A lot of folks are taking some time off over the Christmas and New Year holidays and, for many of us, time off of work means some time for the bike. Daylight is a precious commodity this time of year, and not to be wasted, even if sunshine has been hard to come by.
Staying in town for a day off during the week has a different feel than a weekend or an out-of-town vacation. Your spouse may have to get up and go to work or customers may call, but you've got the freedom to have another cup of coffee and finish the newspaper. It always reminds me a little bit of a day skipping school.
On those days off, I seldom ride with an agenda, but I always get great pleasure from dropping in for lunch somewhere. I don't leave my bike on the street out of my sight, so security is a consideration for me. Many places don't mind a bit if you simply bring your bike in and lean it in some out-of-the way place, while others have a place in sight where you can lock up.
Cafe@Heifer Village is a great choice. I'm a bit of a regular at Heifer. They have daily specials, good salads and soup, and a burger that is among the best in town. There is a bike rack near the back door and it is visible from both inside and from the outside dining area. It is also isolated from the street and pedestrian traffic, making a lock largely unnecessary.
Wheel around to the back door of the Heifer Cafe.
It's easy to keep an eye on your bike while enjoying some really good food.
Diamond Bear on North Broadway, NLR, is easily accessible from the River Trail, has some good pub fare, local brew, and bikes racks near the door. I really like the atmosphere at Diamond Bear- friendly staff, good service, big screen TVs for sports, and just a good vibe.
If you're a hop-head, try the Willie's IPA.
It would be a travesty for me to say that beer and bikes don't mix, so I'll say impairment and bikes don't mix. I don't want to encourage irresponsible behavior.
Of course, there are many other places to choose from, such as the Capital Hotel, which offers the only bike valet service that I know of, Muggs and Cregeen's on Main in NLR, Boulevard Bread in the River Market and on South Main just to name a few I've tried.
A small cafe lock easily fits into a jersey or vest pocket and offers sufficient security for low-risk parking spots. It won't stop a determined thief, but will prevent your bike from becoming a target of opportunity.
Cold, grey days and rain have been discouraging many of us from racking up the year-end miles, but on the cold days, the hardest part is just making yourself get out the door.
If you enjoy open spaces and uncrowded conditions, pick a cloudy day in the 30's.
The Mello Velos were out in force. I suggest that friends don't let friends ride in shorts when it is 34 degrees.
On days like last Sunday, I recognize almost every rider I see out on the River Trail. Most of us are just out there alone knocking out some miles, and you will see a few twos and threes sharing tales of lost fitness and over eating. I was only a little surprised to see the Mello Velos gathering at the submarine as I neared the end of my ride.
The MVs have a good thing going on in terms of supporting riders of all levels, being involved in local events, and having fun off the bike with some nice social activities. The group is a little different from many in that they have a fairly formal structure and the rides are 'members only' for purposes of insurance. They allow for a 'test ride' and then request that you pay dues and join if you want stay Mello.
Retro: It's OK, you can call me a Girl.
Back in the days of the legendary Fast Girls/Slow Guys rides, there was a conscious decision made that there would be no members, no charter, no rules, and no officers. It was "Fast, Fun and Friendly" and, damn, did we have some fun! The group was originally a few friends who started riding every spring in preparation for the Hotter'n'Hell 100. When I ran across them, there were usually 10-12 cyclists on a ride, but things soon blew up. The BDB was under construction and a lot of folks were discovering riding on the River Trail.
In 2006, the Fast Girls were a force.
We weren't about racing, though many of the group went on to compete. We were mostly hard riding intermediates who simply loved riding our bikes together. Nobody wanted to be a Slow Guy, so we were all Fast Girls.
The Tuesday and Thursday night rides grew to 50 or more riders and it was a hard bunch to control, but I don't think I ever saw a serious crash in or caused by the group. We respected one another and other trail users, though some folks chose to flee in fear of the sheer weight of numbers. Trail use has grown and evolved since those days, but much of what we learned became protocol for later group rides on the trail.
Mixed Message: Loose Gravel- Haul Ass
The sign says you need to go faster.
There was some much needed resurfacing of parts of the Two Rivers Park trails recently, but I couldn't help but be amused by these signs.
Folks, the days are getting longer, and if the sun ever comes out again, you will be able to tell. I'll be seeing you along the trail.