version:
Raleigh Route 4.0 for men

Raleigh Route 4.0 for women

Notice that even on the "men's" model avoe, the top tube still has some bit of slope; this is common on many styles of modern bikes. You can see the significantly more-sloped top tube on the "women's" model, however.

Here's another example:
Giant Escape 2 for men

Giant Escape 2 for women

Notice how the women's model on the right has a straight top tube compared to the women's Raleigh Route 4.0 above, but it still slopes down considerably more, to meet the seat tube at a lower point.
The most common misconception is that women's bikes are designed this way for safety reasons. If you think about it, men have just as much to lose from an unplanned impact with the bike frame as women do! The real reason that women's frames were made this way goes back to the late 1800's and early 1900's, when women wore long skirts when they rode bicycles. The extra clearance in the frame made it possible to maintain modesty while pedaling in a skirt.

Women's bicycles are still available today with this style of frame, mainly out of tradition. Some women have a greater perception of safety on this type of bike, even though they are unlikely to ride while wearing a skirt. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, you should be able to safely mount, ride, and dismount any standard bicycle, as long as you are properly sized and fitted for that bicycle.

The bicycle industry has been moving toward making the terms "men's" and "women's" bikes obsolete. What used to be called a "men's" bike is now preferably referred to as a "unisex" bike or a "standard" frame; what used to be called a "women's" bike is now perferably referred to as a "step-through" frame.

One of the main reasons for this is that there are some men who prefer a step-through frame. Examples are older men with arthritis, those who've had recent hip replacement surgery, or other conditions that limit flexibility. The step-through frame makes it easier for people in these situations to mount the bicycle, because you can, well, step through the frame, rather that having to swing your leg over the seat.

As a result of this trend, many step-through bike models are now available in "gender-neutral' colors, such as the grays pictured above, rather than "girly" colors like pink and purple. Whether you're a man or woman, if you want the flexibility to be able to wear anything while you ride (such as a business suit with a skirt, a sun dress to go around town or to the beach, or even a kilt!), then a step-through frame is still a practical choice.

There is another style of "traditional" women's bike similar to the step-through style frame, called the mixte frame (pronounced MIX-tee). These are not very common among modern bikes; you're more likely to see them in vintage collections, although due to some nostalgic demand, some manufacturers are bringing back mixte models. The distinguishing feature of a mixte frame is that the top tube is actually two separate pieces, which run past the seat tube and attach to the frame near the back of the rear triangle.
2012 Raleigh Clubman Mixte

There is one thing we always point out to folks considering buying a bicycle with a step-through frame. These bikes are usually more of a challenge to carry from place to place on a car rack, because many car racks are designed to hold the bike by the top tube. There are a few solutions to this issue, all with their own pros and cons:
  1. Use a "frame adapter." This is a device that attaches to the bike between the handlebars and seat, and provides a temporary top tube that allows the bike to more easily attach to most common car racks (see photo below). This is a relatively inexpensive solution, but it does involve a little extra time and hassle every time you need to transport the bike. Plus, in some cases, the adapter bar makes the bike hang too low and close to the ground, which increases the risk that the tires will rub on the pavement while you're driving, or in the worst case, cause the bike to be knocked off the rack completely.
  2. Use a roof rack. This is the most versatile solution, but the cost of roof rack systems is a deterrent to many people. The need to lift bikes up high to get them onto the roof is also a deal-breaker for some.
  3. Use a platform-style rack. These racks hold the bike by the wheels, similar to a roof rack, but they are available in both hitch-mounted and trunk-mounted styles.
Step-through bicycle with frame adapter
Women's-Specific Designs

About a decade ago, bicycle manufacturers started to heed the frequent feedback they were getting from their female customers who wanted performance-oriented bikes that worked better for them than the "standard" models of high-end bikes. One of the most common problems for many women was finding bikes with an appropriate size range to fit them well enough.

Many bike companies' first response to this issue was to produce a women's-specific line that was basically the same as their standard models, but available in smaller sizes, and with more feminine-inspired colors and graphics. This era is now referred to (derisively) as the "shrink-it-and-pink-it" strategy, although this method is still used on many entry-level women's road and mountain bikes.

Fortunately, the industry has come a long way since the shrink-it-and-pink-it days. There are now bicycles that are designed from the ground up to meet the needs of women riders. One way in which this can be done is by adjusting the frame geometry of the bicyle to provide a better fit.

On average, women tend to have longer legs in relation to their torso and arms compared to men. This has sometimes caused a problem when trying to find a good fit on a bike, because to get a bike tall enough to match her legs, a women often ended up with a bike that was too long for her body and arms. The solution was to adjust the frame geometry to account for these differences. In most cases, at first glance, you don't notice any visible difference in the frame design of a women's-specific bike compared to the equivlalent model of standard bike:
Giant Defy 1 (unisex)

Giant Women's Avail 1

Another way in which bicycles can be designed specifically for women is choosing specific components to better meet women's needs, such as:
  • Narrower handlebars - a better fit because women usually have narrower shoulders
  • Women's-specific saddle - shorter in length but wider in the back, to account for a woman's more widely-spaced hip bones
  • Smaller-diameter grips - to better fit smaller hands
  • Shorter reach brake levers and/or shifters - easier to operate by smaller hands
  • Shorter crank arms - sometimes a better fit for shorter riders
  • 650C wheels (instead of 700C) - allows for a smaller bike overall, sometimes necessary for smaller riders (Related article: Tech Talk: Know Your Tire Size)
Note that not all women's-specific bicycles will have all of the above features. The design and components will vary from one style of bike to another, and will vary according to price range.

Women's-specific designs are not limited to the performance road bikes pictures above; they are also found on fitness, hybrid, commuter, and mountain bikes.
Raleigh Cadent FT2 (unisex)

Raleigh Alyssa FT2 (women's)

Raleigh Talus 29 Comp (unisex)

Raleigh Eva 29 Comp (women's)

Note that the design of some women's-specific bikes makes them appropriate for some men, who may have atypical body proportions, or are shorter in stature. For this reason, some men may choose to ride a women's-specific model. Just like with the step-through models mentioned above, many women's-specific models are available in gender-neutral colors, so that nobody would ever know that you're riding a women's bike.
By the same token, some women will have better luck with a standard, i.e. non-women's-specific bike. We've also found that many women prefer the gender-neutral colors, while just as many like the feminine colors. In fact, the shrink-it-and-pink-it strategy worked very well with some women, and there is nothing wrong with that for those women for whom those bikes are meeting their needs well.

For many women, good results can be achieved by taking a standard bike and swapping the stem or other components to make slight tweaks to the fit. These changes are sometimes beneficial even when starting out with a women's-specific model. Every body is different, and different strategies work better for different people.

The moral of the story is that there is a wide array of bike options available to meet the needs of riders of all abilities. Talk to your bike sales person and/or mechanic about what you're looking for, and discuss with him or her any issues you may have had with bikes you've owned in the past. At Century Cycles, we welcome and encourage test rides, so try as many bikes as possible to compare and contrast the different models, and determine which women's-specific features are important to you, and which ones may not be.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This Weekend: Summit Tour Of Metro Parks (STOMP) Bike Ride


Century Cycles is proud to be the exclusive bicycle shop sponsor of STOMP (the Summit Tour Of Metro Parks), one of the largest bicycle touring events in Northeast Ohio.

Registration includes light breakfast, SAG support from our expert mechanics, lunch, live music and more. Route options are 10, 20, and 30 miles, all family-friendly routes entirely on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, beginning at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron.

Online registration, downloadable forms for mail-in registration, and more information are available at: www.stompbikeride.com


Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Clearance Sale Going On NOW!

Don't miss our deepest discounts EVER! This is the time to stock up and save on your favorite bicycles and bicycle accessories -- and get the gear you need for the great fall riding to come.

Hundreds of bicycles on sale, such as the '12 Giant Avail 1 (originally $1,369.99, now $1,199.99), and the '12 Raleigh Route 3.0 (originally $399.99, now $359.99)! Click here to see all sale bikes!
 
Also check out the special markdowns in each store -- up to 60% off Special Summer Blowouts, such as the Bell Muni and Arella helmets, Blackburn Air Tower HP floor pump, Giro Proof winter gloves, and Detours Guppy Ultralight Seat Bags!
 
We also slashed the prices on cycling essentials, including:

30% off all shorts, jerseys, gloves, and socks!

30% off select cold weather gear!

25% off all cycling shoes from Pearl Izumi, Shimano, and Giro!

20% off Pearl Izumi jackets!

40% off cool t-shirts and socks from Electra Bicycles! (Rocky River store only)

The fine print: Now through Labor Day or while supplies last. No special-orders. Sale purchases are final.

Poll: What's your longest bike ride?

We recently heard from two of our long-time Night Ride on the Towpath Trail participants that they just completed their first "century" ride, i.e. 100 miles in one day.

We also received an email from a recent rental bike customer telling us that she rode 6 miles. With that being her first time riding a bike in 15 years, it inspired her to take up cycling on a regular basis to improve her health.

Both of these stories are inspiring to us in many ways, proving that the joys of cycling are within reach for anyone.

They also inspire us to wonder about you, our readers, What is the longest distance you've ever bicycled in a single day? Click here to take our latest online poll and let us know!

Last month's poll asked, "What's in your water bottle during a long bike ride on a hot day??" The unequivocal winner, at 53% of all votes, was "Plain ol' water." Nearly tied for second-place at 20% and 19% each were "Sports drink, like Gatorade or Powerade" and "Water with dissolvable electrolytes, like Nuun tablets." You can see the full results of the last poll here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rest (and ride) In Peace, Chuck Harris

Photo by Greg Siple
The bicycling community around the world is mourning the passing of Charles "Chuck" Harris, who died on Saturday, August 18, 2012 at the age of 76.

Chuck Harris is best known in the bicycling community for the popular bicycle mirrors that he made by hand out of recycled materials. He was a welcome and loved fixture for many years at the Tour of the Scioto River Valley, Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, and other events throughout the region.

According to the obituary from the Mount Vernon News, a gathering to remember and celebrate Chuck's life will be held this Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 3:00pm at the Apple Ridge Shelter House-Sharon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, Ohio.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to Chuck's family, and join them and our fellow cyclists in remembering his life and legacy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

ALERT: Towpath Trail Lock 29 parking lot CLOSED

The National Park Service is performing rehabilitation work on the parking lot at the Lock 29 Trailhead for the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Peninsula.

  • The lot will be CLOSED to all car, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic (no Towpath Trail access) beginning on Monday, August 20.
  • The lot will be open for bicycle and pedestrian access to the Towpath Trail (no car parking) beginning on Friday, August 24.
  • The lot will re-open to all traffic on Friday, August 31.

The Overflow Parking Lot will remain open during this time. This lot is located further north on Mill Street, past the main Lock 29 lot, next to Terry Lumber Co.

Customers utilizing our bicycle rental service in Peninsula can access the Towpath Trail via the following route:
  1. From the store, go directly across Main Street (State Route 303).
  2. Turn right and take the sidewalk across the bridge.
  3. Take the first available LEFT onto Canal Street.
  4. Follow Canal Street down to the Towpath Trail.
Reverse the above directions to get from the Towpath Trail back to the store.


Friday, August 17, 2012

A "one-tank" trip by bike on the Towpath Trail

Rich Oettinger, one of the mechanics at the Century Cycles store in Peninsula, took a 2-day bicycle camping trip this week. We've written about these "sub 24-hour overnights" before, including this article that appeared in Ohio Sports & Fitness Magazine a couple of years ago.

For the details of this particular trip, you can read all about it in Rich's own words, below:

A Century Cycles One-Tank Trip

My friend Brian and I are riding our bikes from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath Trails in a few weeks. So, we decided to do a 2-day ride to make sure everything worked right and we had everything we needed for the trip, i.e. stoves, food, tent, etc. My friend (an Peninsula store customer) Pete also came along with us.

This is a great trip for people who want to get their feet wet in bicycle touring. You don't need a lot of gear to do this type of trip. You can camp or stay in a motel, and eat in restaurants if you choose.


Our bikes were touring and cyclocross bikes--my Raleigh Sojourn, Pete's Surly Long Haul Trucker, and Brian's Raleigh Roper--with racks to carry our gear. They varied in total weight from 91 pounds (mine) down to 63 pounds. It sounds heavy, but was not as bad as you think. I had my full gear that I'll need for the Pittsburgh-DC trip, because I wanted to see how it all felt to carry, but Pete had only a tent, sleeping bag and pad, and a plate and fork to share our food.


We rode from the Botzum Trailhead on the Towpath Trail to NTR Canoe Livery in Bolivar (www.canoe-ohio.com). It is about 55 miles one way. Down near Massillon, the trail gets a little bumpier and rougher than in Summit County. We took 5-minute breaks every 1-1/2 hours or so to see some of the sights. The ride is all on the Towpath Trail, except for some short street detours through downtown Massillon, and about 2 miles on the road to get from where the trail ends and into the village of Bolivar.


The locks in downtown Akron are one of my favorite things to see. I also love riding across the floating bridge on Summit Lake. The city of Canal Fulton is very beautiful; don't forget to stop at the Cherry Street Creamery for ice cream--the Towpath Trail runs right beside it.


Take a trip of your own and see what is your favorite part of this wonderful trail.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How I became a bike commuter

The following article originally appeared in the Saris Cycling Group company newsletter, and then was reprinted in a bicycle industry publication. The author recounts how she started as a non-cyclist working in the bicycle industry, and came to be a regular bicyclist and commuter.

How I became a bike commuter

By Andrea Wetzel

When I first started working at Saris, people asked me, "Do you ride?" And I would respond sheepishly, "Not really, but I have an old bike from college that could use some fixing up."

Now, thanks to the help of some supportive co-workers, I'm enjoying my 8-mile commute from home to work and have signed up for a couple of lengthy summer fundraising rides with my family.

Saris is a company full of people who love bikes. Fast bikes, cruiser bikes, mountain bike, tri bikes, commuter bikes--you name it, it is parked in our warehouse. It's hard not to be inspired when you're surrounded by people who are passionate about bikes. Also, our company has a great commuter incentive program, where employees who bike to and from work log their miles and earn cool prizes like massages or lunch at a local deli.

Save money on gas? Burn some calories? Free massage? I wanted in.

The first thing I needed to do was fix up my 10-year-old mountain bike that I hadn't used since college. The chain was in pretty bad shape and the knobby tires were a chore to ride on the street, so my co-worker Ryan offered to give my bike a tune-up and replace my mountain bike tires with more narrow, slicker, tires, since I'd be riding primarily on the road. He also added a more comfortable seat, fenders and a rack, and gave me a valuable lesson on how to change a flat.

Once my bike was all fixed up, I still wasn't ready to tackle my 8-mile commute each way. I lacked confidence in my bike handling skills and was intimidated by the amount of traffic I saw when driving. Luckily, Zac, our IT manager, pulled up Google Maps' bike route feature and showed me the city's network of bike lanes and paths as well as some quieter streets that I could take on my commute.

The next step was to get my butt into riding shape so I could handle 16 miles a day. I had been running regularly, but wanted to build a cycling base before trying the full commute, so I went out for a couple of easy rides around my house.

One morning, my co-worker Lindsay talked me into putting my bike on the rack of my car and meeting her three miles from the office for my first bike ride in. She showed me where the bike path met the main road and how easy it was to get to our office.

The weekend, I decided to ride all the way from my house to the office and back, 16 miles round trip, to make sure I could handle the miles. It was the most mileage I had ever ridden at once.

I biked in once the following week, meeting my co-worked Rachel en route, which helped me gain some confidence in the heavier traffic. I rode in twice the week after that. Then in May, I decided to ride very day during Bike to Work Week. I made it all five days that week and was thrilled that my legs did not fall off; in fact, they felt pretty good.

Now that I'm accustomed to biking to work, I'm much more likely to hop on my bike for some light grovery shopping or to meet up with friends. And for the days that I end up back in my car, sitting in construction traffic, I know there's an alternative.

Andrea Wetzel is digital marketing manager at Saris Cycling Group with headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. This article was first published in the Saris email newsletter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Massage deal for Century Cycles customers

Our Rocky River neighbor Soothe Massage and Wellness stopped in today -- delivering cookies for the mechanics (Brad says they were delicious!) and a special offer for Century Cycles customers: Get a one-hour full-body Relaxation/DeepTissue Massage for just $49 when you mention this post!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Violent tragedy won't keep a touring cyclist down

Stephen Barton and Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent had been planning their cross-country bicycle ride for three years. Earlier this year, they finally departed from their homes in Southbury, Connecticut and began their two-wheeled journey to San Francisco.

About six weeks into their trip, they arrived in Aurora, Colorado, where they planned to visit and spend the night with another close friend. They decided to pass the time by going to check out the new Batman film. And so, at midnight on July 20, they found themselves in the Century 16 theater, and facing the mayhem that is now etched in our memories.

Stephen and his local friend were critically injured in the shooting; Ethan fortunately escaped unharmed.


Stephen is currently recovering at the Medical Center of Aurora. The 22-year-old says that he eventually wants to finish the bike trip, and use it to benefit other victims.

You can read more in this story from NPR, and in the video below from 9news.com in Colorado:


Click here if the video above is not appearing for you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Krista's ride named one of 50 best in America

Check out Century Cycles -- featured in the cover story of the brand-new issue of Bicycling magazine! Krista's Ashtabula Covered Bridge Loop was picked as the best bicycle ride in Ohio and one of "The 50 Best Rides in America!"

The Ohio section says:
Here you can cross seven old-timey [covered] bridges in one shot, including one that's 613 feet long. But that's not even the best part of this memorable Midwestern sojourn. "How can you beat a ride that swings by a restaurant that serves the best coleslaw in the world?" asks Tracey Bradnan of Century Cycles in Cleveland. The place is called Josephine's, and the secret ingredients are pecans, pineapple and dried cranberries.

On a staff full of bicyclists, Krista McNamee never ceases to amaze and inspire all of us to try new routes and ride more miles. The 47-year-old wife of a Cleveland Police detective has traveled much of Ohio and America by bicycle, including the Southern Tier Bicycle Route. Last year she rode a 900-mile self-supported tour of Nova Scotia, and this year she is planning to ride Michigan's Upper Peninsula once our busy summer season is over.

Click here for details on Ohio's best ride, including maps and Krista's tips -- and be sure to congratulate Krista the next time you see her at the Rocky River store or riding her bicycle!