Sunday, April 17, 2011

5 Tips: Getting Ready for a Night Ride

With our first ride of 2011 scheduled for this Saturday, April 23, Night Ride season is finally upon us! Century Cycles' Night Rides on the Towpath Trail in Peninsula have been popular events throughout the cycling season for 17 years, and have been featured in several news outlets, from local publications such as the Akron Beacon-Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer, to national magazines such as Bicycling Magazine and Bicycle Retailer and Industy News.

Never ridden on a Night Ride before? The 5 Tips below will help you get started, or provide some reminders to prepare for a new season of Night Rides even if you're a weathered veteran!

1. Make sure your bicycle is in good working order
If you have not had your annual tune-up, bring it in far enough in advance to get it back in time for the ride. On the evening or morning before the ride, pump your tires to the recommended level, and do a quick safety check to make sure your brakes and shifting are working properly.

2. Have a helmet and headlight
Helmets are mandatory on all Century Cycles Night Rides. Every rider must also have their own headlight. Any headlight will do; you don't need anything fancy. A camping-style headlamp is okay, as long as it can be adjusted to fit over or under your helmet. Even a flashlight duct-taped to your helmet or handlebar will work. A bicycle-specific headlight is the most convenient, and these are available for around $30 and up. A tail light can be used, but is not required. See our full selection of bike lights here.

3. Dress for the weather, wear layers for flexibility, and bring water
As with any outdoor activity, especially in the spring and fall when conditions can change quickly, dressing in layers gives you the ability to remove outer layers if you get too warm, or add them back on if it cools down. Using a cargo rack on your bike, or wearing a backpack, can be useful for having a place to store extra items of clothing when you're not wearing them. Staying hydrated during a ride is important in any weather. It's probably easiest to fill your water bottle(s) at home; otherwise, drinking water is available from the pop machines at the store, or from the drinking fountain at the Lock 29 Trailhead in Peninsula.

4. Check the weather forecast, and make your own informed decision whether or not to ride
If the weather looks questionable, you can call the store to see if the ride is still on. However, please remember that we are not Dick Goddard. We can look outside to see what's going on at any time during the day, but we can't predict any better than you can whether or not it's going to rain during the ride. If there's a chance of rain and you don't like to get wet, then don't ride. If you show up and find the ride has been cancelled, you are free to ride the trail on your own. If there's a light to moderate rain, there are usually at least a few hardy souls that will still ride. Heavy rain or thunderstorms will cancel the ride.

5. Arrive early enough to have plenty of time to get ready to ride
You'll need time to find a place to park. Parking at the Century Cycles lot is very limited; use on-street parking or the Lock 29 Trailhead parking lot if necessary. Then, you'll need time to change into your riding clothes, unload your bike, sign a waiver (if it's your first Night Ride of the year -- more on that below), and do a last-minute double-check of your bike tires, brakes, etc. If you need any accessories or mechanical help, the store is usually open until the ride starts, but please be reasonable--we won't have the time for major repairs, and we don't want to delay the start of the ride for the dozens of other participants. No pre-registration is necessary for Night Rides and they are FREE as always, but you will also need to sign a waiver before your first Night Ride, which will then be good for the entire Night Ride season. Most importantly, arriving early gives you plenty of time to introduce yourself, socialize with the other riders, and HAVE FUN. That's what it's all about!

NOTE: When we shared this article in our April eNewsletter, Dick DeLombard (below) emailed us to suggest Tip #6: Do not bring your high wheel bicycle unless your headlight is far brighter than any others, otherwise it's very hard to see the edge of the Towpath. So high-wheel-riders, consider yourselves tipped (and thanks, Dick)!

Remember, a Night Ride on the Towpath Trail is meant to be a casual, fun ride; it's not a race. Some Type-A groups of people end up making it a race on their own, but you can ignore them! We'll announce the turn-around point before the start of the ride. If you are in the middle of the ride and feel like you are running out of steam, feel free to turn back at any point on your own; you'll probably pass other like-minded souls!

See for complete details on our Night Rides on the Towpath Trail, including the current schedule and directions to the store. With 11 dates to choose from and the price being very right (FREE!), we hope you can join us for one this year!

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