Alum Creek Trail

 

I was in Columbus, OH and had a bit of time so I checked a map and found a promising bike trail along Alum Creek, aptly named Alum Creek Trail. I parked in Wolfe Park and randomly headed north. The trail was paved and crossed Alum Creek several times. I was able to spot a variety of wildlife including turtles, heron and deer. One of the deer was a large buck; I counted 8 points.

When I rode the trail in July, 2021 there was some construction adjacent to the trail. It appeared they were working on a water line. The trail was open despite the construction. Some of the equipment was noisy but it didn't seem to bother the wildlife.

There were plenty of signs for wayfinding, overview maps, safety information and historical information. I only covered about 7 miles of trail but found several porta potties, a bike repair station and other amenities. I turned around at the CESA Soccer Fields across the creek from Champions Golf Course. I would have liked to explore the entire 25 miles of the trail plus many of the connecting trails.

More information about the trail may be found on the city’s website.  You can also watch a video of my ride on my YouTube channel, Mark’s Bike Tock.

















Bicycle Haven


Bicycle Haven is a bike shop founded by Craig Morrow in 1996. This is no ordinary bike shop. Craig started collecting vintage and collectible bikes. By 2011 Bicycle Haven relocated to their current location at 1800 Preble Ave, Pittsburg. The collected bikes have been put on display akin to a museum. The number of bikes makes it impossible to properly display each to create a true museum experience. Bicycles are lined up so close together that most must have their pedals removed to save space. Additional bikes are displayed on the walls and even the ceiling.

There are vintage bikes, antique bikes, prototype bikes, historic bikes, and bikes used in movies. There are nearly 6,000 bikes on display. All this in a working bike shop with an incredible inventory of parts both new and vintage. They also sell bike themed memorabilia.

If you like antiques, history, movie props or just remembering childhood memories there is something for you. Cycling enthusiasts might experience it not as Bicycle Haven but rather Bicycle Heaven.  If you want to go, as of my visit they were open 7 days a week. There is no charge to visit but they do accept donations.

For more information visit their website bicyclehaven.org or look for them on Facebook. See a video of my walk through on Mark's Bike Tock.

Bicycle Haven is the world’s largest bicycle museum and has been highlighted on the likes of the New York Times, the Associated Press, MSN and they even have a Wikipedia entry.


























Oh, Shift is a reference to Canton Ave, Pittsburg




Wheeling Heritage Trail

 

I was driving to Xenia, OH for a cycling vacation. I planned a stop at about the halfway point, Wheeling, WV. With my bike on the car and never checking off WV from my list of states biked this was the perfect time to do so. The Wheeling Heritage Trail is actually two trails, one along the Ohio River and another along the Wheeling Creek.

I started my ride at the riverfront park in the downtown. I randomly chose to go south from there. This southern segment was only a couple of miles, passing some light industry and the requisite sewage treatment plant. It was a reminder that I was in the heart of the rust belt. At the end I turned around a returned to my starting point and continued north.

This northern portion of the trail was much nicer. I passed some residential areas and much of the way had a nice tree buffer. On area had a pleasant looking campground between the trail and the river. A bit further north the trail was parallel to a busy road but set sufficiently away from the road to feel safe from the traffic.

I passed Pike Island locks where barges still make their way along the river. In fact, barges were seen in most places where the river was visible from the trail. I headed a bit further north but ran out of time and did not make it to the dam at Clearview.

The trail was paved on the section I rode, and the asphalt was in excellent condition. I viewed lots of wildlife including rabbits, woodchuck, and deer. All the animals seemed to have juveniles making for a pleasant ride.

Judging by the section I rode I would not consider this a destination trail but if you happen to be in the area it is a nice, relaxing ride.  If you are interested in history there are interpretive signs that tell many stories of the area's past.

More information about the trail may be found at the Wheeling City website

A video of my ride can be found on my YouTube Channel, Mark's Bike Tock.










Canton Avenue

 

If you have not heard of it, Canton Av is the steepest public street in the US. It is also one of the steepest in the world. Many cyclists measure their mettle by trying to climb it. I was passing through Pittsburg, PA with my bike on the car so I thought I would give it a shot.

As I was driving toward the location I was wondering if I would have the leg strength and the cardio endurance to make the hill. I found it, put my helmet on and climbed on my bike. I got a bit of momentum prior to the start of the hill and up I went. After a very short distance my momentum was gone and it was all me. I quickly realized I would have both the power and the cardio to do it except… I did not consider how hard it would be to keep the front wheel on the ground.

I am a Clydesdale making things very top heavy. I also ride with flat handlebars in an upright posture making things worse. My weight meant I had to put additional force on the pedals creating more torque on the back wheel. The combination of these things made it nearly impossible to keep from flipping back over the rear wheel. I let up a bit on the pedal force and it helped but I immediately slowed to nearly a stop. Then the front tire hit the first cobblestone.

The street is paved with asphalt for the first part then the remainder is a type of cobblestone. These stones were shaped like bricks with a sharp edge. This sharp edge is situated up so it grips car tires much like coarse snow tire treads grip the pavement in bad weather. The first sharp edge was all it took to completely lift the front of my bike.

Stopping the bike on the extreme incline was no easy task. It wasn’t graceful or pretty, but I managed to keep from falling. Good thing because if I fell backward, I would not stop when I was horizontal, the ground is still lower.

So, I was not successful, but I feel confident that I had the power and the cardio, the hill is short. If I were lighter with drop bar handlebars, I am convinced I could have done it. If I get back to Pittsburg with my bike maybe I will try again with some weights secured to the front fork.







Clydesdale

 

I am a Clydesdale. This means my weight exceeds 200 lbs. The exact weight to be considered a Clydesdale may vary and you sometimes even hear different terms, Longhorn or Shamu for example. On the female side the terms are Athena, Fillie or Amazon. Athena is the most common. Women in excess of 150 or 160 lbs would fall into this moniker.

Some cyclists like myself have some difficulty finding cycling kits that fit. I just wear regular street clothes such a jeans or shorts. For tops I look for t-shirts designed for athletic use, generally moisture wicking. These are much more affordable that cycling specific clothes and work for me just fine. I have tried padded shorts and did not care for them, but everyone is different.

As for a bike I can only relate my experience. I ride Giant and have not had any issues with frames. If you are significantly larger than the cutoff you may run into trouble. My experience has been with wheels. The rear wheel caries most of the weight and this is where problems arise. Front wheels are not generally a problem. The first problem is usually breaking spokes. After a time, this gets to be a more frequent problem. The short-term fix is to have the wheel relaced with heavier gauge spokes. Spokes not only come in different lengths but also different thicknesses. This will work for a while but over time the rim will develop cracks.

A wheel with more spokes will help since the distance between spokes will be less. Also, the tension in each spoke decreases since some of the weight is being carried by adjacent spokes. Wheels with 32 or 36 spokes would be a minimum.

Of course, the materials and construction of the hubs and hoop are also important. Consider where you ride. You don’t want to get stranded miles from help, possibly with no cell service. Don’t skimp on quality.

If you are concerned about weight, remember this difference will be a tiny fraction of the total weight of the bike and you. If you still obsess with bike weight you can get tapered spokes. Spokes tend to break at either end. This is where you need thickness and some spokes are made thicker at the ends and thinner in the middle.

Some wheels are specifically made for touring when you carry a lot of gear on the bike with you. These wheels would be a consideration for a Clydesdale or Athena. Another option is a wheel built for a tandem bike. These also are designed for more weight capacity.

If you have the bucks, you can get a bike custom built to your needs. Some companies specialize in bikes for Clydesdales.  Bikeclydesdale/Zinncycles comes to mind but there are others. I don’t have such a bike so you will need to go elsewhere for reviews.

Virgin River Trail

 I was on my way to an organized ride in and around Bryce and Zion National Parks. I flew into St George, UT a day early for several reasons. I was concerned about flight hiccups making me late for the tour. Arriving early also allowed me to get acclimated to the local weather. As I usually do I planned on spending the day cycling the area on my own. I didn't rent a car but the local bike shop was about a mile from my hotel and they had bikes for rent. I walked to the shop and was able to rent a hybrid that fit me. I was off.

Traillink indicated some trails not far from my hotel. I quickly located the Virgin River Trail. This is an asphalt trail traversing desert like terrain but along the Virgin River. This was not the usual rail-trail I ride most often. Most important difference was the relentless Sun. This combined with the triple digit summer like temperatures (late May of 2014) meant water was a huge consideration. I had two bottles with me figuring it was only going to be a short ride. That was not nearly enough. Fortunately the trail winds near human development and I was able to get additional water at a convenience store. 

There were several other trails that connected as a spur and even a loop and I lost track where each trail began and ended. As a result some of the pictures below may be other nearby trails that connect to the Virgin River Trail.