XENIA — Well, given that it’s rained EVERY SINGLE DAY since I wrote Saturday’s introductory bicycling column, I haven’t quite had the opportunity to do much by way of bicycling over the weekend.
I do have some tidbits of information from earlier bike trail trips I took around the Dayton area, however.
Like I said before, I’m knew at this whole bike path thing. I’ve seen the paths nearly every day but, until just recently, I’d never actually ridden on them.
I’ve had my Schwinn 21-speed mountain bike for a couple decades now, but I never ventured beyond my little Kettering neighborhood with it during that time. All the bike paths are a ways from where I live, and so I’ve just never really felt like battling busy street traffic to get to where the real trails were.
And so I bought a bike rack, to aid in the transportation of getting myself and my ancient Schwinn to the bike trails.
I looked up bike racks online, found one that wasn’t too expensive, and ordered one … with a headlight/tail light combination and a bike lock! And I waited.
While I waited, I peeled the cobwebs away from my bike, grabbed a rag and a bucket of soapy water, and set about getting the bike all spiffed up and shiny. Heck, I even found a can of WD-40 and oiled up my gears and bike chain. I also took the bike to a local bike shop to have it tuned up and safety checked.
BIKE RACK: The bike rack was initially scary, though. Thoughts of strapping my bike onto my car’s trunk, only to watch from my rear-view mirror as it bounced into the traffic behind me, creating a massive pile up that would make the national news later that night, went through my head instantly.
There’s two vertical straps that hold down the top end of the bike rack, two more horizontal straps that keep the rack from swaying side to side, and one anchor strap at the bottom that keeps the other four straps in place, I think.
Each strap has a painted metal hook that is intended to hook directly onto my car’s trunk lid. I didn’t want the hooks to scratch my car’s paint (several online reviews of the bike rack said that had been a problem), and so I’ve rounded up some clean rags to place between the hooks and the paint.
So when I’m finally on the move, there’s not only the excess strips of straps flying around behind me, but the towels are waving around as well. Traffic doesn’t pull up too close behind me, and I can’t say that I blame them.
But in the four bicycling trips I’ve taken so far this year, the straps have done their job, and I haven’t made the nightly news.
My advice is to make sure the straps are tightly in place, then tie a slipknot into each of the straps to prevent them from loosening while you’re driving. I do that with each of the straps, and haven’t had any difficulties.
BIKE FOR HEALTH: My first bike trip was part of the Five Rivers Metroparks “Bike for Health Challenge,” which is a series of suggested bike rides within the Dayton area. I rode on the Mad River Trail from Eastwood MetroPark in Riverside, west into RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton, and back.
There was some debris from the Memorial Day tornadoes still around, but other bikers assured me that I could get through as long as I was careful. The trail winds its way along the Mad River (hence the trail’s name, duh!), and heads into the colorful murals and concrete-laden riverside areas of downtown Dayton.
I was impressed with the amount of wildlife that tends to hangout around the bike paths. Seagulls, herons, other birds and scads of geese. Geese were sunning themselves on one stretch of the Mad River Trail, and so I had to slow down to get past them.
They just sorta looked at me with caution, slowly stood up and even more slowly meandered their way off the path until I passed by. Then on my way back, they just kinda gave me a look as if to say “Ah damn. You again?” and did their meandering off the path again.
RiverScape is the westernmost part of the Mad River Trail, but it goes further east past Eastwood into Huffman MetroPark. I hope to visit that part of the trail sometime soon as well.
NEXT WEEK: Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you about a recent bike trip on the Ohio-to-Erie Trail from Xenia Station north into Cedarville, and back. Also hopefully, the rain will go away so that we can all have fun on our area’s bike trails.
Sports Editor John Bombatch is biking the Greene County area’s trails this summer. Got a bicycling question? Pass it along to John by email, or call him at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123. He’ll do his best to find the answer for you.