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KEEP ON ROLLING Before you put the bike away, try this ride in the country -- with plenty to see and do

All good things don't have to come to an end when the weather turns colder.

Take bicycling, for example. While many of you are planning that last great ride of the season, you're probably also wondering how to get your "ride on" during the months ahead.

Maybe it's the aerobic workout that has you hooked, not to mention those defined legs that have taken you up so many hills. Almost nothing beats the fresh air and bird's-eye view of the countryside during a fall bike ride, and do we have one for you. The 32-mile country ride that winds through Lockport and Middleport was created by Alex Setlick for the Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club. It features a stretch along the old Erie Canal, a stop at a pumpkin farm and winery, and a view of a herd of elk.

Yes, elk.

Even after you hang your bike up for the season -- make sure to clean it first -- you may still feel the need for a spin. Why not grab a water bottle and head for your fitness club?

Spinning classes for every skill level can be found at clubs throughout the Buffalo Niagara region. Offered early morning, midday, after work or weekends these classes will give you a pumped-up cardio exercise that builds stamina, burns calories and -- melts stress.

"I tell people they can beat the stress of life by spinning," said Cherry Atkinson, certified spinning instructor at Gold's Gym. "Get it out. Ride it out. Whatever kind of day you have had, for this one hour you have peace."

>The ride outside

Lockport's Nelson C. Goehle "Widewaters" Marina is the starting spot for the 32-mile bicycle ride that cycling enthusiast Setlick described as "a nice basically easy ride with a few minor climbs."

Allow three hours -- at a leisurely pace of 10 mph -- and bring a bike bag that can hold a bottle of wine. You'll be cycling past a fine winery, Vizcarra Vineyards.

The first leg of the trip parallels the canal and features a neat look at the towpath, the runway used by mules to tow barges. Appreciate the vista. You'll be seeing it again on the return trip.

Spend seven miles on Ridge Road, also known as Route 104, and be prepared for orchard after orchard with trees that last Monday were decked out with beautiful red apples. Elk, too, were seen grazing in a field on the afternoon we biked along Ridge, a semibusy country highway with a wide shoulder.

"Easy rollers" was the term Setlick used to describe the gentle hills we climbed. "If you can bicycle over the Thruway on a bridge, you won't have a problem with this ride," he said.

Setlick suggested Becker Farms for the first rest stop, about one-third through the ride. With baked goods, cider and fudge, Becker Farms is a great place to refuel -- and the Pumpkin Festival provides a nice diversion.

Other points of interest include the cobblestone First Universalist Church on Church Street in Middleport. Built in 1841, it is located just past a great bistro on Main Street called Alternative Grounds Caffe. Note the coffee bean counter.

Along the route, there are at least two steel-deck bridges, which become extremely slippery when wet. If you feel uncomfortable crossing them, walk it.

One final caution: Nearing mile 27, you'll be on Cottage Street for one sweet 25 mph downhill ride. Beware: A fast downhill to a dead stop can be extreme, and the traffic on Route 31 is fast moving.

Setlick, who has bicycled 4,000 miles this summer, uses a van to transport his carbon fiber bicycle, secured to the floor by its frame with toggle clamps. The bicycle absorbs the road vibrations well, is lightweight and accelerates well from a standstill. Setlick keeps a tube of Super Glue in the van in the event his bicycle tires crack during the ride.

>Storage tips

So you have stretched the cycling season as far as you comfortably could, and decided it's time to put your bicycle away for the season. Before you walk it into the garage and wedge it in its resting place, read on. Tom Lonzi of Tom's Pro Bike has some tips on storing your bicycle so it's ready and rideable come spring.

Hang your bike if you can, advised Lonzi. Bikes stored upright on the floor may develop dry-rotted tires. Keep tires inflated fully during storage. They'll seep some air, according to Lonzi, but that's OK. Do not lower the tire pressure. If a tire loses all of its air, Lonzi said, it may not seat right and that could mean flat tires.

Clean your bike before putting it away. Wipe it down and maybe wax it.

"I've had people put them away wet, after they go out for a fall ride in the rain," Lonzi said. "The chain will definitely rust."

Lubricate chains and sprocket with a teflon-based lubricant such as Tri-Flow because it permeates well. Don't overdo it, and wipe off the access.

Ideally, the storage area should not be too dry or too moist. Moist basements can lead to rusty bikes.

"We've had people put their bike in their furnace room or next to the dryer, and that heat isn't good," said Lonzi.



>Get in the spin

Spinners stay in place, control their pace and do not lose their balance. It's up to the instructor to make the class come alive.

"When you're in a spinning class, it's an imaginary world," said Cherry Atkinson of Gold's Gym. "Outdoor cyclists are used to conquering the terrain, climbing the hill, seeing the scenery, feeling the wind. In a spinning class, you have to bring that to your mind. The instructor can take you there."

Spinning does not require coordination. You don't have to learn any moves. Joint problems? Runners will love the low-impact workout that spinning affords. Cyclists supplement their ride by spinning through the winter.

"It's one of the highest cardio workouts you can obtain in the gym," said Atkinson. "A lot of people are intimidated by it. A lot of men are intimidated. They want to strength train, work with weights, but once you get your endorphins and you're into it, it's exhilarating."

Not only that, spinning's power hour can burn up to 900 calories depending on how hard you ride. In adition to your heart muscle, spinning works quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Form is critical.

"Always watch your form. Relax your shoulders," Atkinson repeated. "Feet are flat. Legs up underneath your arms. Breathe in through your nose out through your mouth."

Even those who work out regularly will feel their leg muscles. If you want, just give the resistance knob a turn and decrease your pace.

"When I first tried it out, I tossed my cookies in my first class because I was trying to keep up with everyone," recalled Atkinson. "I never did a high cardio class. I hated it and I was embarrassed to go back."

New to spinning? You might want to invest in:

Gel Seat Cover: An extra layer of reactive gel and soft, open-cell padding provide a comfortable ride. $25

Sigg Water Bottle: Extruded from a single piece of aluminum, these water bottles are crack-resistant, reusable and recyclable. From $20 (

Heart Rate Monitor: This device makes it easier to achieve your target heart rate, allowing you to know exactly how hard your heart is working so you can adjust your pace accordingly. Models without the chest strap are sold for under $100.

-- Jane Kwiatkowski

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