Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mountains Not Required To Mountain Bike

Local Parks Offer Fun Riding Opportunites for All Ages

You might be skeptical of this blog's title, but hear me out. Yes, I live in Ohio. Yes, there is a lack of mountain-equivalent surroundings here. Yes, there are only rolling hills, rivers, and corn. But, BUT, there are places to mountain bike in the Greater Dayton Area. 

Two of my favorite locations, which are great for novice to experienced folks, are Five Rivers MetroParks Mountain Bike Area, or MoMBA, as it's affectionately known along with John Bryan State Park, affectionately known as JB to locals. Each of these parks has a dedicated set of trails for bikes only, and yes, you read that correctly. 

MoMBA: Located at 4485 Union Road, Dayton, OH 45424 (website link)
Details - Open year-round, closed Christmas and New Year's Day, trails subject to close for weather so call the trails hotline: 937-277-4374 on weekends or 937-275-7275 during business hours.

This kid-friendly mountain bike park just expanded its trail miles and added a cool beginner area called the Tot Track and Hilltop Flow Trail. MoMBA succeeds where other mountain bike only parks fall short by providing progressively more difficult trails, distinguished with unmistakeable signs/symbols, allowing riders to grow skills. A rider cannot accidentally end up on the expert level trail straight from the parking lot. The bi-directional trails were built sustainably and drain water efficiently to allow for trail riding immediately following rainstorms.

Also, with over 9 miles of trails to ride in both directions, it's not likely your kids will get bored. Another benefit to those who don't own a bike or have a broken one sitting in the garage is that the MetroParks offers bike rentals on-site on Saturdays starting in June. (rental link) Plus, there are monthly programs with bike demos, skills classes, and a summer youth bike camp at affordable rates.

Personally, I've been going out to MoMBA for seven years and the park keeps improving: more trails, restrooms/changing facilities, a bike wash station, and dedicated parking lot with trailhead signage. It's a blast! I love taking friends out for their first time because they have fun choosing their own adventure and relive the freedom of bicycling like when they were in their youth.

John Bryan: Located at 3790 State Route 370, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
Details - Open year-round, trails subject to close for weather so call 937-203-8101 before heading out or check online.


This park is packed full with 12 miles of bi-directional trails for riding. There is minimal elevation change, mostly flat, and flowy singletrack to be ridden. The trails out at JB are maintained by dedicated volunteers and locals. They are in excellent condition but still take a while to dry out after a soaking rain. There is a nice big gravel parking lot, changing area, and restrooms. The trails are much less technically challenging than MoMBA, which means this location is great for beginners, children, families, or folks doing a chill group ride together.

Some of the trails have funky cool names: Abracadabra, Powerline, Arboretum Loop, Great Scott.

Great Scott is the longest trail at 6.5 miles in a loop. Powerline is 1.9 miles with twisty turns in a pine woods. Abracadabra is 1.8 miles and also twisting in character. Arboretum Loop is 1.1 miles through the forest allowing connection to the rest of the singletrack.

My personal experience at John Bryan is more limited than riding at MoMBA but this trail system is tons of fun. There are often events, trail work days, and fast lap opportunities for the dedicated folks.

Check out the REI MTB Project app for an extensive overview of both systems and feel free to explore other locations a bit further away from Dayton such as Caesar's Creek and more.

Happy Trails and Happy Bike Month!




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Roll


A week ago I went to a bicycling instructor's training in Columbus, OH. It was delivered by a cool bike organization called Yay Bikes! (check out their website). Several people from around the state of Ohio participated in this 3-day training to get certified to teach everyday people how to ride their bikes confidently on the roadways. I am going to share some of the highlights from our training as best as possible - the remaining details can only be captured by participating on one of our bike rides. Read on...

  • In the state of Ohio, bicycles are considered vehicles of the roadway. Conclusion, no you do not need to nor should you ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. 
  • Ohio Revised Code 4511 states that bicycles should be ridden as near to the ride side of the road as practicable [replace that word with safe and reasonable]. That means that it is up to you to ride exactly in the travel lane where you deem, which may be different from another person or even your Uncle Steve. Plus, why would you ride in the gutter - there is debris, broken glass, and cracked pavement near or outside the white fog line. It is dangerous to ride here all of the time, for you and for your bike.
  • With the above bullet in mind, I also learned that people on bicycles may use the full lane of the road no matter the traffic conditions. People may "drive their bikes" right down the middle of the travel lane as long as they are following all of the traffic laws. This may shock most people but think of it like this: if I was first in line using a public drinking fountain, and you came up behind me with a water bottle to fill, that doesn't mean that I have to get out of your way simply because you want me to, it is first come, first serve. It is the same way with riding your bike. If you are "first in line" going about your business down the road, and somebody in a car honks their horn and tells you move out of the way, that just isn't realistic. Our traffic laws let us move about safely in the transportation machine. If we let feelings get in the way, it gums up the system. 
  • When bicycling in inclement weather as well as before dawn or after dusk, you need to have lights on your bike. A white light is required in the front and a red light and red reflector is required on the rear of the bike. You can inquire at your local bike shop for bike lights that can illuminate enough light to make you seen by others. 
  • Lastly and most importantly, have confidence. It's easier said than done, believe me. I didn't start out riding down the middle of the travel lane, bopping to work, the store, and all over the city. But I did practice on quiet streets I was comfortable riding on, then gradually built up to other roads that I might have been intimidated to try just a few months earlier. Adopt a motto of "Fake it till you make it" and you can get pretty far.
If you are interested in taking part in a How We Roll ride or to learn more, contact me. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

So this is my first post on my first blog! Take a look...

It's a few months into 2017 and I hope winter decides to skedaddle soon. I know most of you in the Dayton area are not keen on riding your bicycles in the winter but it can be done. So for my first blog, I will post some tips for bicycling/commuting in the winter and keeping you in shape for warmer weather riding.

Tips for winter bicycling:

Layers: Yes, layering your clothing is your best friend. Get too hot, take the layer off and store it. But if you didn't bring it when you're too cold, you can't put it on. Invest in some cheap workout clothing that is non-cotton because it will dry out even when you sweat through. Don't break the bank, just go through your workout clothes drawer that you already have. Under Armor and other similar style polypro materials are what I mean

Head Cover: What do I mean by this? Well, when you are riding your bike you will feel the wind through your helmet. This is refreshing when it's warm out, but when it's cold outside, it feels like you will turn into a popsicle. So I recommend a thin fleece hat, skull cap, or a full balaclava (face mask with head covering, face covering, and neck covering). You can just use a hat you already have under your helmet, but it might not fit. I find it helpful to wear my mountain biking helmet which is slightly bigger than my road helmet so my hat fits. Go to any local bike shop and take a look at options for your head. Bring your helmet with you to make sure it works.




Gloves: These little life-savers will make or break your ride so get a good pair. There are theories out there about mittens versus full finger gloves and materials. Again, go to the local shop, tell them you are looking for something windproof, and ideal for bicycling in cold temperatures. I love my mitten style with two free fingers, commonly referred to a lobster mittens. I can control my breaks and keep my hands wrapped around the handles bars. I will admit, sometimes I get sweaty inside the gloves but they are water and windproof. I have a short commute to the office from where I live, so it's a trade off I can tolerate.

Change of clothes: If you're like me and commute to work in the winter, a change of clothes and socks is a great thing to have, especially if you need to look super professional for meetings. I have a somewhat relaxed dress code at work, so I tend to bring a nice blazer or blouse and ride in a T-shirt to change out of at my destination. Socks are a huge concern for me, my feet are always cold. I feel like other women may or may not have the same problem. Either way, you will want to prepare a change of clothes the night before and decide what minimal layers you're riding in wearing. If you commute from a longer distance this means riding in bike shorts and bringing full undergarments into the office (Pro tip: or already having them there waiting for you all warm). Allow yourself time to cool down a bit before putting on your nicer work clothes and slipping out of the potentially sweaty ones.

Ride often: Keep riding through the winter as much as you can. I know I arrive to work happier, healthier, and in a much better mood than I would commuting in my car. The more you ride, the easier it gets, and planning for cold weather riding becomes a habit. So take up a new habit for the rest of the cold months.
- Happy riding!