Hello, 4700!

Just last week, I was aiming to get to 4600 miles. The weather was starting to get cold… down to 30 degrees at night… and I figured I was winding down for the season. I decided to skip the Red Flannel ride on November 2nd because the morning was much too cold. Instead, I rode the final 40 miles to 4600 down in the valley later that afternoon when it had warmed up. I figured I was probably done after that. I was going to put my bike on the trainer after that weekend.

But then, the week days were moderate. I logged another 40 miles between the Tuesday and Thursday night rides with ABC. And then, this past Saturday. Beautiful weather befell NE Ohio. I had planned to ride at least 40 miles. But as I was getting my bike ready to ride around 12pm, it suddenly occurred to me how fortunate I was that the weather was so beautiful this late in November. A funny idea came to my mind…. How about your route to Hiram on this fine day? my mind urged. And, well, the next thing I knew, I was headed off down my favorite roads to Hiram–Old Mill, Mennonite, Chamberlain, Winchell. Straight through the tiny town of Hiram Rapids, past the old church, and up the big hill on 700 into my old ‘hood of Hiram College. I went up the street past my old dorm, though Bankcroft and Dean past the post office… Ahh.. Beautiful weather. I refilled my water bottle in Hinsdale Hall and sat underneath the arch for about 20 minutes remembering my life as a student over 15 years ago.

I then rode on down 306 to Wheeler Road, past the Hiram College Biology Station. Into Garrettsville. The backroads–Hankee, Asbury, then 303 to Cooley.  Gray, Peck, and the beautiful–if not bumpy–Lake Rockwell Road. I felt so good riding. It had been several weeks since I’d ridden more than 40 miles; I was surprised I still had a 60 mile ride in me. It must have been the weather that filled me with the inspiration to keep going. I just wanted to ride and ride and ride.

From door-to-door, my route to Hiram and back is 60 miles. Since I was so close, I figured I mine as well complete a metric century. So once I got into my neighborhood, I rode an extra 2 miles to get that 62-mile ride. The ride secured me a 4700 miles for the year. A new record–beyond the 4600 mile record I initially set–that I’m going to be hard-pressed to beat next year. Oh well. How grand!

So. I don’t know exactly how many days I have left to ride. I’m definitely in bonus round. It could snow tomorrow and I’d take out my skis. I don’t care what happens now, but I’m so glad that I’ve managed to pull in this many miles this year. I am not going to make it to 5000, but I’m sure proud I’ve made it this close. I just don’t know where I get all this energy.

It’s days like Saturday that make me feel so good to be alive. The entire time I was riding, I couldn’t help but think about how fortunate I was to enjoy such unusual November weather. A rare treat. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved jersey and I felt so comfortable in the warmth of the sun. You just can’t let days like that pass you by. I ignored some errands I had to run and I shirked the writing I wanted to do. But in exchange I got wonderful peace of mind. Pretty soon the winter weather will be upon us, and though I can ski, I can’t ski every night. The last bit of warmth is a rare treasure to appreciate. It’s a memory I can hold onto in the dark, cold of winter until I can ride again.

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Ride to Work Season

I rode to work this morning, which is the second time I’ve been able to do so this year (the first time being last week). Have I mentioned how much I love to ride to work? If not, here it is for the record: I absolutely *LOVE* the freedom of riding my bike to work. It’s invigorating exercise that accomplishes both a morning workout and the act of transporting yourself to where you need to go. I feel energized all day at work; I have the ride home to look forward to. It makes me feel much more motivated to be here. Endorphins are SssSoooooooOOO good!

This morning it was a little damp out from what I assume was a rainfall in the early morning. The pavement was half wet and half dry. The smell of wet dirt, leaves, and trees filled my nose on the bike path and down Truxell Road, triggering some distant memories of Girl Scout camp for some reason. I was in a thoughtful happy place. It was divine.

Because I was on Beau, and I could, I took the tow path from Peninsula to Boston Mills Road. A rare treat to only pass two other people on the trail, both walking dogs and coming at me in the opposite direction. The Cuyahoga River shimmered in the breaking sun. The stillness of the woods was broken ever few minutes by the scampering of little creatures. I am so lucky to live beside such a beautiful national park.

There is still some snow on “Mt. Boston Mills,” struggling to maintain itself against the warmer day, and losing the battle. I look every day to see how much more is gone and I await the time I pass and there are no white-brown patches left. That will signal to me that spring has finally come and summer is nigh.

Beau’s only fault is his weight as I lug him up Snowville Road. My ascent is slower–or so it seems–than when I’m on Black Beauty but as TDB points out, who’s in a hurry to get to work?

I don’t know if I will get to ride to work any more times this week as spring rains are promised and the cooler temperatures may return. I am thankful, however, to have had this day. There’s plenty of summer ahead and more chances to enjoy my commute to work.

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I feel like a vampire

Two days in a row of riding my bike after work. In the dark. And, on the days when I didn’t ride my bike, I emerged from the office building to total darkness. I’m starting to feel like a vampire. Really.

Well, maybe not really. I don’t have a craving for blood or anything. In fact, I’m the last person on the planet who would be looking for blood, being that I’ve been known to faint at the mere description of a particularly gory accident. So I’d make a crappy vampire.

Maybe I feel more like a mole. Are moles nocturnal?

Anyway, there’s something really surreal about this time of the year, especially when sticking to the ride schedule with my bike club. It’s like we’re holding onto the cycling season with clenched hands.

Darkness comes at 5pm? Ha! We have big bright LED Lithium-Ion lights, blinking tail lights, and clothes that reflect.

Cold weather? Ha! We have all the right kind of clothes. Thicker bike tights. We’re ready!

But nothing beats how weird it is to ride at night. It can be scary because you can only see so far ahead of you, no matter how bright your light is, and there are a lot of hidden dangers that force you to be even more aware of your environment than you are during the day. It can also be kind of exciting because the world is so different at night. Quieter. You can hear more of the world–scurrying animals, trees dropping limbs, dogs barking, cars way off in the distance. There’s even a general “static” of noise. The general sound of civilization, I suppose.

Cars approaching from behind can be seen a long way off. Their headlights are the like the eyes of dragons lurking in my rear view mirror. They are almost more dangerous to us cyclists at night, despite our being all lit up with our bright lights, because they are expecting cyclists on the road even less during the night than they would during the day.

I just can’t convey the whole surreal experience of my nocturnal musings. I get into a kind of funky zone mentally at this time of year. I spend all my daylight hours indoors so I feel like all my quality waking hours are done once the sun has gone down. Not even the endorphin kick I get from cycling can pump up my mood. Now is the seasons of hibernation; or, rather, battling the primal urge to hibernate.

Happy Halloween from the Wicked Witch of NEO

Though for me it will be just another day. I’m probably going to a wine tasting and then meeting up for dinner with a cycling friend. Not passing out candy to the little brats* who live on my street… even if they don’t walk through my yard anymore… I think I’m the neighborhood pariah because I’m the only single girl…No one ever talks to me here and the kids last year approached like I was the Wicked Witch of Northeast Ohio. Plus, there’s something just creepy, to me, about being a single girl without kids passing out candy to the neighborhood kids. I wondered if the parents–who also approached slowly and tentatively–thought there was something weird about me too.

I know I sound paranoid, but I know how neighborhoods are. I’m the misfit and everyone seems to know each other, all stay-at-home moms with their kids. I guess it’s all good, though, because I don’t have people bugging me to talk when I’m out in my yard. Still, it would be nice if once in awhile someone with a snow plow offered to plow my drive when they see my out there shoveling, like they do with some of the other neighbors.

A relationship is built both ways, though. I suppose I could go out of my way to be friendly. It’s just really hard for me to go out of my comfort zone like that. I’m good in large groups of people where I don’t have to do all the talking to keep a conversation going. It’s when I’m left trying to come up with things to say to someone that I sound weird and desperate. I know I fail at building relationships with people sometimes… But I just get lazy because I have enough friends to whom I no longer have to prove myself.

Anyway, I just don’t have the spirit this year. This was really Mike’s holiday. I just can’t get into it anymore. But I hope everyone else is having a great time!

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* Mothers and fathers who read my blog: Please understand that my use of the word “brat” here is tongue-in-cheek. I do generally like kids. I just feel uncomfortable around them. Like a big dork. And I’m not very good at interacting with them. Some of the kids in my neighborhood, however, really are brats. Especially when their parents haven’t taught them how rude it is to walk through people’s yards (in fact, when I first moved here, some of the adults walked through my yard). I was taught better behavior as a child and I never walked through other people’s yards, even when the other kids I was playing with did it.

A hopeless situation

I was so proud of myself last Sunday. Instead of riding my bike or going out or doing anything equally as distracting, I actually stayed home and mowed my lawn. I spent a few hours raking leaves on the side of the yard on which it was hopeless to try to run the mower on and then mowed it too. My backyard, surprisingly, did not have many leaves and I was able to just shred what was there with the mower. Of the leaves I did rake, I moved them to the edges of my yard by the street for the city leaf-pickup. I usually never get my leaves raked in time for any of those dates. My yard looked like I actually stay home enough to care about it. It almost looked as pristine as my neighbors.

But then, I got home today and took a good look at my front yard and realized…

THEY’RE BACK!!!

 

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Driveway

 

And they’ve reproduced…

 

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But wait! There’s more! When I went to my back patio to cook my dinner on the grill (a salmon patty — yum!), my eyes popped out of my head when I realized that I could see NO GRASS in my back yard…

 

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This is way too much work for one woman alone…

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I’ll be out there for days just trying to clear this up. I now know why having a yard with trees is not quite as delightful as one would think…

I can’t leave them there. Last year, I didn’t rake a single leaf. I figured, “Hey, this is nature. This is what nature does. I’m respecting the environment.”

But then this year, I had to really nurse my lawn back into health. Not that my backyard lawn is all that healthy. But I know I can’t leave this many leaves on the ground like this.

Ugh. I need a housing association. Condo life was so much nicer…

Sometimes a photographer

I thought I’d get my new blog site off to a good start by showing my half-baked attempts at photography during the last several weeks. Yeah. These never quite come out the way I hope. I’m great at turning a spectacular bit of scenery into a flat and lifeless image.

Here are some attempts at being artsy… I actually have one of these as my desktop picture on my home computer… though, it’s a bit loud, making the icons hard to see.

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Leaves, close up…

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The cross-country trail by Pine Lane trailhead…

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Ohio skis–clouds and blue.

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This tree just looked cool.

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And, of course, scenic overlook of my favorite place in the Cuyahoga Valley, the aforementioned Pine Lane trailhead off of Quick Road.

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It was a rainy day when I took the last two; thus, the hazy appearance. I kept hoping I’d take better fall pictures, but alas, I missed the prime season. I’ll have to post a link to the rest of the pictures. I got a few in the corn maze at Szalay’s the day I decided to do the corn maze after a hike.

Happy Late Autumn, everyone! I guess it’s time for me to “turn over a new leaf” with my blog. Har, har.

Undiscovered towpath

Today I did something I haven’t done in awhile: I actually purposely went for a ride on the towpath. I decided I wanted to try a southern part of the route on which I’d never gone. Back in the day, before I became an obsessed road cyclist and mileage Nazi, when I had a trail bike, I would ride the towpath. I’ve pretty much covered the area between Peninsula and Independence. Now that I have Beau, I’ve decided I’m no longer better than a ride on the towpath.

Michael and I headed out to Barberton and decided to ride south about 20 miles or so, and then turn around. If we’d had more time (daylight fades quickly these days), we could have done the last six or so miles to Massillon. This route took us through Clinton and Canal Fulton. It was a chilly, cloud-covered afternoon. The leaves are starting to change, but the colors were not yet as full as I’d hoped. Perhaps another week or two will yield the bright collage of color I excitedly anticipate each fall.

There’s a park in Clinton where a blue heron apparently has nested. I saw it (or a different one) earlier this June when we came through town on the tandem weekend ride. I managed to find it again and get a shot.


When I stopped to take the picture, a whole flock of ducks waddled over to me, making all sorts of ducky noises. I believe they were begging for food. If only I had known! I love to feed ducks; I think they are the cutest of the water fowl (and much more pleasant than geese). I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad, though; these ducks were kind of plump. I think they’re probably suckering plenty of food from animal lovers like me.


Another shot of the pond (or “lake”) in the park in Clinton.


Canal Fulton’s leg of the canal is still nicely maintained with working locks and a canal boat pulled by horses that you can ride on. I was disappointed that I apparently just missed a demonstration of canal boat passing along this leg. One of these days, I’d like to be around as they are doing rides, recreating the way boats would pass through the canals prior to the early 1900s when the canal system became nonoperational (I heard a flood caused the end of the Erie canal).

Michael at the trail head in Barberton. Recognize the bike? That’s the Beast! Michael adopted the Beast from me when I bought Beau. He’s put fenders on it. It looks pretty good. We rode a pretty fast pace together and ended with a 14.3 average. At points during the ride, we were clipping along at 16-17mph. I think the Beast is in good hands now.

We finished with 40 miles. I found myself eager to try more southern sections of the towpath–maybe start from Clinton and aim for Navarre or something. We had trouble finding on the internet distances to each town along the towpath. Right now the towpath goes all the way down to Bolivar, which seems to me like that might be a ways off since it’s in Tuscarawas County.

It also would be cool to go north from Barberton into Akron. Everyone keeps talking about this new floating bridge… Now with Beau, I’m aiming to do all the sections of the towpath just to see what they are like. The nice thing about fall is that there aren’t so many people riding on the towpath… in midsummer, it can be a nightmare of people… It’s kind of annoying when you constantly have to position yourself to pass slower moving “traffic” and kids swerving all over the place in erratic paths as they ride. Some parts of the towpath are actually kind of narrow in comparison to the usual width of a bike/hike path.

On spring in NE Ohio

Yesterday–Beautiful warm evening, 65 degrees; the first time riding this year where I felt completely comfortable in shorts and short sleeve jersey (though I did wear arm warmers). Slammed a 16mph average (very rare) and enjoyed a short-lived victory as I pulled out ahead of all the guys for about a mile before we hit the hill below the Deep Lock Quarry parking lot. Sweet night of riding, feeling good. Almost like a cooler summer day.

Today–Rain, rain, rain. Fortunately, a “warm” rain at about 50-something degrees.

Weekend–Rain, wind, 50ish degrees. April showers bring May flowers? Baaah!

Next week–Temperature drop. Snow showers predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday. No sun in sight. Boo!!

I hate spring. Summer is my favorite. Fall, though variant weather like spring, at least offers the distraction of the colorful collage of leaves. And, anyway, the cool down is kind of nice and the energy of the season inspiring. Winter, you get used to it. I have skiing so it’s not so bad, but by February, you’re ready to be done. When spring comes, you’re just hungry for summer; the nice weather taunts. A cock-tease.

Once I put the good back tire on, I’m ready to ride like crazy all over the place… NEO weather has other plans. I’ll hold onto the hope that the weatherman is wrong and the clouds will part, bringing sun and more cycling adventure.

Day Two in the Maelstrom of The Cold

This recent outbreak of The Cold has made me sufficiently tired enough that I desire to remain immobile for long periods of time in the evening, unlike my usual multi-tasking habit of watching TV and jumping up to do dishes, clean the kitchen from the havoc of making dinner, or check e-mail at the commercial breaks. Therefore, I am finally starting to catch up on the overflow of Heroes episodes in my DVR queue. I kind of got too busy to watch them when they are actually on, even though the show comes on immediately after Gossip Girl and I always find time to watch that. I guess I had temporarily lost interest in Heroes for a time there. I don’t know why; sometimes I just become bored with a TV show after the newness of it wears off.

Anyway, I’m starting to get back into the series, watching 2 or 3 at a pop in the evening as I just lay on my couch, sneezing and coughing everything out of my lungs. It’s weird, too, because usually even when I’m in front of the TV, I’d doing something else like writing a letter or looking through catalogs or mail. It’s a rare show that causes me to focus 100% of my attention on it (Battlestar Galactica being one of them). I managed to get myself all the way to the episode where an eclipse is taking place and all of the people with powers–heroes and villains alike–have lost their powers. If you watch the show avidly, and have actually been keeping up, then you know where I’m at, don’t spoil it for me, I still have a month of viewing to get through.

Speaking of being so far behind, it’s kind of funny as I fast-forward through all the commercials to see the campaign ads for the long-gone election now. We’ve moved on to the next thing, but my DVR has locked me in a time capsule. It is definitely nicer that I don’t have to listen to the commercials, which is a clear advantaged to not watching TV shows live. I know a lot of people don’t watch their shows live anymore and I understand why. Sometimes I feel depressed watching recordings instead of live TV, though, especially if I’m feeling lonely–I feel disconnected with the world. Not that much TV is truly “live” anymore.

I tried to finish writing a letter to Sarah last night, but I found that higher orders of thought, those required for writing anything interesting in a letter, were completely missing as I battled a war for solace with my running nose and achy head and hacking lungs. Once I decided that trying to think was fruitless, I dosed myself with NiQuil and thus faded into slumberland sometime around 9:30.

I woke up several times throughout the night, coughing like a machine gun. It’s so frustrating when you get caught up in one of these fits. As soon as it started, I was stuck in a vicious coughing loop because I kept getting that tickle in the back of my throat–the one that feels as though you just swallowed a mouthful of dust. My coughing made that annoying honking sound (much like Canadian geese) that my serious coughs always make. I was glad for once that I didn’t live with anyone who I’d be keeping up (and thus kicked out of bed to room into the solitary confinement of another room). My cat Nicki didn’t seemed too concerned by the noise as she took the opportunity of me being awake as a sign that it was now time for her to begin petting me. And she wasn’t taking no for an answer. She kept sitting on my head and returning moments later after I’d swattered her away.

Needless to say, I did wake up to my alarm, but I switched it to radio, as is my habit, so that I could listen myself awake. Only that didn’t work and I ended up pulling myself out of a coma at 7:30am, which is way later than I sleep on week days, so I had to hustle. No morning workout. I arrived at work, in a dazed haze, at 9–about a half hour later than usual. I’ve been in the same dazed haze all morning, working in a slovenly manner on this document due Friday now that my boss has reviewed it.

I finally had sense enough to get one of boxes of tissue out of the storage closet and take it to my desk. Repeated trips to the one box in the kitchen was getting tiresome. (Especially since there was a tupperware container full of fudge and a cheesecake someone had specifically brought in for everyone. I had three finger-sized pieces of fudge–one chocolate, one butterscotch, and one peanut butter. Yum.)

I am going to try to be a little more mobile tonight. I’ve got some things I need to do around the house. The one errand I did manage to complete last night was running out to the Time Warner office in Akron to exchange my modem out. I was skeptical, but they technicians claimed the reason my internet kept going down was my modem. When I installed the new one at home, my internet went right up and it appears to have solved the problem (my internet had been down for two days at that point). So we’ll just have to wait and see if it stays up. It’s a good thing I was sick the last two days because I can’t stand not having my internet up. I use it quite frequently at home (during said commercial breaks as I have to check email or look up some website on a whim). I don’t know when I got so addicted to the internet, but I swear that if I had to give up one of my luxury utilities, cable service on the TV would go before I’d give up my fast internet connection, that’s for sure. I need information, I need it quickly, and I need my email!

It’s a good thing the weather isn’t gorgeous outside because all this laying around makes me feel less bad. I’d much rather have a cold during the winter when I can’t ride anyway. If you remember, the last time I had a cold in the summer (in July 2007), I made myself ride anyway. The cold I had before this was during the tail-end of the cycling season. During the last couple days of the cold, I did the Red Flannel Metric Century. I think it made me feel better to ride, actually. I’m not sure I could ride today, though, feeling like I do right now. My reaction time is slow and I just can’t imagine trying to pump the pedals of my bike on a road with the stimulus of cars to watch out for. The cold in my lungs wouldn’t feel too great either.

I have to say the gray day sure matches my mood. I think the last time I saw the sun was Saturday. This blog is going to become a way to record when the sun was last seen in Ohio. Instead of a cycling counter, I should have “____ Many Days Since the Sun Was Out.” I seriously wonder how long it could go on. Gray day followed by early dark. I can’t wait to pass Dec. 21–the shortest day–and just move over the big hump of winter into the days getting longer again. January and February in NE Ohio sucks. I don’t know how we indigenous people do it. It must be in our genes to take the suffering in stride. We’re all masochists living here.

I know, I know. I bitch too much. I should just shut up since I chose to move back. “Poop or get off the pot,” my fifth grade math teacher used to say. If I don’t like it here, I should leave; or if I stay, but quit bitching about it. I can think of every cliche: I made my bed so I will lie in it.

Moonlight ride

After work last night, I donned my biking clothes and a yellow vest, fastened my little Mininewt onto the handlebars of my hybrid, and I took off into the night. What a beautiful, magical night to ride. The weather was unseasonably warm–about 60 degrees when I started and 56 towards the end of the ride. The moon was just coming out as I made my way onto the Stow Bikeway, rising orange and huge above the horizon.

I hadn’t actually ridden on that section of the Stow Bikeway in a long time, probably not since Mike and I had our trail bikes and before that path was paved. I decided to see where it goes since I’d forgotten and, really, I think it had ended Young Road. I discovered this path that I never knew was there called the Franklin Connector, which meets up on Young Road on the opposite side of the street where the Summit County Bike & Hike Trail begins. Wow! What a treat! New bike path, in dark by only the beaming light of my LED and the moon.

I was alone on the path and it was such a shame because it was such a nice night. It’s too bad more people don’t realize the fun of cycling at night. It’s a whole different experience. As the Franklin Connector brought me through a valley, I heard the braying of what I think was a buck in heat, but I’m not sure (being that I’m not too familiar with deer and the noises they make). It was a moaning sound that one could envision Big Foot making (maybe it was Big Foot). It was eerie and mysterious–completely one of those moments that you can only get by venturing out on a bike trail in the dark.

The Franklin Connector ends at Hudson Road, so I just continued north up the road to Ravenna Road. These roads are quiet enough that I felt safe riding them at night. Equipped as I was with my front and tail lights and wearing bright colors, I figured I would give traffic ample opportunity to see me. The night was too nice to just stop riding, especially since I knew that the weekend was supposed to bring rain and colder temperatures. It was my one window of opportunity this late in November and I was going to milk the experience for all that it was worth.

It’s been a long time since I rode my hybrid on the streets. With Century Cycle’s top-notch tune-up, my hybrid was finally performing more righteously than ever. The gears shifted smoothly and my seat stayed in place when I sat on it. One thing I did notice about this bike, after all my time in the saddle of my road bike, is that the gears are generally lower. I found that most of the time, even up slight inclines, I could use my gears in the big ring. I think I determined that the big ring on the hybrid is about the same as my middle ring on the road bike. This means that my road bike actually has higher gears for faster speeds and that I would probably have to coast on my hybrid down hills that I can still spin with on my Giant. I obviously didn’t need to use my granny gears on this ride, but then, I didn’t really do any difficult hills, though I was really tempted when I circled back later down Barlow Road to go all the way down Truxell Road and come back up. However, by the time I was on Barlow Road, I was pushing 8 o’clock and I had somewhere to be at 9.

I took Ravenna Road into Hudson, then turned south on 91 to Terex Road. I then took Terex to Barlow, then Sullivan, and finally finished on the Summit County Bike & Hike back to some side streets in Stow that eventually get me back over to my house (the same side streets on which some jackass threw garbage at me when I was riding to my 3,000 mile mark several weeks back; fortunately, I didn’t get any of that on this ride). I dismounted my trusty bike-steed in my driveway thoroughly satisfied and not even that depressed that my average was 13.5. I see now that speed really is a function of the bike you ride in large part because each type of bike is just geared differently. My hybrid, though, is a great bike to ride on a fall evening when you don’t know what you’re going to encounter on the road and you want to hold your speed back a little because you can only see as far ahead as your light goes. Last night, I was just really itching to ride, since I hadn’t ridden since Nov. 2, and it just felt good to be out with the slight chill in the wind pinching my cheeks. My hybrid performed beautifully and I think it is going to get some more riding time with me in this fall/winter season.

One thing I’m going to have to do, however, is buy another bike pump. I realized several miles into the ride that while I had a spare inner tube on me, I hadn’t brought a pump to inflate it with should I need to. I think I will buy another RoadMorph, and then put the new one and its mount on my Giant, and switch out the older one to my hybrid.

I think I’m going to have to buy some Speedplay Frogs (clipless pedals) for the hybrid as well. I thought that I could get along with the toe clips and wearing sneakers on this bike, but I think I’m just a little too used to the whole experience of having my foot strapped securely to the pedal. It would probably reduce some of the weight of the hybrid as well.

I’m totally going to remove the kick-stand. It’s annoying and it rattles somethings when I go over a bump or pothole. It adds weight too. Not that I care about weight on this heavy cro-molly bike, but, you know, the loss of some weight never hurt anyone.

I think I realize now the benefit of having carbon forks. My hybrid, though heavier and more beefy in comfort, doesn’t seem to absorb shock as well as my road bike. I was surprised that going over bumps was more rattling and bumpy on the hybrid (I would have thought the complete opposite would be true). Maybe if I replaced the front forks with aluminum forks, as Derrick from CC suggested when I picked up my bike, it would help. Though, I am not sure I want to spend hundreds of dollars improving a bike I ride less than 5% of my cycling season. Still, it is a little tempting. I think this is how real bike geeks are born–those who own multiple bikes and all of them are self-improved from their base model. I have to admit, I have a temptation to purchase a few more bikes–one of those antique single-gear retro-styled ones for fun (maybe a real antique restored) and another higher end road bike…

I think I decided last night on two new nicknames for my bikes: the Beauty for my Giant, and the Beast for the hybrid. Awhile ago, I started thinking of my Giant as “Black Beauty” due to her black paint scheme and the fact that she is my trusty two-wheeled steed. It only seems fitting to call my hybrid the Beast to align with another literary reference. Bikes, like most vehicles, seem to have their own personalities and my Giant sure acts the prima donna, high maintenance part while my hybrid, the Beast, waits patiently as I preen over the Beauty, knowing that someday I would return to ride her as well. To each bike its own merits and, after last night, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is still fun to ride the Beast from time to time. I might even be willing to go “toodling” along some bike path with my less obsessed cycling friends, too.

There’s a bike for every occasion. Maybe me and the Beast can go explore some of the many bike paths that exist in Ohio now due to the rails-to-trails initiative. Poking around the internet, I’m learning there’s a lot more bike paths in Ohio than I thought. I dream of the day that they link them all together so that eventually, I can just hop on my bike and ride to, say, Columbus for a weekend trip via a bike path. This is the mentality they have in Europe. People just take off for weekend holidays on their bikes. I would love it if the American culture could change to a more healthy attitude. Instead of one-tank trips, we could have pedal-trips…