With a brand-new head light poking a hole in the darkness
along the scenic Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley
National Park, a small, squeaky voice caught my attention.
"Passing on the left," said the little guy, as
he pedaled past me on the gravel trail.
When a pint-sized biker who is about 5 or 6 years old is
going to leave you in his dust, followed closely by his
mother, you know you need to spend some extra time on your
mountain bike. Their bright and shiny red taillights
disappeared around a bend, a small part of a large crowd
enjoying the Century Cycles Night Ride on the Towpath Trail
a week ago.
The Night Ride has become a popular feature of the CVNP
and Century Cycles. Starting at 8 p.m., there is plenty of
daylight at the start and lots of pitch dark at the end.
While most outings average about 100 bicyclists, on this
night there were closer to 200, hitting the trail in very
orderly fashion as it followed the historic Ohio & Erie
You couldn't tell the regulars from the newcomers as
they gathered at Century Cycles on Ohio 303 in Peninsula,
next to the Winking Lizard Tavern. The biking outfits ranged
from jeans and jackets to the gaudy shirts and shorts many
bicyclists prefer when they're on the road.
An unseasonably cool evening, it was perfect for working
up a sweat on the 17-mile round trip on the towpath's
Helmets are required, and so are lights. A small LED light
on my handlebars and a splash of flashing red under the back
of my seat filled that bill, early Father's Day
presents from a veteran rider in the family. I could have
used a pair of those gaudy shorts, though I wasn't sure
I would want my hunting buddies to ever see me wearing them.
Jeans are not the best bet on the trail, even for a short
run. Jeans have seams instead of the padding installed in
bicycle shorts just where it counts when you're perched
on such a small, hard seat.
"A mountain bike is best when the trails are wet, but
we like racing bikes with skinny tires," said Tony
Collins-Sibley of Alliance, joined by his 13-year-old son,
Malcolm. "We like to be in front, and the first ones
back. Malcolm is a real hot-rodder and runs with the young
The Night Rides have entered their 14th summer, and the
Collins-Sibleys haven't missed many over the past five
"You'll see it all, from little kids riding in
trailers and tag-a-longs to the latest in touring
bicycles," he said. "The ride is what you make of
it, but any way you do it the ride is a lot of fun."
A typical night ride takes about two hours to complete at
a very leisurely pace.
"We designed the night rides for bicyclists of all
skill levels," said Century Cycles owner Scott Cowan.
"Our staff leads the way and provides support should
there be a mishap. It can be a fun family outing, a unique
date night or a great bicycle ride with friends under the
Youngsters 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
There was a full moon on this night, but when you pedal
along under a canopy of trees along the Towpath Trail, you
realize how essential it is to have a headlight and a tail
light. Some bicyclists also wore head lamps, and many flip a
switch to have their lights blinking as they tackle the
It was nice to cruise down the final hill and along the
railroad tracks adjacent to Century Cycles. Better yet, as I
extinguished the little headlamp on my bicycle, the lights
across the tracks at the Winking Lizard Tavern took over,
beckoning us to stop for a hot snack and a cold drink to
celebrate completing the course.
The youngster and his mother had finished well before me
and were long gone. It was probably past his bedtime.
Area has many locations to enjoy riding your bike
The next Century Cycles Night Ride on June 27 will team
with NiteRider Technical Lighting Systems to offer
bicyclists the chance to try new NiteRider high-powered
bicycle lights. A demonstration of the lights begins at 6
p.m. and, while supplies last, bicyclists can borrow the
lights for the ride that begins at 8 p.m.
The Night Rides are held monthly through Oct. 9. For
dates, visit centurycycles.com. For a listing of sponsored
Ohio bicycle rides and races, visit ohiocycling.info/obec.
The Cleveland Metroparks is a popular destination for
bicyclists. Bicycles, including mountain bikes, are
permitted on Cleveland Metroparks roadways, all-purpose
trails and other paths designated for use of bicycles.
Bicycles are not permitted on hiking or bridle trails.
Mountain bike trails are located just outside the CanalWay
Center. A short loop of about a half-mile is for beginners
with minimal mountain biking skills, and a longer loop has
steep terrain for intermediate riders. Visit clemetparks.com
for maps or check with the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike
Association at CAMBA.us.
The Lake Metroparks has bike trails at the Chapin Forest,
Girdled Road Reservation, Greenway Corridor, Hogback Ridge
Park and Penitentiary Glen reservations. Visit
lakemetroparks.com for maps. On its bike schedule is a
30-mile Erie Morning Harbor Ride from Arcola Creek Park to
Ashtabula on June 27 at 9 a.m.
The Metroparks Serving Summit County have a variety of
sponsored bicycle rides, including the Bike Metro Parks:
Freewheelin' Friday events. On July 3, it offers a
34-mile towpath ride from the Manchester Trailhead to
Massillon and back. A 22-mile tour to Clinton is July 31.
Call 330-865-8065 or visit summitmetroparks.org.