Global Warming: The Cycling Upsides

February has been unusually warm and that has made for a great month of cycling.  While I would usually be stuck in my basement on a trainer, this month I have ridden outside 100% of the time.

On February 11th, I raced in the 3rd Fat Bike Race (mountain bike division) at Chestnut Ridge.  It was warm and sunny and despite being in the middle of winter, I was able to race in a jersey and shorts.  While everyone was hoping for snow, this was definitely the second best scenario.  Course conditions were muddy and slippery, but I did a good job of finding traction and kept my bike upright the whole time.  I finished 1st of 16 in my division with my Breakaway Quickdirt Trek teammate, Mike Whaley, finishing second.  We edged out two cyclocross guys and it was fun to have the XC vs CX battle.  I’m going to miss the 4th and final race in the series this weekend, but I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up.  Will more CX folks sign up?  Who will take my open spot on the podium.  I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures and results on Combo’s Facebook page.

James Knott races at Chestnut Ridge

Just your typical February day in Ohio – shorts and jersey.  Conditions were muddy on the short track course at Chestnut Ridge Metropark, but at least I was warm!

I even grew a beard, starting in January, to keep my face warm on cold winter rides.  It has come in handy several times this winter, but lately it’s starting to feel a little ridiculous.  After looking at the upcoming weather, I’m thinking about shaving it sooner rather than later.

Yesterday, I went on a really cool ride.  I saw that the weather was once again going to be beautiful and I knew I wanted to get outside.  My family was heading to the Coco Key Waterpark in Newark, Ohio for a birthday party.  This ended up being the inspiration for a great ride.  I packed up my bike and decided to ride home from the waterpark.  I didn’t plan a route.  I knew it would be at least 35 miles, but with the weather being so nice, I knew I would throw in some extra adventures along the way.  I found a bike path that went from the waterpark to Johnstown.  On the upside the path was scenic and relaxing.  The downside was that it was very flat, so I wasn’t getting a good vertical workout.

I stopped in downtown Granville to look around and it seems like a really cool town – quaint and charming with very cool architecture.  I climbed a huge hill to the campus of Denison University, which has some amazing views.

Bike path in Granville, Ohio

This convenient bike path took me about 17 miles towards my home.

Downtown Granville, Ohio

Downtown Granville was very cool. I want to head back sometime for dinner and a beer at Three Tigers Brewing Company.

Angry sign on bike path

I found this sign along the bike path. It made me chuckle. Why can’t we all just get along?

After the bike path, I noticed signs for “Alternate Bike Route 50”.  I had never heard of this before, but I figured they would be good to follow since they were heading west, straight towards my home.  This bike route follows mostly quiet country roads and is a great route to take if you are looking for a good road ride.

Alternate Bike Route 50 sign

If you see these signs, follow them.   They take you on cycling friendly roads.

Bike ride map of Newark to Lewis Center

When I got closer to home, I decided I wanted to hit an even half-century, so I stopped at Alum Creek P1 for a few extra miles on singletrack.  It was amazing the great shape that the trail was in for this time of year.  There were a few muddy spots, but it was 98 percent rideable and will be perfect if we get a few more days without rain.

What a great ride!  I highly recommend this route.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mike Whaley and I planned a trip to Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park for February 18th, thinking it would be a good escape from the cold weather.  But, it turned out to be a beautiful 60 degree day.  Everyone we knew was riding outside.  We opted to go to Ray’s anyways as a change of pace.  So much fun!

When I first got there though my riding was all off.  I’m not sure if it was the flat pedals or the enclosed spaces, but I did not have my mojo going.  I wimped out on several lines.  I was not aggressive on the jumps.  I got stage fright in the expert section when everyone was watching (and Heath was videoing).  Luckily, by the end of the day I started to get back to my regular self.  I was riding faster and catching air (although not as much as Whaley and Keith Neel).  It got me pumped to go back!  I love Ray’s!

Click here to see some good options for flat pedals for your next trip to the bike park.

James Knott and friends at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park

We had a great group of riders at Ray’s. There was a special IMBA event being hosted by AOA. Thanks for the Nooner!

One final note, I am working on setting up an official bike work shop in my basement.  I’m only half way there, but I think it has a lot of potential.  For the last year or two, I have been using the Better Beer Authority studio (this was a weekly beer review talk show that I used to produce) to store all my bike stuff.  This week I began cleaning out my basement and tearing down the studio to make room for other activities in our life.  With all the room I am clearing out, there will be plenty of space for a bike work shop and a movie man cave.  So, if I go silent here on Quickdirt for a few weeks, it might be because I am getting the basement in order.

And… bringing it back to the nice weather…  It has been a little strange to be spending so much time in the basement when it’s so nice out.

Better Beer Authority studio

BEFORE: Here is the studio where I used to produce the Better Beer Authority. Notice all the bike stuff cluttering it.

Wendel Knott works on the basement

My son Wendel was a great helper.

Better Beer Authority studio being town down

AFTER: The backdrop is all cleared out. I am going to modify the desk and make it my work bench for the bike.

Future bike work shop

This is the home of the new bike work shop. There will be more shelves, a workbench, bike stand, beer fridge and a pegboard to hang some tools. I’m also going to work on having better lighting.

That’s bike life for February.  I’m heading to Vegas in a few days and I’ll be back in March.  Can’t wait for the first OMBC race at Mohican on March 18th and Barry Roubaix a week later.  Hope to see you there!

Click here to see prices and reviews for the Park Tools bike stand that I use.