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…