Opinion

Taking a century to turn 40

“How do you want to celebrate your birthday?” my friend Katie asked.

“Let’s take a bike ride, a long one,” I answered.

And just like that, we were planning my first century ride.

We settled on Sunday, Aug. 18, two days after my 40th birthday. I created a Facebook event page. The invitation read, “This is a joy ride to celebrate friendship, bikes and aging with grace and purpose.”

In addition to Katie, two other riders, Austin and Frank, decided to come along. We planned to leave from Lakewood Park. We would head southwest to Oberlin, northwest to Huron, and east from there to Cleveland.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 11:39 AM, 10.06.2013

Posts from the Road: The conclusion of A Lake Erie Odyssey.

The following is the story of the last six days of my 11 day self-supported bicycle trip around Lake Erie told through my posts to social media during the journey.

Wednesday, May 29
dispatch from Turkey Point, Ontario: Had a great day staying with Jessica and family as she recovered from her crash. I charged the zipline course through the forest canopy at Eco-Point. Nice to have a day off the saddle to prepare for the 100km+ to Long Beach tomorrow...

After unexpectedly losing a day, I surmised my journey would best be served by sticking to my original route to explore lower Ontario, but return by train from Buffalo in time for work Monday morning. My plan was to take the most direct route to the next evening’s destination: Long Beach in Wainfleet, Ontario. After getting into a good groove for the first 40km (25 miles), a sign marking the “Waterfront Trail” coerced me from the main thoroughfare and back to the lakefront. Meandering along the lakeshore, passing through picturesque farmland and stretches lined by cottages was so enjoyable that I gave up on making good time. After eating lunch at another empty provincial park, I continued following the shore with a detour to the tiny hamlet of Port MaitIand, and finally arrived by nightfall at Tim and Jackie’s summer cottage on Long Beach.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 11:39 AM, 10.06.2013

#ArgoVelo PART 2…That Snickers Bar Wanted a Home

Wednesday…SKYLINE DRIVE, HERE WE COME!

In the rain. We packed up camp and headed to breakfast at a quaint little coffee shop before ascending straight up a mountain for 4 continuous miles. Or was it 5? It all blends together.

As I was checking the ‘Book, I made a nice little discovery that brightened my overcast morning. Seems the Frienemies were quoted $20 at the bunk house when they arrived. “I thought it was $10” says Frienemy #3. “It is” says Dennis, “But for PGH, its $20. 10 for the bunk. The other 10 goes to Bike Cleveland.” BOOM.

Anyhow, we were off: SkylineDriveSkylineDriveSkylineDrive!

Just to help you put this into perspective, this is the elevation profile of the next 105 miles we were riding with fully loaded bikes of pannier gear goodness and IPAs: http://goo.gl/FPT8gn.

And THIS is a detailed look at our first 35 miles… (pay special attention to those first 5 miles, will ya?): http://goo.gl/1ItKV6

CLIMBING LOVE. And actually, it was. ...

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 11:39 AM, 10.06.2013

Product Review: Red Zeppelin CO2

Planet Bike makes an awesome CO2 air pump.  It’s called the Red Zeppelin.  When you buy this under $20.00 accessory, you will receive two CO2 cartridges, a sturdy connector valve, and something that looks like a mini beer koozie, an insulator to protect your hands from the eventually freezing cartridge.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 8:34 PM, 09.04.2013

A Lake Erie Odyssey... part III

Setting off from Wheatley Provincial Park following the previous night’s exorbitantly priced and raccoon disturbed sleep, I decided to alter my plans and push 20km past another provincial park to reach the Clearville Park campground. Along the way I was tempted to detour from busy Talbot Street to follow a sign for the less traveled “Waterfront Trail” that seemed to follow closer along the shoreline. But, driven by the promise of free internet access at the public library I decided to stay on the main route toward the town of Blenheim. Upon arriving there I was too famished to think, so I stopped at the city park and had a satisfying picnic of my typical lunch fare: peanut butter and jelly on mini flat breads, a pepperoni stick with string cheese, Muscle Milk (contains no milk!), brownie, granola bars, squeeze applesauce, and plenty of water. After finding the library, I was disappointed to find it closed. I had resigned myself to a less desirable route along a busy road for miles for nearly nothing. Slightly dejected, I found the local pool to use their waste elimination facilities and bought some items at the pharmacy chain before heading out again: SPF 30 chapstick, battery for my cycle computer (LOW), tylenol for my aching body, baby wipes to manage my persistent griminess, and a can of Pringles as a reward for my efforts.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 8:34 PM, 09.04.2013

A Lake Erie Odyssey… part II

In our previous issue, Michael Mullins described the first day of his ride around Lake Erie--from Cleveland to Sandusky, where he took the ferry to Peelee Island. The ferry ride enabled him to make the trip with just a one-week absence from work, and also to avoid riding through the urban sprawl that is Detroit. We rejoin him in the morning on Peelee Island--ed.

After spending the night at the Pelee Township campground, I awoke refreshed and ready to explore the island.  I quickly packed up and inconspicuously stashed all of my gear except for a single bag in the shrubs and headed to the beach just across the street.  The entire pristine public beach was empty, and I took advantage by spending the next hour basking in the sunrays while lying in the soft sand.   While rinsing off in the refreshing, clear lake water I noted that this seemed like an entirely different lake than the one I left behind in Ohio, with a laidback and peaceful atmosphere to match.   I returned to my bike eager to see what else the island had to offer, and pedaled north along the eastern most side until reaching the Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Preserve. The walking path deposited me onto another sandy beach with a view of the lighthouse in the distance.  Despite being built in 1833, the old limestone lighthouse was in great shape thanks to government restoration around fifteen years ago.  The iconic lighthouse, along with the picturesque setting and original wooden breakwaters captivated my camera’s viewfinder for the better part of an hour before I broke for lunch perched on rocks overlooking the water. 


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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 5:02 PM, 07.30.2013

Time for Bicycle Commuting

Summer is the perfect time to try bicycle commuting. It’s a growing trend, for many reasons:

  • It’s good for your physical health and is a great stress reliever.
  • It is economical and good for the environment.
  • All the cool kids are doing it.

Got excuses? Here are the official Heights Bicycle Coalition (HBC) responses to the most commonly cited barriers:

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 5:02 PM, 07.30.2013

Fighting the Good Fight with Minimum Obscenities

A few years ago I was rolling down Detroit Ave. in Lakewood, on my way to the Root Cafe for work, when a loud, boisterous voice from a vehicle approaching me from behind yelled, "Hey, get off the road! You belong on the sidewalk!" 

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 5:02 PM, 07.30.2013

Misadventures in Cleveland Bike Commuting

My client, Samantha, never bothered to get her driver’s license. As a city kid growing up in Cleveland, she memorized the relevant bus and rapid schedules. Take the 79A to the market. The red line from West Park to the Jake. (Some of us still call it the Jake). These days, Sam lets the forecast determine whether she’ll ride her old beater hybrid to work, or opt for the bus instead.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 8:06 AM, 07.02.2013

Bicycle Law Overview

Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. And according to Ohio law, cyclists are permitted to "drive" on all roads except freeways and are subject to the same rules that apply to all drivers.
 
However, cyclists are not motorized vehicles, so a few additional Ohio laws apply to the car-bicycle road relationship:
 
A motorist must:
 
-Maintain a safety zone of approximately three feet between the car and the bicycle
-Pass a bicycle only when safe to do so
-Leave ample room when turning right after passing a bicyclist so the bicyclist is not cut off when the motorist slows for the turn.
 
Ohio laws for cyclists:
 
-Must ride on the right side of the road -- in the same direction as traffic. Drivers turning right do not expect a vehicle coming twoard them on (the oncoming cyclist's) left side of the road and may turn into the path of the cyclist.
-Cyclists may ride two abreast and in the center of the lane, although local governments can mandate single-file riding.
-Use lights at night
-Use hand signals before turning
 
Wearing a helmet is advised, although it is not required by law.
 
Commons sense dictates that bicyclist should obey the rules of the road. And, just like car drivers, it's dangerous to talk or text on a cell phone while driving.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 8:06 AM, 07.02.2013

A Lake Erie Odyssey… part I

After another failed relationship this past year, I realized only two non-inherited relationships during my adult life have grown stronger with time: my nine-year association with my closest companion and sole dependent, Bella, and my life-long connection with the bicycle.  Bella is my dog, and really has no choice but to put up with me.  Just like the bicycle.  This could be interpreted by some as a reflection of some deep personal fault of mine.  However, I’ve come to understand my solo status simply reflects that I’m currently more comfortable as an independent life adventurer than restricted by a significant other. 

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 8:06 AM, 07.02.2013

Six Days in Solitary, Not Confined

Any experienced cyclist is well aware of the therapeutic benefits of a nice, long bike ride. The satisfying burn of lactic acid in your thighs; the beautiful, unexpected sights along the way; and the musical hum of rubber against pavement are just a few of the countless pleasures that are uncovered when you put your butt on a bike. It was these joys and all the others that I hoped to find in setting out on a solo bicycle from Durham, NC to Cleveland, OH this past March.

As a bike shop owner, my passion for bike touring is confined by a cruel irony—during the warmer months when touring is most pleasant (often referred to as “the cycling season”), the shop tends to be very busy, so I simply cannot find the time to ride my bike as much as I’d like to. For the last couple years, however, I’ve found a decent solution to this conundrum.  Renato and I close the bike shop for a week or two in late winter and I go ride somewhere.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:41 AM, 06.02.2013

What is "Practicable"ť?

What is “practicable”?

Most people would agree that a government should not do things that endanger its citizens’ lives, or unduly restricts their freedom, or their ability to improve their own lives.  It’s also generally accepted that societies, through their governments, have a responsibility to reasonably prohibit their citizens from infringing on others’ rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

One place where government has a clear role in protecting the safety and freedom of its citizens, and in regulating their behavior towards each other, is in the public commons. The simplest example of this is on our public roads. Everyone has a right to use the road to get wherever they need to go, as long as they don’t unreasonably infringe on others’ rights to do the same.


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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.02.2013

Let celebrate bronze, but then get back to work

As bicycling continues to grow in popularity across the country, there is a growing competition among city leaders to be known as the best city for bicycling. One benchmark in this competition is to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).

In May 2013, five years after receiving an honorable mention, the City of Cleveland has finally joined the ranks of 259 other communities across the country and now holds the distinction of being a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.

We all know it is an exciting time to be on a bike in Cleveland, but there is still work to be done. Over the past two-years advocates have worked with the City of Cleveland to help pave the path for faster implementation through policies like the Complete and Green Streets Ordinance and better enforcement through the Bicycle Transportation Safety Ordinance, which requires motorists to give bicycles 3-feet when passing. While policies are helpful tools in forcing decision makers to think about biking, we still have a long way to go in terms of installation of on-the-ground bicycle facilities compared to many cities on the BFC list.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:42 AM, 06.02.2013

Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes: One Month Review

The rules are simple: 1. Sign up at nationalbikechallenge.org. 2. Ride your bike. 3. Log your miles. 4. Win prizes and BEAT PITTSBURGH.

So why is it that we are so far behind?

There are many who think this is just fun and games. But it's really not. You know that, right? This is big folks. Big. I mean, we have national coverage on this Battle (go on, Google it. You will see!)…and right now? Pittsburgh is showing the nation that they are better than us at biking. That is unacceptable.

Second? We have a crown at stake. A crown! Rustbelt Welding is sponsoring this Battle and hooking us up with a fantastic work of art to call our own. However, right now? Pgh is going to be wearing that puppy if we don’t do something about it. Right. Now.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.02.2013

Learning what everyone else is so happy about

On August 30, 2012, I rode my first Cleveland Critical Mass. Many people reading this were probably there. CCM is always, relative to the weather, well attended, but that one drew more than 700 cyclists.

On a whim the night before, I had decided to go. I had not been on a bike in any meaningful way since college, which was a long time ago, but in the garage, I still had my bike from school, a Trek 810 Sport mountain bike. The front derailleur didn’t work, the seat post was broken, and I only had access to four cogs.

In terms of comfort, that CCM was not the greatest time I have spent on a bike, but the experience was revelatory.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:40 AM, 06.02.2013

2013: Pittsburgh Defeats Cleveland Again! - Or will they? STOP THE INSANITY: Accept the CHALLENGE!

So. Football to me is pretty much that game…where those dudes in tight pants run around pushing a small white ball with red laces. Down some ice. With a broom. And they aim for a basket so that they can score a field goal. Wait. Touch down. No…Wait. Whatever. BUT! Football is that game where Cleveland folks go BIZERK if you even mention the colors black & gold. (Or is it yellow?). Cleveland Brown’s fans *HEART* the Steelers. Right?

My point is, I don’t really know jack about football (nor do I really give a crap about football) but I do know this: Cleveland folks will do ANYTHING when it comes to beating Pittsburgh. And that, I care about.
Let’s bring this to a subject I do know (and LOVE) shall we?

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 3:46 PM, 05.01.2013

Fall back. Spring FORWARD. But always reflect: The season of giving. Does it ever really end?

As we pedal further away from the traditional “season of giving”, and into the start of spring I am reminded of the many incredible times throughout the last year that the cycling community has given back to their own. From fix-a-thons, to charity rides, to accidents, to unfortunate deaths; the cycling community here in Cleveland has given back whether it involved a bike or not. That is how we are. We are a close knit community. All of Cleveland really is. A small town where everyone knows everyone through some degree of separation, in a big city. That’s what makes the common denominator of two wheels such a unique tie. 

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 PM, 04.07.2013

Bike Share, Bike Now - Dispatch from DC

I recently spent some time in DC for work (I work at a nonprofit, I swear!).  During my shuttle from Baltimore into the city, I witnessed a beautiful thing: hundreds of people on bikes. Notably, commuters in business wear – men and women in expensive suits with panniers carrying things like lap tops, documents, and fat wads of cash. Lining the streets were thousands of bikes locked to almost every tree, sign, and parking meter in sight. As I neared my hotel, I beheld another extraordinary spectacle: a bike share station!

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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 7:31 PM, 11.30.2012

Critical Mass and Decision Making

What kind of rider are you? Avid cyclist? Weekend Warrior? Errand runner? Whether its’ a weekend ride through the Cleveland MetroParks, a quick ride to grab some veggies at a local farmers’ market or taking yourself to work and back everyday, NE Ohio is never lacking for cyclists.

Many of you know that there is an international event held monthly (inCleveland, the last Friday of every month) called “Critical Mass” that brings cyclists of all kinds together. Critical Mass intends (in part) to raise awareness to non-cyclists, especially those that drive cars to the fact that cyclists are everywhere and that we indeed have every right to be there!

Critical mass is a nice ride with a steady pace that takes riders throughout various neighborhoods inNE Ohio(commencing atPublic Square). The roads get taken over by cyclists that hoot and holler: “Happy Friday” and wave and ring bells and blow horns and smile and make folks happy**almost** everywhere we go.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 10:30 AM, 09.24.2012

In the wake of tragedies, a call for the highest standards of safety

The Cleveland cycling community was shaken to hear of two separate hit and run collisions that took place on Saturday, August 25th. The first happened around 12:30pm. Patrick Miner, a visitor from Pittsburgh, was enjoying a leisurely ride from the Chagrin Reservation to Downtown Cleveland. Along his route, he was taking the Morgana Run Trail. When crossing the intersection of Aetna and the trail, Patrick was struck on the side by a motor vehicle and knocked off his bike, suffering damage to the bicycle and injury to himself.

The second happened at the intersection of West Blvd and Clifton later that evening.  Cyclist Elizabeth Deering was headed with a group of friends to an organized social ride when a motorist failed to yield and turned into Elizabeth.

The most disturbing part of both of these collisions: in both instances the motorists did not stop; they drove off as if nothing had ever happened.

As advocates working for safer streets, Bike Cleveland believes people must be responsible for moving carefully and without harming others, whether they are riding a bicycle or driving a car. The motorists who injured Ms. Deering and Mr. Miner lacked care and compassion.

Bike Cleveland hopes that all users of the road will learn from these senseless tragedies and respect the rights that cyclists have to operate on the road as any other vehicle. When moving around our city’s streets — whether driving or bicycling — we all must hold ourselves to the highest standard of safety, and as vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians must be prioritized to ensure our safety.

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 10:30 AM, 09.24.2012

The Outspoken Cyclist: Musings

I'm sorry I missed offering an article for the last issue of the GLC, but it's been quite hectic for The Outspoken Cyclist!

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Volume 1, Issue 6, Posted 10:30 AM, 09.24.2012

More Than A Pothole

There were two things holding me back from buying my now four-year old Giant FCR – one, it had pedal clips and two, it was pink. 

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11:16 PM, 08.17.2012

Keep it Movin': Triumphs & Tribulations of the Lady Cyclist

I am a lady cyclist. When you see me riding, there is no doubt that I am a lady. I don’t often bicycle in spandex or other gear that make me appear even a bit androgynous. Indeed, quite the opposite is true. I wear dresses almost every day, ballet flats or lovely vintage Ferragamo heels, and I often ride a mixte decked out with shellacked cork grips and a pink basket containing my purse.

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 PM, 08.17.2012

We Are Not In the Top 50 Anymore

In 2011 Cleveland graced Bicycling Magazines list of the 50 most bicycle-friendly cities, coming in at #39. Despite progress, including the opening of the Cleveland Bike Rack, the passage of the Complete and Green Streets Ordinance, and the addition of sharrows on a few Cleveland streets the city of Cleveland failed to make the list in 2012. While bicycling across Greater Cleveland continues to grow, in fact the number of people commuting to work by bicycle increased four-fold from 2000 to 2010, there are dozens of cities across the country that are progressing much faster and more innovatively than Cleveland.

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 PM, 08.17.2012

The Turn

Talcum clouds pulse halting

Summer's friendly push

Dinner waiting

In my work life I am a research scientist who connects prosthetic limbs to peoples brains so that the feel like a part of their body. However, my first certificate of mastery was as bike mechanic. I commute year round on my fixed gear putting in between 150 to 200 miles per week. I ride with my friends early on Sunday mornings and I race cyclocross during the fall. Over the past few years I have come to realize how much riding means to me. Bikes are magical.

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 PM, 08.17.2012

Tour de Taco, West Park Style

There are a lot of Taco Tuesdays out there. Something for everyone really. From your traditional tacos at the long standing CLE Mexican restaurants, to the foodie spins at bars and eateries to the bizarre "why does that German/Irish/Italian place have a Taco Tuesday?" venues. 

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11:12 PM, 08.17.2012

Pedal: A documentary that will make you want to go for a bike ride and/or never ride your bike again.

Peter Sutherland's 2001 documentary about New York City bike messengers is a wild ride through the streets of Manhattan, with reality show-style shots of cyclists pouring their hearts out about their passion.  With everything from a messenger showing you his makeshift bedroom in an underground cut out off of a subway track, to a rider being slammed by a NYC taxicab, to a rider literally crying over how much he loves to be on his bike.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 11:11 PM, 07.09.2012

Green Mountain Brew Hop: Bikes n' Brew, the Shelli and Bill way!

I backpack. And I ride bikes. Two of my passions. I started combining them a few years ago. Some call it “touring”. I call it: BikePacking.

For this year’s week long BP adventure, I wanted to focus on an area that took me through a Locavore’s paradise. A place where farm to fork meets craft beers, meets laid back small towns, meets The Mountains! As I was brainstorming a variety of ideas, and playing on Facebook, a little ad popped up in the corner: The 2012 Vermont Bike & Brewery Challenge! I immediately clicked. And discovered that Vermont has a brewery passport!

OH?

I scoured the website. Small family run breweries. Farm tours and Chef demos. Historic towns. Fabulous back roads. This was exactly what I was looking for. So instead of letting someone show me the way (aka, a company), I created my own adventure…The Green Mountain Brew Hop!

The scope of this trip: Plan the route, but not too many details. Eat lots. Drink lots. And Bike til you Drop.
My fellow captain for the CMSC Pan Ohio Hope Team, Bill Wolohan, was up for this Shelli-made challenge. BONUS! 

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 11:11 PM, 07.09.2012

The Turn

Crystals ancient cold crystals cut

Brine tides

Usher morning song


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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 5:36 PM, 03.13.2012

SNACK ATTACK! RECIPE OF THE MONTH: NUTTY GRANOLA

It's in the mid-thirties out, winds blowing at a steady 26 miles an hour. No matter which direction you turn, that wind is blowing straight in your face. You've been riding for an hour and have only made it halfway to where you're going. Frustration has a strong grasp on your mental state.  It's time for a snack...and scarfing down an entire large pizza doesn't seem like an irrational or even unpleasant thi do. If only you had some killer road snacks to keep you going

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 12:51 PM, 03.05.2012

WELCOME TO THE GREAT LAKES COURIER

All of us who ride bikes have stories. We tend to talk about feats of balance and speed, and about how we interact with cars. We talk about hardware and pavement. We talk about big rides, dream rides, fast rides. Whatever kind of bike you ride, and whatever the reason, the Great Lakes Courier is a place to tell your stories.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 5:48 PM, 03.01.2012

REMEMBER BICYCLE MAYHEM

Nighttime rides were equal parts socializing and adventuring

Cyclists tend to talk about injuries and hardware. No matter their day jobs or the cost of their machines, no matter whether they come from the Lycra clad, sport riding school or dress in the beat-cotton chic of the messengers downtown, they've all got stories of balance or skidding, of cars in the wrong place, of punctures or broken brake cables. They know what you're talking about if you use the phrase “down tube shifter” or if you speak of “old school Italian steel.”

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Posted 3:39 PM, 03.01.2012