Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tandem-Touring Couple Visits Peninsula

We hadn't seen any long-distance bicycle tourers here in the past couple of weeks, and so thought that the season was winding down, until this couple stopped in on their tandem (with cargo trailer) today. Meet the Moolhuizens, who left their home on the shores of Lake Michigan and are making their way through Ohio and towards Pittsburgh, PA, where they hope to catch the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath to Washington, DC. From there, they will follow the East Coast Greenway to Key West, Florida.

They said they hope to work a few months in Florida during the winter to save up some cash, then decide whether to head south to Mexico, or north to Alaska. They haven't made any entries in their online trip journal yet, but once they get around to it, you'll be able to find it at: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/moolhuizen

You can see other pictures of bicycle touring visitors to our store at: www.centurycycles.com/for/touring

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy birthday, Scott Cowan!

Today is Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan's 50th birthday and such a momentous birthday seems like a good time to take a little walk down recent-memory lane....

Like when Scott was the cover story of Ohio Sports & Fitness magazine last year (above)....

Or helped spark a bicycling craze in his hometown of Bay Village through his work with Bay Bike To School Challenge....

Or that crazy visit to the Robin Swoboda Show....

Or when he hosted a party to celebrate the movie "Breaking Away"....

Or kicked it with Kenny back in 2008....

Or when The Plain Dealer spent 10 minutes with Scott Cowan....

Have a great day, Scott -- here's to 50 more years of two-wheeled fun and making new memories!

Friday, August 27, 2010

How good is Google Maps's new bike software?

A few Sundays ago, The New York Times ran an interesting article, "Google Leads, You Pedal." It is about how Google Maps's new bike application is reshaping the way bike enthusiasts travel. How good is a software created by a techie thousands of miles away for getting you where you want to go? So far, there are mixed reviews in the always-opinionated biking community.
From a local perspective, Kevin used it the other day to map a bike route. Google took him through the Metroparks and he was surprised to find it steered him on to a bridle trail -- a sure way to get himself fined. He's made a note to himself to contact Google to let them know, which they will appreciate -- the software is user-generated and Google has already received over 20,000 suggested corrections.
What is your experience with Google Maps for biking? Or is there another bike-mapping web site that you prefer?
(Artwork via The New York Times)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Akron Bike Week - Sept. 3-12, 2010

The City of Akron celebrates the 3rd Annual Akron Bicycle Week on September 3 through 12!

Join in the festivities as the Mayor of Akron gets things started at 11:00am on Sept. 3 at the Northside Train Station!

Throughout the week, there are numerous fun group rides planned, including the STOMP Bicycle Adventure (Summit Tour Of Metro Parks) sponsored by Century Cycles on Sept. 4. But, it's not just about the riding--there are more events: farmer's markets, a scavenger hunt, rides on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, plus classes on basic bicycle maintenance and riding skills!

Go to http://www.akronbikeinfo.org/ for the full schedule of events!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vote for a Bike-Sharing program in Cleveland!

News coming to us from GreenCityBlueLake and CoolCleveland.com:

B-Cycle, one of several companies that operate bicycle-sharing programs for cities, is holding a contest to determine a location for one of their next installations. As of this writing, Cleveland is #2 in the voting, behind Rochester, New York.

You can cast your vote for bike-sharing in Cleveland by going to: www.bcycle.com/whowantsitmore.aspx

Be sure to enter a zip code in the city of Cleveland to be sure that all of our votes count!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Product Review: CamelBak Podium Water Bottles

For the past several years since I've been a member of the Century Cycles family, I've been a big fan of the large-size version of our custom Century Cycles water bottles. The squeeze-and-squirt top is quicker and more convenient to use than the traditional pull-top style water bottles. In addition to making hydration on-the-go a little easier, it also provides a good defense against chasing dogs and other hazards of the road.

These basic water bottles do tend to have an issue with the cap leaking. This is especially annoying when they're filled with sports drink rather than water, when they leave streaks of bright red or green goo running down your nice bike frame. But, I always figured, what'dya want for $3.99?

The other day, I started thinking about upgrading to a higher-end water bottle, and so picked up a pair of the CamelBak Podium bottles. They come in clear and solic plastic with assorted color designs, for $8.99 each. I prefer the clear ones, because I like being able to glance down at the bottle in the cages on my bike and be able to see how much fluid I have left. They also come in an insulated version called the Podium ChillJacket for $11.99 each.

Both versions are made with BPA-free polypropylene lined with CamelBak's HydroGaurd to prevent bacteria build-up and resist retaining taste and odor. They feature a wide opening to make filling and cleaning easy. The cap screws on securely, and contains a locking mechanism to prevent spillage if say, for example, you want to stow your bottles in a duffle bag on the way to a ride, or to the gym.

The best part is CamelBak's high-flow valve with no moving parts. Just hold to your mouth and give the bottle a firm squeeze for a good shot of water or your favorite sports drink.

I took my new Podium bottles on a 56-mile ride Sunday morning. The bottles stayed securely held on my bike in my bottle cages, with no rattling. I experienced no leakage from either the caps or the valves. I also think that the nice, steady flow from the valve helped me drink more water than usual during my ride, which is always a good thing.

In conclusion, and this may sound like an exaggeration, but I never imagined that an upgrade as simple and inexpensive as a water bottle could make a ride so much more enjoyable! Stop by our stores to check out the CamelBak Podium and Podium ChillJacket bottles for yourself!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Define your life - at the Cleveland Triathlon!

Here's Mike, a Century Cycles customer from Wadsworth, during the running leg of the Cleveland Triathlon on Aug. 8, 2010. Nice shirt, Mike! Thanks for sharing with us, and congratulations on completing the race!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Our eNewsletter for August 2010

The latest edition of the Century Cycles eNewsletter just hit subscribers' mailboxes yesterday afternoon. You can read the online version here, and sign up to receive your own copy (and catch up on past issues) on our eNewsletter Archive page.

Here's what's in the current issue:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to School Time is Bike to School Time

For some children, heading back to school isn't a joyful occasion, what with the end of summer and the onset of homework. But the way they get to school can inject some joy -- bicycling there can add fun, independence and freedom.

Just ask their parents, many of whom have fond memories of riding a bike to school as a kid. Back in 1969, over half of all students biked to school. Today only about 15 percent of students bike or walk to school, according to the Safe Routes to School Partnership.

Other risk factors are also worrisome: As much as 30% of morning traffic is generated by parents driving their children to school, one-third of schools are in "air pollution danger zones" and more than 33% of U.S. children are now overweight and obese or at risk of becoming so.

At Century Cycles bicycle stores, which sponsors and helps organize area bike to school programs, the bicycling experts have these tips to make back to school time bike to school time:

Stock up on safety essentials

The #1 item is a properly-fitting helmet, which has been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. Century Cycles has a wide assortment of styles and can help with size and straps for the best fit. Also consider a bike lock, a bell (to alert pedestrians a bike is coming their way) and lights or reflective clothing (to improve visibility).

Plan the route to school

The safest place for bicycle riding for older students is on the street, where bicycles must follow the same rules of the road as cars. Review those rules with your children - go with the flow of traffic, obey the traffic laws, be predictable and stay alert. Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk, if your jurisdiction allows it. They should be warned to watch for vehicles in driveways, avoid pedestrians on sidewalks and be especially careful at intersections.

Ride with your kids

If you love bicycling, chances are your kids will, too. Just be sure to model the behavior you're teaching - wear your helmet, obey traffic laws and be respectful to other cyclists and motorists. Along the way, you may also find more joy and feel more fit.

Staff Profile: Paul Gallmeier

Paul Gallmeier, age 61, is one of several customers-turned-employees at Century Cycles. He has been a valuable addition to the part-time staff of the Peninsula store since the Spring of this year. He lives in nearby Sagamore Hills with his wife and their two Boston Terriers.

Q. How long have you been cycling?

A. It's really been a lifelong thing for me. As a kid growing up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, I rode my bike to little league games and practices, and everywhere else. It was my only transportation at Indiana University in Bloomington; I rode to classes, work, and to get groceries and other errands. The only time I've really taken a break from bicycling was when I was in the service.

Q. What was your time in the service like?

A. I enlisted in the Navy in March of '67. I was assigned to a couple of different ships in the Pacific and Atlantic. A big part of the time was along the coast of Vietnam on supply ships, but I was also on an aircraft carrier for a while. The big ships can stay at sea almost indefinitely, as long as they can get food, fuel, and ammunition, and that's what the ships I was assigned to did--I was on an "oiler," or fuel supplier, and an ammo supplier. I got to see many other countries: Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Italy, Malta, and the Greek island of Corfu. One day while we were docked for R&R at Crete, we turned the deck into a floating casino. I loved being a sailor, and I learned a lot, but I got out in 1971 because I also wanted to get a college education.

Q. So, you were at IU in Bloomington--there's a big cycling culture there, with the "Little 500" race and the connection to the movie "Breaking Away" and all...what was that like?

A. It was a great town; I lived there for nine years, and I tried to find a way to stay there longer, but the jobs just weren't there. I did have a job driving for the campus bus service for a while during the filming of the movie, and met a lot of the crew as I drove them around town. There are several scenes in the film where if you are familiar with the town, they just aren't right, like where Dave Stoller is supposed to be riding to campus, but if you know the streets, you can tell he's riding the wrong way!

Q. What was your first bicycle?

A. It was the one I rode around as a kid; I don't remember what brand it was, but it had a swept-back handlebar, coaster brakes, and it was a singlespeed--these (points to his legs) were the real gears! Later, I got a Schwinn Varsity, and then a couple years into college I got a Raleigh Record. I still had that Raleigh when we moved to Ohio. In the late 90's, I got another Raleigh, a C-40 hybrid.

Q. How many bikes do you own now?

A. I have a Raleigh Mojave 4.0 mountain bike that I bought from Century Cycles a couple of years ago, and I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker that I bought since I started working here.

Q. Which is your favorite?

A. I love the Surly Long Haul Trucker; it's the best bike I've ever owned.

Q. What is your favorite place to ride?

A. I like hitting the singletrack once in a while, and I've always really liked the Towpath Trail, but I've started to really enjoy riding on the road more since I got the Surly, and I like doing the Valley Loop. It's starting to get me thinking that maybe now I need a "fast" road bike...

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

A. I like being around the bikes and the gear, and the people I work with. Being a rookie, my co-workers have helped me learn a lot, and I'm still learning. I retired four years ago, and I hardly ever even think about my last job. This has been my best summer in a long time.

Q. What's be best cycling advice you've ever received?

A. When it comes to mountain biking, "Speed is your best friend." It's intimidating at first, but once you get used to the idea, keeping your momentum up as much as you can really helps you clear the rough patches. Also, switching to clipless pedals, and the idea that it's easiest to click into them if you just start pedaling and not worry about clicking in until you get going.

Q. What questions to you get asked most often in the store?

A. A lot of questions about chains--cleaning, lubrication, and such. Also, how to use a presta valve, or knowing the difference between the presta valve and the schrader valve.

Q. What is your favorite post-ride refreshment?

A. I'm a beer guy--I like ales and lagers, and German beers, because that's my heritage. I also don't mind a good stiff shot once in a while--tequila or whiskey.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What kind of car rack do you have?

Yesterday's blog entry provided tips on using various kinds of car racks. So, what kind of car rack are you currently using? Let us know by taking this online poll:

You can see the results of our past online polls at:

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Tips: Car Racks

Unless you're lucky enough to have good bike trails or traffic-free country roads right outside your front door, or you've dedicated yourself to living car-free in all conditions, you probably have to deal with loading your bike onto your car to go for a ride.

Choosing the car rack that's right for your needs is a process of finding a balance among cost, convenience, and security. For an overview of the different styles of car racks, and the pros and cons of each of them, see this page, Understanding Your Car Rack Choices, on our web site.

Of course, the staff at all three of our stores has plenty of experience with installing car racks of all types. We can help you select the right rack to meet your needs and budget, and ensure that it is installed according to the manufacturer's specifications for the utmost in safety and security.

Regardless of the style of car rack that you have or are considering buying, here are five tips that cover some of the most frequently-asked questions that we get about racks, as well as the most frequently-made mistakes.

1. Choose your rack before choosing your car. This may sound a bit ridiculous at first--if you're preparing to invest many thousands of dollars in the car of your dreams, why should your choice be affected by a $100-$200 bike accessory? However, if you're serious about cycling, then you're probably serious about carrying your bike(s) around safely and conveniently. Once you've settled on both the car and the rack you want, check with us or use the rack manufacturer's fit guide to verify that the rack is compatible with the vehicle.

2. When you're setting up a trunk-mounted rack, be sure to have the lower feet resting on the horizontal surface of the car’s bumper (if available). This will ensure that as much of the weight of the racks and bikes is supported by the bumper, and only the minimum necessary strain is put on the supporting hooks and straps. See the photos below for examples:
3. Keep the bike’s wheels from turning using straps or bungee cords. For short trips down to your local bike trail, it's okay to leave your wheels spinning, but for long drives, you'll want to have some way to keep them in place. If you're using a trunk rack, then you can tie the loose ends of the support straps around each wheel. Most hitch racks come with a spare strap that you can use for this purpose. This won't be an issue for most roof racks (and some types of hitch racks), since the wheels are held in place by the rack itself. Keeping the wheels from spinning while you're driving down the highway saves wear and tear on your hubs' bearings. If the wheels are spinning, it's almost as if you're riding your bike the whole distance that you're driving!

4. Don’t let the bike hang too close to the ground. This applies to both trunk racks and some hitch racks, and is a problem more often with cruiser-style bikes or ladies-frame bikes using a frame adapter bar. If one or more of a bike's wheels are hanging too close to the ground, then as you go over a big bump or approach a steep incline, you run the risk of having the wheels dragging on the pavement, or even worse, having the bike knocked off the rack or the rack knocked off the car. To solve this problem, try to fit the arms of the rack into a different area of the bike's frame so that the bike hangs higher. You might also be able to change the position of the frame adapter bar, if you're using one. Also, make sure the rack's bike support arms are set at the appropriate height. See the photos below for examples:

Not ideal
5. Remember not to pull into the garage with bikes on your roof. At least once a year, we have somebody bring in a bike for evaluation after it's been crashed into a garage while on a roof rack. Avoid this situation by coming up with a system for reminding yourself when you have your bikes loaded. One common scheme is to put your garage door opener inside one of your cycling gloves. Another method is to place your garage door opener in a different location inside your car whenever you're carrying bikes. Of course, you've still got to worry about public parking garages and drive-thru service lanes with low clearance. Some people have a sign that they tape or suction-cup to the winshield that says "Bikes On Roof." Whatever it takes to avoid a catastrophe that can mean costly repairs to your car, your bike, and your home.

Century Cycles is an authorized dealer for Thule (say "TOO-lee") and Saris (SARE-iss), two of the most popular and reliable car rack manufacturers, and all of their racks are made here in the good ol' U.S. of A! Stop by any of our three stores and let us help you find the best rack for your vehicle!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bike Aboard! on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad seasonal schedule has been in full swing since June! Don't forget that with the CVSR's Bike Aboard program, you can take your bike on the train for a one-way trip between any two stations for just $2!

See www.centurycycles.com/for/bikeaboard for full details.

This may also be an appropriate time to remind everyone reading this that the railroad tracks running past the Peninsula store are ACTIVE! Keep an eye out for the warning signals and the crossing gates as you ride or drive down Rt 303. This driver barely missed getting caught by the train just before this past weekend's Night Ride on the Towpath Trail:

And, don't park too close to the tracks, even when there's no train in sight at the moment. This Prius didn't get off so lucky:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Akron Cycling Festival - Sat. Aug. 21, 2010

A celebration of bicycling comes to the city of Akron on Saturday, August 21, 2010, with three different events to meet the needs of all cycling interests and skill levels:
  • Rubber City Meltdown Criterium Race - a multi-lap race over a one-mile on a closed circut around the new Northside Lofts near Luigi's Restaurant.
  • The Blue Line Tour - Tour downtown Akron and the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including part of the Towpath Trail. The 23.5 mile course is a rolling, scenic tour of some of Akron's most beautiful destinations and winds through diverse neighborhoods, city highlights and historical landmarks throughout Akron.
  • Trail to Rail Adventure - Experience the ultimate family adventure. Meet in the Northside Neighborhood and bike to downtown Peninsula. Upon arrival board the train and enjoy a ride back on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in time to watch the criterium race.
Click on the event links above for more details and registration information.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Extreme Wheel Truing

This rear wheel came off a customer's bike recently in the Century Cycles store in Peninsula. This is what is referred to, in technical terms, as a "potato chip" (as opposed to a "taco," where the wheel would be folded completely in half).
This wheel is toast; it would need to be replaced no matter what. But, if you find yourself out on the road or trail with a wheel in this condition, you might be able to effect an emergency fix, as Derrick demonstrates in this video:

This technique is not recommended as a permanent fix, but in a pinch, as Derrick said, "it'll getcha' home."
After you do get home, stop in for a replacement wheel. We find, however, that to get a good-quality wheel requires a custom wheel-building job. Inexpensive pre-built replacement wheels are adequate for casual riders, but don't hold up for serious riders putting in lots of miles. High-end name brand wheels are light and fast, but aren't durable enough to stand up to heavy day-after-day use in commuting or long-distance touring situations.
This is where Century Cycles mechanics can come to the rescue with their custom wheel-building service. Tell us about how and where you're riding, and we'll select the right hubs, spokes, and rims to meet your needs.
We often keep a few of these hand-built wheels in stock for emergency replacements. These wheels use the following components:
  • Shimano Deore hubs - durable and easy to service with readily-available parts
  • Brass nipples and stainless steel spokes made by DT Swiss
  • 700C Salsa Delgado Cross rims - double-walled with spoke eyelets for extra durability

We usually build these wheels with either 32 or 36 spokes each. The front wheel is $94.99, and the rear wheel is $109.99 (compatible with 7-, 8-, 9-, or 10-speed Shimano or SRAM cassettes). Prices will vary with other component options. Call us to check what's currently available, or to ask about ordering your custom-built wheels!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Video from the NiteRider Demo Night Ride on the Towpath Trail

Perfect summer evening weather brought out almost 160 riders for our Night Ride on the Towpath Trail this past Saturday, August 7, 2010. This ride was sponsored by NiteRider Technical Lighting Systems, and Tommy from NiteRider drove their road rig to Peninsula to provide free demos of high-end bicycle headlights. Congratulations to Kevin Guthrie, who won the drawing for a free NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB headlight!

We've gone with video again to show you the highlights of the ride; enjoy!

Century Cycles and NiteRider present a Night Ride on the Towpath Trail - Aug. 7, 2010 from Kevin Madzia on Vimeo.

Photos were provided by Doug and Kevin from the Peninsula store.

Save The Dates!

We've got four remaining Night Rides on the Towpath Trail left for this season, including two SPECIAL events:
  • Friday, August 27, 2010
  • Saturday, September 18, 2010
  • Saturday, October 2, 2010 - a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland
  • Saturday, October 16, 2010 - kick-off Cleveland Beer Week in a way that only cyclists can, with a Night Ride followed by an exclusive keg-tapping at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula. Come dressed as your favorite beer! Contests and prizes!

As always, full details, including directions, about our Night Rides on the Towpath Trail can be found at: www.centurycycles.com/for/nightrides

More details on the special Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 rides will be coming soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Century Cycles voted West Shore's Best Bike Shop

We send a big, grateful THANK YOU to all the readers of West Shore/Live Well magazine for voting Century Cycles the area's Best Bike Shop in the annual "Best of the West" survey! We are proud to have won this award for the second year in a row -- ever since the bike shop category was added!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cleveland Scene: The Bicyclist's Guide to Cleveland

The cover story of this week's issue of the Cleveland Scene newspaper is author Vince Grzegorek's take on the current plight of being a cyclist in Cleveland. By the tongue-in-cheek tone of the piece, sometimes it's hard to tell whether it's supporting us or poking fun at us. But, however people are talking, at least they're talking, and as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. You can read the article online here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FREE NiteRider demo at this week's Night Ride on the Towpath Trail!

The weather may be hot this Saturday, August 7, 2010, but it will be one of the coolest nights of the year, as NiteRider Technical Lighting Systems brings their road rig back to Peninsula for our next Night Ride on the Towpath Trail! Don't want to take our word for it? Then read on CoolCleveland.com as they count the ways that a Night Ride on the Towpath is a cool thing to enjoy!

The fun begins at 6:00pm in the store parking lot, where we'll have the bike blender going to keep you refreshed as you sign up to demo NiteRider's latest high-performance bicycle lights, and register to win a FREE NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB headlight ($99.99 value)! The ride begins at 8:00pm as usual. See our press release for full details.

Just in time for our next Night Ride, we've received the latest models of headlights from NiteRider. In stock in all three of our stores now, we've got the NiteRider MiNewt Mini.150-USB, which takes the same features as the popular original MiNewt Mini-USB and ups the ante to 150 lumens of brightness, at a lower price ($89.99)! We've also got the NiteRider MiNewt.350 ($199.99) for those who need as much light as you can get in a lightweight package.

Coming within the next few days, we will have the new NiteRider MiNewt Mini.250 Cordless ($129.99), which combines all the benefits of LED lighting technology with USB-chargable Lithium-Ion batteries, all in a self-contained one-piece unit!
See our full selection of NiteRider bicycle lights at: www.centurycycles.com/get/niterider

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the news: Biker tweets for help, Towpath extends, two wheel travel

"NEED Help!": Mountain biker's Twitter followers call for ambulance. (USA Today)
Purchase of 11 acres in Flats will extend Towpath Trail.... (The Plain Dealer)
...and Towpath planners aren't done purchasing Flats property yet. (The Plain Dealer)
Four Corners, Two Wheels: A bike trip in the Southwest includes remote canyons, spectacularly empty roads, challenging climbs and, happily, strategically placed hotels. (New York Times)
Two-wheel drifters: Pedaling adventure along C&O Canal. (The Plain Dealer)
Michigan's coast is best by bicycle. (Chicago Tribune)
Top 5 ways to save the planet with bicycles. (How Stuff Works)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Giant Rapid 3 and Dash 3: Recommended by Consumer Reports!

The August 2010 issue of Consumer Reports magazine tested and evaluated budget-priced bikes, and the Giant Rapid 3 came out as one of the top recommended models in the fitness bicycle category!
We've got the Giant Rapid 3 in stock in the 2010 model, as well as the new 2011 model! The women's-specific version, the Giant Dash 3, is also available, in both the 2010 and 2011 models. Stop in for a test ride!
Also earning top ratings in the Comfort/Hybrid category were the Raleigh Detour 4.5 and the Electra Townie Sport 2200.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another touring cyclist in Peninsula

This is John; he's originally from Iowa, but started this bike trip in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He stopped by our Peninsula store on Thursday of this past week, looking for directions to the nearest campground. He was hauling quite a bit of gear on that trailer, which appeared to be mostly homemade, and jury-rigged with lots of hose clamps, zip ties, and various nuts and bolts.