Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Bike Ride

After a week of rain, thunderstorms, and even tornadoes, we finally had a great day for riding today. The number of people out on road through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was astonishing, as every bicyclist in the area decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. Sunny, light breeze, and 60ish degrees.

The storms of the past week left a lot of damage in the valley. The amount of water that came down in the storms was record-setting, but it is always worse in the valley, as all the water and runoff from all the surrounding areas cascades into the valley, wreaking havoc on the hillsides, pulling debris down to the river and to the roads that skirt both sides of it. It was pretty clear that some parts of the roads were well under water at one point. Not only that, but long sections of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath were damaged and are still closed. All of this was in addition to the road damage that happened during our extra-harsh winter. I kind of wish I'd brought my camera to capture some of the damage.

Nevertheless, despite the damaged roads and storm debris that still littered the roads, it didn't dampen anybody's enthusiasm for a good ride.

I rode the Rivendell Long-Low, and it just felt like the right bike for the day. Not super light or stripped down, but comfortable, with light handling. Even though it was clear and sunny, I was glad I had fenders over some stretches of road that still had standing water, and the 33.3mm Jack Brown tires from Rivendell did a lot to smooth out the stretches of broken pavement.

I really love the layout of this bike. The bars are high -- less than an inch below the level of the saddle. Rather than make for a "less-sporting" attitude, as one might expect, the bar position actually makes for a more well-rounded ride. When climbing the hills, with my hands on the bar tops, and the shallow seat angle, I'm fairly upright with a lot of my weight back behind the pedals for good power. On the flats, I can comfortably get down low into the drops -- and I can ride in that position for much longer than I can on other bikes with the bars set lower in relation to the saddle. I guess what I'm saying is that I might not be getting quite as low as I might on a bike with lower bars, but I can spend a lot longer there -- so the overall effect is a sportier, faster ride when I want to go fast, but more relaxed and comfortable when I want to slow down. It's a great combination.

I also love the bar-end shifters (Dura-Ace) -- being that I spend so much more time down on the drops, they are in the perfect place for easy reach. I do use integrated brake/shift levers, but I honestly don't think they're significantly better than bar-ends. In fact, when riding down on the drops, bar ends are actually easier to reach and use than Ergo or STI. And there is something remarkable about their simplicity and their stone-cold reliability.

Not much else to report today -- just feeling good after a great ride and had to share. I hope others got to enjoy a good ride this weekend, too.


  1. Nice Rivendell. Mine -- I've owned 5 and have 3, including 2 remaining of 3 custom Roads -- are wonderful for comfort and a powerful position (butt back, torquing over TDC) and, the customs notably, combine straight line stability with an unerring "turn in".

    But this morning I rode the pre-susp Fargo (steel, 2010?) set up with 44 mm Nitto B 135s 3 cm above saddle (early edition Flite). I love my Rivs, but this is a wonderful bike for its own use, which is largely flat, sandy acequia roads and tracks along Albuquerque's bosque. Today's ride was 20 miles of mostly dirt, much of it sandy as the weather warms up and horse, pedestrian, cycle, and pickup truck traffic stirs up the old alluvial soil on the Conservancy District roads. Ghetto-tubeless Furious Freds (55 mm actual on the 44 mm SnoCat SLs) at ~20/25 psi shrugged off the otherwise deadly goatheads which are Legion. I followed some of the lesser traveled acequia trails that dwindle down to what is in effect single track on each side of the ditch.

    Anyway, about bars: 3 cm above saddle compared to my roads' 3 cm below, but very, very comfortable and, you know what? You can get as aero as you want by bending your elbows. I find that bending my arms comes naturally according to the needs of the moment.

    The B 135 -- rando bar -- was a second hand cheap fill in before I gave up on drop bars for dirt altogether, having tried almost all of the "dirt drop" designs, latterly the Midge, and Noodles (too deep). I need generous hooks and ends parallel to the ground and adequate extension, but shallowish drop. Lo and behold, the B 135s are perfect, except that the rise on the flats negates the use of interrupter levers, but that's a small price to pay for an otherwise perfect bar.

  2. I enjoy the Cincinnati-Dayton portion of the Ohio to Erie trail for when I want to do a "long" ride. I eagerly await completion of the trail, the notion of riding from the Ohio river (trailhead between Cin, Oh and Newport, KY) up to Lake Erie seems very interesting to me. Would make for a nice trip.

    There is one scenic ~3 mile chunk of the Erie canal that follows along very close to my house that isn't "attached" to any part of the path, so it's got very little traffic and makes a fantastic area to run laps, or dog walk, or casual strolls with the family.

    I agree w/ Bertin: Nice Riv you've got there, she's a beaut. I've got an old Schwinn malingering in the basement and have been toying with the idea of doing a "poor-man's Rivendell" treatment on it, and imagined a pretty similar look to your bike.
    What kind of bag is that?


    1. Thanks for the complements on the Rivendell, guys. It's from 2000 or 2001, built by Curt Goodrich. The lugs on it are slightly different from most Rivs -- not quite as many hooks and curls on them -- and I do like it that way. The bag on there is a Baggins Banana Bag, which is no longer made, but it's similar (though larger) to a Gilles Berthoud saddlebag model GB786 or a Velo Orange Croissant saddle bag.

  3. I love the towpath trail. Been up a couple times to ride it. I hope they get the damage squared away.