It’s little secret that I’ve been bitten by the bicycling bug. We’d long spoken around the office about how cool it would be to just ride a bike to work whenever the odd car repair bill surfaced. However I took to the bike as last ditch effort to combat my increasing girth. Oddly, increasing exercise has always seemed a much simpler task than modifying my diet. Saving on gas and vehicle maintenance were simply ancillary benefits.
Biking is hip!
Like so many cities, Cincinnati is beginning to embrace the biking public. The recent ribbon breaking of Riverside Drive bike lane improvements had me itching to checkout a route that may well be part of my future commute. That is if Gaslight winds up moving downtown. The monthly Web/Tech Drinkup offered the perfect excuse!
Mind you, I’ve been biking fairly regularly for about 15 months, consisting largely of 10 mile round-trip work commutes and weekend distance rides. I’m averaging about 60 miles/week on my bike, roughly six hours/week. I’ve also notched a couple 140 mile two-day out-and-back trips.
Thanks to an afternoon appointment in Silverton, the ride to Japps for the drinkup was a mostly downhill 11.7 miles covered in 48 minutes. The descent from Kenwood to Madisonville is a breeze. The approach to Hyde Park is a gentle but thigh burning climb. From there it’s all downhill, literally, until you reach Riverside Drive. I hit rush hour congestion in Mt. Lookout Square which slowed my pace only slightly.
Kudos to the City for their job on the bike lane improvements. They were not lost on the many fellow bikers I saw taking full advantage of the weather and riding conditions. There are some areas where overgrown vegetation is encroaching on the lanes but the lanes are wide enough there to allow autos and bikes to coexist. From Riverside Drive its a quick dash up Eggleston Avenue to Japps.
The drinkup is always a blast. I enjoyed the interest generated when attendees notice me carrying my bike helmet. Sadly, the conversation invariably ends the same each time, with an excuse why biking is so impractical. Ugh. Shine on my fossil fuel burning friends. I love you nevertheless.
Once the festivities died down, a meal at Quan Hapa and libations at Lackman’s it was time to reverse course, at nearly midnight! With bike lights in strobe mode I headed south through the empty city streets. Riverside Drive was even more deserted if that is even possible. You get odd looks on a bike from many motorists at that hour. I wonder if drivers are relieved as they near that I’m not some alien craft approaching out of the darkness.
From Riverside I’m faced with the first steady climb of the return trip, up Delta Avenue to Erie. I encountered maybe five or six vehicles opposed to a hundred or so over the same stretch earlier that evening. Erie Avenue presents a gradual descent into Madisonville. All that remained was the climb up Stewart Road to Kenwood. I cheated and turned right onto Ken Arbre Drive which offers a more gradual climb up to Montgomery Road in the direction of home! It’s 1:05am and I’m pumped from the ride. Time for a little Dragonvale!
The Take Away
I find rush hour on the secondary routes in Cincinnati to be generally agreeable to biking. Google Maps is your friend. The bicycle routes it generates will keep you on streets with lighter traffic and/or wider shoulders.
One mental health benefit of biking, especially during rush hour is, traffic or not, you move at a relatively consistent speed; no road rage! Interestingly, some drivers will illogically direct a bit of road rage at you for riding in traffic. Presumably, they’d prefer you were in your car ahead of them in traffic.
I’m 52 and quite a bit above my target weight. Cincinnati is not Aspen but it is hilly in spots. I’ll wager your community is similar. A tiny bit of planning can yield a comfortably bike-able route. Give biking a try. What do you have to lose except a few, expendable grams of fat? If you like it you’ll instantly be improving our environment, your health, traffic congestion and your checking account balance!