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.