. . . and there are plenty of bike-related activities to be enjoyed in Cincinnati. Tonight, you are encouraged to bike to Music Hall where you will be given a free instrument and sent to make Gateway Quarter residents wish they had shelled out for the extra soundproofing on their gentrificondos. This year, many of the so-called “commuter stations” are actually being held at fine purveyors of booze like Fries Cafe and The Brew House (where anyone with a helmet and a can of mace gets a free appetizer until 7). Other activities on Queen City Bikes’ handy dandy bike month calendar include the promising-sounding “Bikes+Brews”. Our pick? Because we’re a literary center, we like the “Ride for Reading” kick-off potluck at Hofner Park in Northside, which combines our three main interests: literature, food, and bicycling. So pump up those tires, administer oil to that drive train, and get out there. Bike Month comes but once a year. -Ed Scripsi
I was taking this picture of rental bikes when Jared, who describes Chicago’s bike center as his former baby, came out of the uber-spanking-modern bike shop at the front of the Cincinnati Bike Center just to say hello. I was immediately ushered in for a full tour, of the facilities. Boy are they swank. The shop offers bike tuneups and repairs. Strangest of all, while the staff was obviously hip, they lacked the dour, “you’re not worthy of staring at my tattoos” attitude one comes to expect from bike mechanics these days. Jared took me back to the lockup room and even let me load my bike onto the second level rack. It only took me two tries and resembled, on the whole, the bike carriers on the bus, except that instead of a bunch of angry busriders giving me the stink eye as I hold up their commute, I was aided by some friendly bike station staffers who told me they liked the color of my ride. Secure lockup in a soothing, well-insulated bike-cave is great, but the jewel in the crown of this bike station has got to be the showers, as well as its overall greenness. Jared explained that the facilities feature geothermal heating, solar panels, and flush-less toilets. I overcame the insipient creepiness of taking photos in a bathroom to share with the world the niceness that is the Cincinnati Bike Station’s showers.
Look at that hardware! Is that a detachable spray head? Gaze upon the future of your de-sweatified, post-mid-summer-cycle-commute, and be amazed. Jared explained that something called “water” comes shooting out of this thing that helps cyclists arrive at the office looking less like a “greasy messenger”. I resolved to arrive sometime in my full length Victorian-style bathing attire and give the setup a try.
What’s that you say? All this must be super expensive? Crazily enough, an annual pass will get you daily use of this state of the art cycler’s paradise for the low, low price of $12–that’s one twelve pack of beer–a month. Daily use is $2 and $2 for a towel. I forgot to ask whether you can bring your own. Their brochure includes a great cycling map… studying this, I realized how perfect their location–a hub, if you’ll excuse the term–between the soon-to-be completed lengths of Ohio River Way and Mill Creek Greenspace trails. -Ed Scripsi
May is National Bike Month, and May 12-16th is Bike-to-Work Week. So this is the perfect weekend to dust off your Schwinn and put your puppies to the pedals. We, the blogging 3/5ths of the Merc staff, vow to bike too and from work every day this week, no matter the weather. Also, Norm de Plume will attempt, riding no hands with his iBook, to blog LIVE from his morning commute. We submit, to that end, the following check list:
Tires: Pump those suckers up until your thumb won’t dent ‘em. This increases your fuel efficiency, which is great when your fuel happens to be the Wheaties you ate for breakfast because, in case you hadn’t noticed, the price of Wheaties just keeps going up.
Seat: Without a seat, you will find your bike to be Spanish Inquisition-uncomfortable.
Reflectors, lights, and bright clothing: Visibility is a plus, especially when biking around bleary Monday morning drivers, and of paramount importance if you bike in anything approaching dawn or dusk, which can be extremely dangerous, possibly even worse than night.
Ankle clips, or, roll that cuff: Nothing says “Look at me, I rode my bike to work!” like a rolled-up pant cuff . . . or chain-grease-blackened trousers. Sure, people will assume you’re riding to work because you got a DUI, but wait’ll they notice all the attention you get for sweating profusely in your cubicle. “OMG! Are you having some sort of attack?”
Toe clips: Greatly increase your efficiency. As George Clinton is fond of saying: “Get up for the down stroke.” Plus, if you’ve never seen someone fall sideways while trying to disengage their clip-in pedal shoes, it’s hilarious.
Helmet: As Mrs. Janni, the nice Polish/English lady who owned the world’s largest collection of egg cups admonished me after my second concussion: “Protect that noggin!”
Brakes: Check! This is Cincinnati! Unless you’re a fixed-gear hipster with grotesquely overdeveloped upper thighs that could stop a Metro, but even then, if you’re riding fixed-gear, we recommend a second application of the previous item, to be worn over the first. Dorky looking? You bet. But don’t forget, you’re so hip on that fixie you might make dorky the new hip. Speaking of fixed gears, check out this fixed-gear cyclist shot by Thomas Edison in 1899. -Ed Scripsi