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New Bike Class on Cold Weather Riding and Riding at Night

With fall upon us and cooler weather reminding that more changes are on the way, we felt it is time to have a fall class to help those of you who want to extend your love of cycling from just a warm weather and daytime activity to one you can enjoy just about anytime.

So, we put together a class to cover both cooler weather biking and how to ride safely in the dark times of day.

The class is coming up soon, like in a couple of weeks. A flyer is floating around somewhere through town but one is also accessible here, with a click:  cold-weather-flyer

The flyer says you can register here online. Okay, all you have to do is send an email to this address and let us know who you are. Send to: Don’t worry about prepaying – you can pay at the door.

As you can see, there is no cost for the class to members of BE and only $5 for non-members. And we will have a drawing for a nifty hi-output bike headlight valued at over $50. Yes, you have to be there to win.

So, what all will be talked about in this class? Hoo, baby, there is a lot to go over if this topic is new to you. Here is a basic starter list of topics that will be covered:

Cool Weather Topics

Clothing to wear at different temperatures; foot coverings and socks; knee protection and when that is necessary; when do you need longer pants or tights; are gloves enough and what kind and when; heat loss through your head; protect your eyes too; necking on a bike; lips get cold and need help; nosy people sniffle; and what about your gut. And for your bike – Same water bottle? How to clean your bike in the winter; any better cold weather lubes?

Night Riding Topics

Why would you ever ride at night? Clothing needs; reflectors? How strong of a headlight do you need? Watts vs lumens; tail lights; steady or blinking lights? What do the laws require? Light up your helmet; how does traffic behave at night; any difference between country and city riding at night? halogen vs LED; carry spare what?

Feel free to bring your own headlight and tail light and any other item you use in cold weather or when riding at night to compare with the samples we will have at the program.

Fall Ride Schedule

We have put together a nice schedule of rides for this fall. With starting spots all over town, using a variety of dates and times, we hope this gives all of you the urge to come out and ride with us.

The rides will be at a slower pace, depending on who all shows up, but we never let anyone get stranded behind or left alone.

Weather will always make the final determination as to whether we ride or not, what with autumn always being a toss up, much like spring. Rain and sudden drops in temps will usually keep us from riding… but not always. So it’s a good idea to check here or on Face Book about the ride of the day. If a cancellation seems necessary, we will post it as early as possible.

Here is our schedule of rides for September and October. 2016 fall ride calendar

West Park Ride

Our goal for this first season was to offer neighborhood rides all over town. Some parts of town pose real challenges for routing because of how the streets are laid out and how busy some areas are with traffic. We prefer our neighborhood rides to be easy, short, and good for about all levels od riders.

Here we have our West Side with a start from West Park Recreation Center. We will travel some nice neighborhoods that a lot of Elyrians never see. And we will follow along some older roads that have been closed off because of other advances, like bigger highways.

About midway we will stop for an ice cream break. With the weather as hot and humid as it has been these last few days, this will be welcomed by all riders.

We will ride a short ways on a busier stretch of West River Road but as you will learn, Elyria’s motorists are pretty well behaved and respectful.

Save the map to use any time.

West Park 6.5 mi.

In June We Hit The Trails

For the handful of members we’ve come to know so far it has been a nice spring, albeit fraught with lack of predictability and warmth. but once the end of may finally came around, so did the heat and our bike season began.

We had only two rides in May, both exploring the neighborhoods of our fair city. While we rode I heard often how we saw streets and communities that seemed new to us, regardless how long we’ve been residents. We rode 5 miles along the side streets that cross or parallel Georgetown Ave. and then we rode the college-named streets on the east side. It was interesting to see how some streets are in good surface condition while others required us to practice some of our quick steering.

With those two rides under our saddles we next are forging out to the trails in our area. Two events are scheduled: Sunday, June 5 and Saturday, June 11. With these rides our style changes slightly – we will still move at a slow to moderate pace, determined by the slowest among us, plus we will be mainly on trails so we can include some kids to ride along, too.

Here are the details as we know them for the two rides coming up:

Sunday, June 5, 1 pm. Bur Oak Park (Black River Reservation, Lorain County Metroparks). If you have never been to Bur Oak before, this is reachable off of Ford Road which runs between Gulf Road and West River Road by Midway Mall. It is down in the valley and the Black River runs adjacent to it. We will meet close to the first pavilion near the parking lot. A brief safety talk will occur for trail etiquette. Free bottled water and energy bars will be available after the ride. From this part of the trail one can ride on into Lorain, about 5 miles one way, with one hill to conquer going up to the days Dam Park on W. 31st St. From there the trail continues through an interesting area of the old steel mill yards along the Black river, with great views along the way.

If you have a little one along who will not be able or willing to ride the full distance, you can still get in about a 5 mile ride by turning around just before the hill. Kids love this trail – it is wide and scenic with a few areas to check out the river a bit closer.

Saturday, June 11, 1 pm. Elyria City Hall Parking Lot. (City Hall is accessed only from Second St., which is a one-way street going west.) From here we will take 2nd St. to the bike trail to Oberlin. One way this is about 8 miles. Once in Oberlin we will stop for a bite at McDonald’s and then decide what to do next. One option is to continue on the trail to Kipton (another 6 miles one way) or return to Elyria or stop to see Swerve Bike Shop. Lots of options so we might be a broken up group after a snack at McD’s.

Kids are very welcome again but they will need to be able to make the entire trip or return with their parent/guardian on their own. Training wheels are allowable on this and the Bur Oak event but the child must be able to complete the trip or turn back with their adult.

Because our group might get broken up with so many options we may not have energy bars and bottled water available. Look for more details closer to the event.

These events are free to all. Non-members must sign a waiver to participate; children under age 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Grandpa Said…

“My Grandpa taught me to ride on the left side of the road, to go against traffic, like a pedestrian.”

biker wrong way

Yes, many people were taught this same thing. And back in the middle of the last century and before, that was how all kids – and adults – were taught to think about bicycling in the road. it seemed right then but is way wrong – and illegal – now. This needs an historical reference.

Bicycling has a long history, beginning in the late 1800s. They appeared before motorcars and were actually responsible for developing our better roads back then. Horses and carriages could ride through rutted and muddy roads but bicycles, with their lower power and narrower tires had a hard time with that. so they helped our country develop an improved system of roads and road surfaces. At the end of the 1800s bicycles were king and pretty much ruled the roads.

Then along came the motorcar and that changed things. In fact, the very first collision on the new and improved roads was between a bike and a car. As cars grew in popularity, the bicycle took a back seat and slowly fell from popularity. Adults grew fond of the new cars and bikes became more of a toy and popular with children and those too young to yet drive.

Since the new status of a bicycle was as a child’s toy, it lost its reference as a roadway conveyance. Users of bicycles at that time (from the early- to mid-1900s) were considered to be pedestrians when on the road. As such, they were instructed to use the bike the same as if they were walking on the road, to walk (or pedal) on the left side of the road, to go against traffic. This became the popular instruction of the day in the early to mid 1900s. You might still find such references in old documents, such as the Boy Scout Manual or Handbook, where they instructed youth to do that – to ride their bike on the road against traffic, the same as if you were walking.

Consequently, persons who grew up during those times (probably anyone born in the 1930s to 1950s), were taught that is how and where it is “safe” to ride your bike. And anyone taught by that person who grew up then has been taught the same thing. If your Grandpa tried to teach that to you, he was only trying to pass on what he was taught when he was young. But things have changed.

Sometime around the middle of the last century, as motorcars were rapidly gaining popularity and causing problems because the roadway laws had not yet caught up with technology, the world figured out it had to do something. What the lawmakers came up with was a universal set of rules governing many things about driving on roads. This “code of conduct” was called the Universal Vehicular Code, or UVC. The UVC was adopted by nealry all countries during that broad time period. About the only variance to that was which side of the road was the “correct” side for all traffic, such as we have some countries driving on the right and some on the left. But most all other parts of the UVC were adopted.

One of the big changes in the UVC was that bicycles (which by now had regained some popularity as a roadway conveyance) were now re-instated as vehicles (!). And, as vehicles, they now had to behave like all other vehicles, following the same rules and laws, the same etiquettes, the same principals. They were now allowed – and required – to operate on the same side of the road and to follow all the same laws. This occurred during the 1970s in most parts of the world. Including the USA.

So, your grandpa was right back 50 or more years ago, but he’s very wrong now. Now, all bicycles operators, when riding on the road, are required to ride in same direction as other traffic. Never is a bike to be ridden against traffic.

A bicyclist is part of traffic. The bicyclist must follow all the same rules and laws required of motorists.


Gearing Up For Change

See this photo? This is not Elyria. Not yet, anyway.

We can only hope that through the efforts of Bike Elyria and others we will soon see a event where bicyclists of all sorts are welcomed to downtown and anywhere else in town.

Elyria is a great place to live, work and play, regardless of what you might hear otherwise. And it is really not too bad to ride your bike in – or through – but we do have a ways to go before we can actually say Elyria is a Bicycle-friendly City.

If you want t be a part of making our fair city even better by making it more bike-friendly, consider joining us in our efforts. We promise plenty of sweat, not many tears and hopefully no blood.

As the song goes, “We’ve only just begun.”