Bike Butt

Man in suit riding a bike

CC Bubba

This past weekend was Week 5 of my annual trek up the Little Miami Bike Trail, and this weekend, I rode the section known as the Loveland Bike Trail. This week’s segment took me 14 miles to a railroad town gone to seed called Morrow. It’s a trip I’ve made many times before. However, last week, my aging bike seat came apart as I returned to my car from Loveland. I probably should have replaced it when I had the bike tuned up this spring. But it was so comfortable.

Anyway, as the Loveland Bike Trail is part of one of the longer segments of my annual ride, I dropped the bike off to have the seat replaced, picked it up midweek, and was ready to ride. Right?

Wrong. During last week’s ride, someone pointed out that I needed to raise my seat, so I took care of that when I got the bike home. Not even 100 yards into the ride and my seat slid down to the frame. My bad. I’m not really handy with tools. One trip to the hardware store later, and I was on my way with my seat up where it was supposed to be.

Only the bike shop did not do their part of the job properly. Half a mile up the trail, and the seat had rocked back. Fortunately, I had my crescent wrench with me. That worked for raising and lowering the seat, so it should work for tightening the seat itself into place.

Loveland Bike TrailWell, no. No it wouldn’t. I had the nut tightened on the seat as hard it would go. About 10 miles up the trail, the seat had my nuts tightened. I later told Nita she no longer had to worry about me getting her pregnant. (She was not amused.) So what should have been a 2 hour ride became three because I had to periodically stop and adjust the angle of my seat.

I made the round trip – 26 miles in all. However, my ass felt like I’d sat on a metal bar for three hours. In Loveland, I headed over to Paxton’s for lunch and a beer. Along the way, I passed the bike rental place. The sign listed repairs. I went in and asked.

“We stopped doing repairs last season because we don’t have time to spend on it.” The bike rental place was always crowded.

“Oh,” I said. “I just need the seat tightened.”

“Really?” said the girl behind the counter, clearly younger than my stepson, who graduated high school two years earlier. “That’s two wrenches. Is the bike with you?”

Ten minutes later, the bike was comfortable and ready for another ride.

Too bad the bike shop didn’t get it right the first time (They usually do.) Sunday morning as I type this, even the recliner is giving me saddle sores.

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Bicycle!

Earlier this year, I made it my mission to walk the entire length of the Little Miami Trail from the Ohio River to Xenia, even the parts that haven’t been built yet.  This included a section of the proposed Ohio River Trail from downtown to just past Lunken Airport, where it will intersect with the southern end of the Little Miami Trail.  This entailed walking though Sawyer Point and Berry Park, up an old railroad track to Lunken, around the bike trail on Lunken, and through an undeveloped park known as the Margish Preserve.  Margish proved problematic as the Little Miami floods in late winter and early spring.

Once I reached the actual trail with a minimum of trespassing, I made pretty good time doing a section each weekend until I reached Loveland.  The section between a hamlet called Miamiville and Loveland, it took much longer than anticipated.  Guess what.  I’m old.  I don’t hike as well as I used to.

Ah, but in Loveland, there’s a bike rental shop along the trail.  And I’d taken the Nitamobile, a 2003 Santa Fe, to Miamiville that day.  It was late in the afternoon, and I needed to get home.  What the hell?  I rented a back and rode back to Miamiville.  My two-and-a-half hour hike took twenty minutes.  I threw the bike in the back of the Nitamobile and dropped it off back at Loveland.

And had an epiphany.

It would take me all summer to finish the trail, and the last two sections would be walked in mid-July.  The last time I walked to this tiny little burg called Spring Valley, it was 90 degrees, I had no water, and the one open store in town did not take plastic.  I had to walk to the nearest gas station, a mile away uphill.  A 14-mile hike turned into a 19-mile hike because yours truly thought there might be a gas station further up the trail.  No.

But there were bike rental places in Morrow, 13 miles north of Loveland, and Corwin, near the area’s annual Renaissance Fair.  So I rented again three more times.

Two things:  The bike with the padded seat was easier to handle than the other two bikes.  Yes, horse riders are not the only ones who get saddle sore.  Also, it’s better to blow through Spring Valley at 10-12-15 mph than to stroll into town and realize you have no cash on you.  I made it from Loveland to Xenia in three trips.  (The weather was terrific all three days I rode.)

After completing my trip, I realized the best way for me to get into shape would be on a bicycle.  I needed a bike.  But the latest and greatest bikes run anywhere from $400-$800, and that’s slumming it.  A new Huffy or Schwinn can be had for less than $300, but still a bit pricey at a time I’m already spending on a new Droid, car repairs, and various other projects.

Then one day a couple weeks ago, I walked into a Salvation Army on a lark.  Did they have a second-hand bike in decent condition?  They did.  A green Huffy with its tires intact.  The only damage was a frayed gear cable.  I took it to the bike shop around the corner from Chateau Nita.  The bike was $48.  The shop fixed the cable and replaced the seat with a softer one.  I spent less than $100.  Granted, I won’t become Lance Armstrong on this bike, but now I have a new exercise option.

And even thirty years after I last regularly rode a bike, I haven’t forgotten how to ride.