Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Do-It-Yourself Cleveland/Cuyahoga BikeTrip.

Sunrise from the rooftop patio at The Cleveland Hostel.

   Whew! This is one of my favorites by a large margin. There are so many things to see and do, you will be pressed to even get through this abbreviated itinerary in the two nights and two days recommended. The plan involves leaving work on a Friday afternoon and driving north on 71 in to the Ohio City neighborhood on Cleveland's storied West Side. Get unpacked, then stroll up to the rooftop patio at your weekend HQ, and see who and what is happening! Enjoy the sweeping vista overlooking downtown Cleveland's skyline, and the amazing "Guardians Of Transportation" that anchor the historic Loraine-Carnegie Bridge ( for more details).
The Guardians Of Transportation stand strong against the elements in Cleveland.
One of the many nice things about staying at The Cleveland Hostel is the second floor kitchen. It doesn't hurt that just across the street is the fabled West Side Market. Between the market and the kitchen sticking to dietary restrictions is a snap for those who need to do so. Visit for details and hours of operation. Take cash and work on your negotiating skills!
Fresh produce and a variety of ethnic foods await the senses at the West Side Market.

The fully stocked kitchen at The Cleveland Hostel is ready for your inner foodie. Grab essentials from the market to save money and eat healthy if you so desire.

The beautiful clock tower puncturing the sky at the West Side Market. This is the focal point of the Ohio City neighborhood.

 For those of us who more closely resemble an all-consuming Whale Shark, the neighborhood is packed with great restaurants and bars to replenish calories. Check out the Koffie Cafe at 2521 Market Avenue, (216) 861-2233 for an early, pre-ride Saturday morning bagel or egg sandwich and a cup of coffee. Look for it right across the alley from Great Lakes Brewing Company. Once properly fueled, grab that bike and hit the road! 

Saturday's route is breathtaking. The link to the ride route will be listed at the bottom of the page, along with Sunday's route.  I would recommend a GPS enabled bike computer so that you can upload the route directly to the unit and have it walk you through the ride. Store faves are the Garmin Touring or the Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 GPS. Both retail for under $300 and are spectacular at what they do. The ride starts right out of the Hostel, and you roll down through the neighborhood and right to the doorstep of The Christmas Story House. It's less than three miles away, and is a fun way to begin the day. Check hours and details at
Janis Jett rides past the leg lamp window of The Christmas Story House en route to the National Park.

Just a short distance down the road is a fast descent down the bike path and along the rail lines to the trail head for Cuyahoga National Park. Look for remnants of the old lock system that carried boats laden with goods from Akron to Lake Erie while riding. You will also see lots of animals, and the occasional CVNP Scenic Railway train depot. Use the depots as shelters from seasonal thunderstorms as needed, or if tired jump on one and take a ride! Only $3 a ticket for cyclists, and they will load and unload that bike for you! Trains have food, drink, and restrooms for the weary. Visit for railway details and schedules.

The small village of Boston Mill is always a trailside favorite. A museum, restrooms, and a nice cafe called "Trail Mix" await you. For the adventurous, you can stay the night (with a reservation) at the historic Stanford House, a quasi B & B operated by the park service. Clean rooms in an historic home and free breakfast are not a bad way to spend a night in the park. Check out for details. 
The large lock in Peninsula is a wonder of 19th century engineering.

October is the best time in the park.

Pushing south you roll across a marsh with an elevated wooden bikeway that runs for roughly 3/4 of a mile. It's pretty amazing, and you cruise right up in to Peninsula while riding through and over a series of the locks along the old system. Pull out in Peninsula for a drink at The Winking Lizard if needed. If not, ride over the massive lock and continue south along the trail.
The wooden trail platform south of Boston Mill.

Marshes and locks, quarries and bridges await as you head south towards Szaley Farm. Their website,, will provide the necessary info for a visit. The corn maze here is outstanding, as are the food offerings. This a nice place for a break before riding over to the Everett Road covered bridge just across the old highway. It's at this point that you can choose to ride back along the towpath trail, or follow the map directions and roll back along the eastern edge of the park. 
The Everett Road covered bridge is always a ride favorite.

Once east of Peninsula, you jump the old rail-trail (paved) to beautiful Brandywine Falls. Here you will find viewing platforms and a restroom/water stop. Depending on regional rainfall, it's either a raging torrent or a trickle, but still worth the trip. Leaving the falls you begin a very low grade ascent up to the Sagamore Hills neighborhood. This will eventually put you at the gateway to Tinker's Creek Gorge State Park. You won't be long here, as we make a hard left and drop back down to the valley floor for the final push home along the Cuyahoga River. The river is one of a very select few that run NORTH, which always manages to mess with my sense of direction.
Brandywine Falls in all it's glory.

Once back in the valley floor, we head north toward the Hostel the way we came in. Get back to your room, shower, and get and libations await! My favorite post-ride spot (not counting the rooftop patio) is the tiki bar just south of the Hostel on 25th st, PORCO'S! Chorizo tacos and drinks that you are only allowed one of make those weary legs perk right up. Dead puffer fish lamps and bamboo everything make you feel like you are aboard the Kon Tiki with Thor Heyerdahl. Check out hours of operation at
The Mind Eraser, Level 2 from Porco's.
Closer to the hotel you will find Great Lakes Brewing Co. They have a perfect outdoor patio for a summer or fall evening of burgers and pints. The "Burning River" is my favorite (mostly due to my being a dork for history), and the sunset view across the street to the clock tower is just stellar. Be sure to grab a six pack for the rooftop patio later! Check out for up to date beer offerings and menu selections. 

Ohio City also features fan faves like Nano Brew and Market Garden Brewery. Nano Brew is a cycling-centric bar that has a HUGE wooden Jenga game in the back, along with a bike repair stand and plenty of tools for the bike tourist/commuter. Market Garden has an unbelievable pork chop dinner and their beer taps are hand-made renditions of the Guardians Of Transportation. They sell by the growler too, so WATCH OUT! The links to these fine watering holes are and

The taps at Market Garden Brewery.
Sunday always hurts a little bit, and NOT because of the riding from Saturday. Wake up a little late, have breakfast and get on the bike. This day, head north on 25th, then east along the route (listed below) to hit the waterfront homes along Lake Erie. We ride to Rocky River today, home of Sue Johansen's "Wild Flour Bakery." Her facility provides most of the tasty treats for the high end hotels and restaurants in the area. Check out a sweet treat at

The Rocky River gorge is a blast, and the bike trail is part of the larger Emerald Necklace trail loop throughout northern Ohio. Since Sunday is a recovery ride, the route just becomes an out and back so you can get a shower and pack out before 2p.m. On the way back home there are a couple of nice parks with sweeping vistas of the lake and Cleveland proper. Look for the large howitzer, ride it like a bronco and take a photo. Use the hashtag #curattiing so we can see that you found it!

Get to the Hostel, pack it up, and get home before dinner. You will beg for more once the legs recover, and with so many other great options in Cleveland for ride routes and fun, you will return often. Hope to see you on the rooftop! I hope this helps make the adventure a little easier.

Saturday's long route link via Cuyahoga National Park is found here

Sunday's shorter ride route to Rocky River is here..