On the trail again

Nothing dramatic today. Just your basic 6-mile jaunt with some mild climbs and some ornery geese (it’s that time of year), and a few bugs in the teeth. Mmm, protein. Water is still high at some spots along the Bike and Hike trail near the Cuyahoga River, particularly near the (former) Munroe Falls dam. These photos were shot on the old Coolpix L1. Not exactly state of the art, but adequate for daylight snapshots.

The water can rise another 8 feet before there's real trouble. The old dam would have been visible from this spot. It was knocked out in 2005, and the underpass seems to flood more since then. I believe the type of dam was a "flood control" dam, designed to prevent flooding of nearby low-lying areas. But knocking out the dam improved the water quality dramatically, preventing the stagnating pool that used to be upriver from the dam. Now the river runs clear and it's better oxygenated. Fish are returning to the river. I caught a nice bass downstream from this spot about a year after the dam went away, in a sandy-bottomed spot that used to be mud. I'd say it's worth the price of some minor flooding from time to time.

Here’s the reward for getting on the bike and working up a sweat (that, and hopefully shedding a few pounds of unwanted fat!).

Thinking these are cherry blossoms.

This bike set me back all of $75, nearly a decade ago. Kind of a funny story. I’ll continue after photo…

This bike has had a "good life," as the Wheel and Wrench guy said.

So I took this bike, the one pictured above, in for a tuneup a couple of years ago because the brakes were kinda worn out and the gears needed a little adjustment and I just didn’t have the time or patience to try to fix it, so I spent some money at the bike shop. When I went to pick it up, the guy politely suggested that when I want to grow up and get serious about a real bike, to come back and look at their bikes.

He said, and it came across as kind of condescending, that same way a wine snob tries to be polite as he sneers at a merlot or (God forbid) a mutt rose, “It’s had a good life.”

Did he mean I’ve taken good care of it, sheltered and fed it as best I knew how, or did he mean I’m a slovenly fat-ass who needs to get on the bike about 10 times more often than I was then, which was about 10 times more than I do now?

This bike, as I mentioned earlier, is a $75 Walmart special. It was a serious upgrade from the previous bike, something my wife scavenged at some yard sale from a guy who cannibalized various crap bikes and re-assembled them into Frankenstein-like creations that more or less functioned on two wheels. Mostly less.

Well, a decade ago (0r slightly longer, I’m thinking 1999), a small band of my siblings and in-laws decided to make a bike ride from my sister Yvonne’s (her then-boyfriend’s) house in Cleveland to our house in Cuyahoga Falls. They would ride, stay at our house for a cookout and libations, and then ride back the next day. I was not participating in this particular ride at the time.

That first ride nearly didn’t happen because the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was flooded. Eric’s tire blew out. Luckily, my brother John, being a savvy veteran of many long-distance bike rides, happened to have a playing card and some other tricks of the trade to keep Eric (now my brother-in-law) on the road long enough to get to a bike shop situated strategically along the Towpath in Peninsula, a charming little village that is also home to a railroad depot, some art shops and the Winking Lizard. The Lizard became our midpoint lunch spot on subsequent rides.

They did finally make it to my house. Much celebration was had, and a tradition was born. It was dubbed The Floodwater 40 (the trip is about 40 miles). T-shirts were made. It was awesome.

It became an annual Memorial Day weekend event for nearly a decade, and each year was an adventure.

After a couple of years of needling about my lack of actually riding in the Floodwater 40, I attempted to meet the trio at a halfway point, only to get a flat on a very hilly stretch of Bath Road (the view was lovely as I walked my bike to the bottom of the hill). Luckily, I had recently acquired a cell phone and called DeAnne to rescue me. My sibs doubted that I had actually attempted to meet them. This was, I believe, in 2002.

In 2003 (again, relying on memory), John came to pick me up. I had taken the old beater bike out for a test ride the day before, put air in the tires, etc. and determined it to be (just barely) sea worthy.


When John. came to pick me up,  we found a flat tire. He took one look at my pathetic old heap of a bike and burst into laughter. We loaded it onto the bike rack anyway.

The next morning, the three of them took me for a ride. Heh, heh, heh. To Walmart, ostensibly to get a new tire for that tired, tired old bike. Then one of ’em or maybe all three suggested, “Hey, look at this bike!”

No argument from me. Probably the best $75 I ever spent. And just think, I fed some family in China for a week!

The old bike was recorded for posterity before it was unceremoniously dumped on Eric and Yvonne’s front lawn. Or was it the garage? Eh, doesn’t matter.

The Floodwater 40 was put on hold for a couple of years while Yvonne and Eric were overseas, but we’re bringing it back! Sort of. We’re still working out the details.

Anyway, that’s the story of my bike. I bet yours has a story too. Care to share?


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