Here I am last summer, proudly sporting my brand new bike helmet. Notice the sign behind me? Proceed Without Caution–the Dirty Girl Mud Run slogan. In this particular case, I really should have used more caution, as this bike helmet was the result of a bad spill I took which scared both me and the husband enough that we decided it was time to be grown-ups and wear helmets. Besides, they make us look sportier, like serious cyclers.
We had purchased new bicycles together as a 25th anniversary gift to each other at the end of the summer in 2013. We had taken the trip of a lifetime to Oregon (watch Travel Tuesday in the future for details) but wanted to buy ourselves a gift that was a commitment to be more active together. Because our anniversary is at the end of August, and the husband coaches football, this didn’t leave a lot of bicycling time before the weather turned. It was a great time to buy the bikes, though, as they mark them down at the end of the summer, so we got great prices.
Here is a photo from the only organized bicycling event we have attended so far. It was a bit nerve-wracking for me as there was a giant hill that I was worried about conquering after my mishap on a similarly steep hill a month earlier, which resulted in a bone bruise that still bothers me a year later. It was a great time, though, because I was able to reconnect with a dear friend (who would kill me if I put her photo in here) that I hadn’t seen in years.
We took our bikes for their first road trip on the Jeep to the Allegheny National Forest last summer because we had heard and read so many places that it was such a wonderful bicycling area. As novice bikers, what we failed to realize was that it is great for cycling on the road. But we are not experienced at riding on the road, and we stick to paved trails here at home; the trail shown above was really too rough for the tires we had on our bikes, so we didn’t make it very far that day. Our favorite paved trails in our area are: the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland MetroParks; the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga National Park; the Maple Highlands Trail in the Geauga County Park District; and the Summit Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail, one of the first “rail to trail” conversions in the country. The Maple Highlands Trail is also a rail to trail path.Thanks to our good friends (and world-traveling bicyclers) Pam and Jim for all of the great trail advice!
We were able to find just one “paved” trail in the area of the Allegheny National Forest where we stayed, and it was actually packed limestone, like the Canal Towpath Trail we use in Peninsula, Ohio. It wasn’t very long but it was pretty and mostly flat, winding around a little river. It was very difficult to find the trail head and we encountered some very shady characters along the way which will likely find a place in a short story series I have in mind. Watch out for the “Cult of the Primitive Star” stories in the future…we had great fun inventing back stories for the characters we met that weekend on our little adventure.
Although this path was too rough and it was raining most of the weekend, we had a great first adventure with the Jeep and bikes. I am perfectly happy being a paved trail bicycler, and I may never ride on the open road. For me, bicycling is a return to childhood freedom and the pure, unadulterated joy of flying down the hills at top speed, wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth. What more could a girl need?