- 10:42 am - Fri, Jun 6, 2014
- 1 note
Join us for some fun bike rides this June!
- 4:34 pm - Thu, Jun 5, 2014
- 122 notes
To read our account of SBW Rides West and the Oregon Outback, click here.
- 6:35 pm - Fri, May 16, 2014
- 2 notes
Swallow Bicycle Works Rides West
What we are doing.
Today we embarked on a westbound journey to ride our bikes in unfamiliar territory. Unfamiliar in the sense that we will be riding further than we have ever gone in places we have never been. Don’t worry; the shop is still open for business! Go in there and talk to Doug, John, Lennice or D.A. about your next big ride.
Two specific rides draw us out of our normal life as bicycle shop owners by weekday, and bicycle adventurists by weekend, the Almanzo 100, and Oregon Outback. These two rides share more than riding challenging distances and terrain; they share a common community, a community that we feel some connection with, and a community that we find is growing in our small pocket of Southwest Ohio. Like our own rides, the Almanzo 100 (held in Minnesota) and Oregon Outback (held in Oregon, obviously…) provide riders with an organized, but informal, setting to tackle a challenging route in which the riders must support themselves. Oh, and they are also free to do. For us, these rides give us an opportunity to ride routes in new places without having to worry about the potential for a five-mile, six creek, hike-a-bike (see our Hocking Hills Overnight write-up), allowing us to fully enjoy and focus on the challenge at hand: purely riding our bikes. More importantly than the convenience, are the people that we meet during these rides. These people are from all walks of life, some are racers, some are not, some ride road bikes, some ride mountain bikes, some ride cyclocross bikes, and some ride a hybrid of all three. The common thread that connects all these people is their desire to ride bikes and experience some element of adventure over long distances and interesting terrain. We are going West to participate in these unique rides to not only challenge ourselves physically and mentally, but to gain insight on a culture we wish to help grow at home.
Below we have included a rough riding itinerary of our trip. If you are interested, the best way of following along will be through Twitter (@swallowbicycle) or Instagram (@swallowbicycleworks and #sbwrideswest). If you are reading this from one of the places or rides we are headed to, we would love to meet! E-mail us at email@example.com. Finally, if you wish to track our riding status during the Oregon Outback starting Friday, May 23, you should be able to do so at, https://www.trackleaders.com/oregonoutback14.
Saturday, May 17: Almanzo 100, MN
Monday, May 19: Going to the Sun Road, MT
Wednesday, May 21: Portland, OR
Friday, May 23- ?? Oregon Outback, OR
Saturday, May 31: Mohican 100, OH
- 2:00 pm - Wed, May 14, 2014
- 2 notes
Highlands Passage Recap
Film photography by Adam Lytle
On Sunday, a group of more than 30 cyclists road together on the second annual Highlands Passage, a 108 and 35 mile ride on primarily paved roads from the Red River Gorge region of Daniel Boone National Forest, around Cave Run Lake and back. Some had done this ride, or one of the rides we have put on before, and some were new to the experience. These rides are an informal opportunity for large groups to ride long, challenging routes together in scenic places. In our case, informal means that there is no sag vehicle supporting the cyclists with water, food, or mechanical services, and also no fee. Every rider is responsible for themselves and their bicycle. In the spirit of giving large group rides freedom, we provide each individual with a map and cue sheet of the route. This gives individuals and groups the opportunity to ride their own pace and stop when they would like to stop and allows folks to “race for glory” (as there are no prizes), or simply set out on their own soul ride with new and existing friends.
Film photography by Adam Lytle
We like this ride because it reminds us of what is great about where we live. The landscape is rich with diverse features, particularly in the Gorge region and out near Cave Run Lake with scenic vistas of sandstone cliffs, and roads that run through man-blasted canyons. There are also four clearly defined seasons. Highlands Passage gives us an excuse to visit Red River Gorge during Spring which offers a rain forest-esque experience with the constant sound of running water, humid air, ferns, and deep green jungle like plants that hide large mossy sandstone rocks with broad leaves. There are not many places like it. If you live in the city, these particular rides simply remind you that weekend riding trips are totally within reach.
These rides are long and challenging. We like long rides because they allow everyone to show their strengths.Those who are not fast can show their endurance. Those who are fast can share the work. Some people have hidden talents that only become apparent when a particular opportunity arises, such as a sandy corner on a descent, or an off-road short-cut through a construction zone.
On this particular day, we rolled out on the ride together, embarking on a common route. We shared water, tubes, food, and sunscreen, and rolled on like some sort of haphazard bike family. Some of us took a cool dip in Cave Run Lake and some of us had foot tall ice-cream cones. We also watched a few riders push on through their first 100-plus mile ride.
Miguel’s Pizza, a rock climbing shop that happens to offer delicious “build your own pizza’s,” is the light just beyond the end of the literal tunnel as riders pass through the Nada Tunnel at mile 102 (or 30 if you did the 36 mile route), it is all down hill from there, kind of… Riders relaxed on picnic tables eating the wonderfully non-gourmet pizza, spending some quality time with one another in a very stationary way. Thanks to everyone who joined us and made it a great day!
Check out the rest of our photos on flickr, here!
- 10:41 am - Wed, May 7, 2014
This is the final update for Highlands Passage. The ride will be taking place this Sunday, May 11 at 9:00 AM. Whether you are riding 36 miles or 108, you are in for a memorable day! We look forward to riding with you. Here is some updated information for you to review as you finalize your plans.
We will depart from Miguel’s Pizza Parking Lot at 9:00 AM. Please note that their parking lot is extremely limited and is available on a first come first serve basis. If it looks full, consider parking here and riding your bike over to meet us.
For a PDF file of the route map and cue sheet, click here.
Official GPS route links: 36 Mile and 108 Mile
Familiarize yourself with the cue sheet and map as these are your tools for planning your stops, and navigating the route on your own.
*Remember to bring a front and rear light for Nada Tunnel
*36-Mile Participants: Aside from the occasional natural spring or drinking fountain, your only water/fuel stops will be at mile 6.8 and 34.8. Come prepared with enough water!
This ride is 100% self-supported meaning you are responsible for yourself and your bike. If something goes wrong; you bonk, get a mechanical, run out of water, etc. It is up to you to self-rescue. By joining us on this ride, you are acknowledging this responsibility.
Self-paced vs. Riding with us!
A lot of you are coming down to ride with friends. Go your own pace and ride within your limits. If you are riding in a group, keep an eye out for one another. This route is challenging so expect a long day.
For those of you interested in riding with us on the 108 mile route, expect a pace that will be quick at times and casual at other times. We like to take in the sights, but we also enjoy pedaling hard and feeling the momentum of the road. We will be stopping for mechanicals if we come across them, and regrouping at major turns. Please let us know if you intend to ride with us so we know to keep an eye out for you. Be prepared with a back-up plan in case our pace is not comfortable for you.
We will have t-shirts with a graphic illustration of the Highlands Passage route available at the ride. These are printed in Cincinnati on super comfy American Apparel tri-blend t-shirts and designed by local artist, Mary Lytle. Grab one from us for $20 before or after the ride!
When you complete the ride we suggest riding right up to Miguel’s Pizza and placing your order. Typically the wait time is 15-30 minutes so that gives you some time to change and put bikes away etc. Click here to view their menu ticket and start planning for your mouth watering pizza. NOTE: Miguel’s Pizza is located in a dry-county. For those of you bringing alcoholic beverages for after the ride, bring your “party cups” and please be respectful to the local businesses.
- 10:00 am - Wed, Apr 23, 2014
- 4 notes
Location: Athens, Ohio
Last weekend Tom, Mary and I geared up for our final pre-ride/camp-out before we head out West for Oregon Outback (a 360-mile dirt road ride across Oregon). I have always wanted to explore the appalachian landscape, and glacial cave systems out near Hocking Hills so what better way to explore the region than high mileage bike ride. My goal with the route was to include as much dirt and distance as possible to get us ready for what our first day goal for the Oregon Outback is; to reach The Cowboy Dinner Tree for our 7:30 PM reservation (115 miles of dirt roads in under 12 hours).
Day one was tough. I had planned for us to ride about 90-ish miles west of Athens, to Tar Hollow, then north to Hocking Hills from there. At mile 15 we hit what looked like a fantastic double track gravel rail-trail, the catch was that all the train bridges that once crossed the deep creek gullies had been removed. Rather than turning back and taking a major paved detour around the trail, we all chose to push forward, a decision that ultimately made for a lot of hike-a-biking, 6 creek crossings, a 3-hour time penalty, and more water consumption than what we had planned for that distance. At mile 30, it was 3 o’clock, we were running low on water, and had (what we thought at the time, “only” 60 miles to go…). At this point we were solely focused on finding easy water and going the distance. We found salvation at a glorious water spigot in Tar Hollow which would be the only water we would take until mile 90. Gradually, night rolled in, hiding the landscape from view. We could easily feel that we were nearing Hocking Hills as the grades became steeper, and steeper (13-25% grades with heavy bikes!!). I wish we could have seen some of those roads in daylight. Climbing steep, loose, cat litter gravel, and then bombing down the backside becomes a different, smoother, blacker thing in the cool night. Our headlights flashed scenes of rock walls dripping wet and fern covered as we pressed on in survival mode. The whole time I was thinking “my mom and dad are going to kill me for torturing my sister like this!” but the kid won’t crack. She’s tough stuff.
After becoming one with the hills, we setup camp at 10:30 PM, enjoyed luxury camping with our 3-person tent, inflatable sleeping matts, inflatable pillows, more food than we needed, and a bathroom nearby. Ultimately, we rode about 100 miles (due to a few more detours along the way) for a little over 12 hours (including the hike-a-bike). I like to think that we increased our relative toughness scale by a healthy percentage.
Day two was a luxury day compared to day one with perfect weather, perfect scenery, a Bob Evan’s binge stop, ultimately making our 70-mile day a typical joyful bike ride. I fell in love with the narrow, punching roller-coaster gravel roads throughout Hocking and Vinton County. If you have never been out there- check it out! Although, don’t say I didn’t warn you about this particular route…
We rode the bikes as pictured above with frame mounted bags from Porcelain Rocket and Revelate Designs. In our experience with loaded riding, bags like this handle loads well on and off road, quietly, without sacrificing ride quality. They also create a very compact, organized packing system. I was experimenting with a basket and rack built by Tom which worked great and allowed for a lot more capacity, which I used, and it was a bit front-end heavy to lug up steep hike-a-bike sections. In the bags we split the weight of a 3-person tent, each carried our own food, sleeping bag, mat, pillow, water (2500 ml each), lights, and basic necessities.
So like anything we do, we encourage you to try it out! If this seems at all interesting to you then why not select a do-able route for you and a friend to tackle. Most folks already have some camping equipment. You don’t have to go far, just go somewhere fun!
- 9:51 pm - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
- 1 note
We build a fair share of wheels here.
- 3:08 pm - Wed, Apr 9, 2014
- 1 note
Join us on May 11 for the second annual Highlands Passage through Daniel Boone National Forest!
Date and Time: 9:00 AM on Sunday, May 11, 2014
Start Location: Miguel’s Pizza off of Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY.
Terrain: Paved roads with a 10 mile section of hard packed gravel.
Statistics: 108 miles and approximately 7000 ft. of climbing OR 36 miles and 2,400 ft. of climbing.
For more details about the ride, click here!
- 2:52 pm - Thu, Mar 20, 2014
- 2 notes
Tomorrows rider course topic will be chains! Join us at 6PM to learn all you would ever need or want to know about chains and chain care including installation, sizing, wear and damage, cleaning, and lubrication. BYOB and BYOB (bring your own beer and bike!).
- 6:21 pm - Fri, Mar 7, 2014
A group of riders gathered together for what would be our first non-snow ride of the season. The occasion was the Ridgetop Ramble, a self-supported social gravel ride through Shawnee State Forest. There were two routes available for folks to choose from this year. The 100k route with nearly 7,500 ft of climbing was designed to show the diverse beauty of Shawnee State Forest, to reveal the full damage of a hard winter upon your fitness, and to highlight the climbing available in Southern Ohio. It is a brutal little route without a doubt. The second option was a 70K route with a 4,500 ft of climbing designed for those looking for a fun day of mixed terrain in a beautiful place.
After the snow covered roads thawed for the first time in a month, we met at the Shawnee State Park Lodge on a beautiful nearly 50 degree morning with blue skies. We had a great turn out of folks from all over Ohio.
The ride started with spirits high to be spinning our legs outside under the sunshine. The soggy roads were evident from the beginning on lower elevation roads. This increased our efforts and decreased our speeds on the flats, making us long for the increase in elevation ahead, where the roads would be dry.
We road on in a natural rhythm of climbing and descending, which is all you do at Shawnee. The further into the forest we got the rougher the roads became, the more flats occurred, and the darker the sky became. Rain was upon us and we needed to get moving. There were 20 miles to go. Our large group divided into three. The three groups would ultimately take various routes back to the parking lot as first, the rain rolled in, then sleet, then snow. Most folks finished the ride soaking wet in 30 degree temperatures. Only one group of four completed the entire route that day.
The 70K group looked like they had a great time! Check out Matt’s photos here.
Ultimately it was a terrific time to ride with a great group of folks willing to ride hard, for fun, in a beautiful place. Next ride up is, Highlands Passage, down in Daniel Boone National Forest! Save the date for May 11th, 2014.
- 5:58 pm - Fri, Feb 28, 2014
We are selling off our demo bikes and you should check the upcoming weather! For inventory and pricing, click here.
- 2:06 pm - Wed, Feb 12, 2014
The Ridgetop Ramble has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 23! Click here, for more details about the ride.
- 4:12 pm - Tue, Feb 11, 2014
- 56 notes
Join us this Friday, February 14 at 6PM for our second Rider Course! This Valentine’s Day bring your date (even if it’s just your bike), and learn how to wrap your handlebar tape so it lasts and looks good. Sound romantic? We think so!
We encourage you to bring your bike to this course!
For more info on our rider courses, click here.
- 2:08 pm
- 2 notes
Ridgetop SNOW Ramble
The Ridgetop Ramble is best enjoyed as a gravel ride. Gravel rides can be mud covered, dusty, cold, hot, and any way you like, but when we arrived at Shawnee State Forest the gravel had disappeared. With a healthy 8-10” of snow covering the forest roads, we made the call to postpone the Ridgetop Ramble and make good use of the white stuff.
The snow changes everything. The terrain develops a micro-character as tracks develop on the snow and ice. As your eyes drift over a landscape that will change before the next ride, a frozen mud rut, left during warmer days, calls your attention back to the surface under the tires. Tracks from four-wheel-drive machines are tempting. They offer the legs a bit of rest, but the deep ice-edged tracks, are just like a game of “Operation”, touch an edge and you’re out!
Ride plans may change, but a proper day out, upon any terrain, is always worth the trip! We hope you were able to get out despite the change of plans and we look forward to riding the Ridgetop Ramble with you as soon as the snow melts. Stay posted!