prof pic
me: Chris Cotton

When I lived in Kent, Ohio, I loved to ride on the bike trails and back roads in Portage and Summit Counties. I moved to Cleveland Heights one year ago, and I knew that I would miss those lovely rambles watching the cormorants roosting on the dead-tree island in Pippen Lake, racing the CSX freight trains above the Cuyahoga River, eating windfall apples on the edges of Beckwith’s Orchard.

So I was unprepared for the marvels I have discovered on my 27-year-old Trek Multi-Track 730. Some days, I get on my bike and think: what wonders will Cleveland lay before me today? Wade Chapel is a national treasure and could be, in my humble opinion, a Unesco World Heritage site. The Cultural Gardens along Rockefeller Park are a true garden of delights. Forest Hill Park in East Cleveland is one of the most beautiful city parks I have ever seen. There are houses and neighborhoods of stunning beauty, and grander architecture as well: Frank Gehry’s sparkling building at Case Western Reserve University, Eric Mendelsohn’s Park Synagogue. And interiors: from the expansive silence of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s atrium, to the intimate, idiosyncratic Algebra Tea House, a true house of dreams.

“The Valley of the Doan” is my name for the parallel watersheds of Doan Brook and Dugway Brook on the East Side of Cleveland. I apologize to Dugway partisans, but the name of that creek just doesn’t have the poetry of “Doan.” And while both creeks have sections underground, the Dugway is almost entirely buried, while the Doan is an important feature of the city’s geography. As for “valley,” which is certainly an exaggeration, the grandeur and variety of the cityscape simply overrules more accurate terms such as “ravine” or “gulch,” or even, “ditch.” In fact, to be brutally realistic, “culvert” would most often be the correct term. Nature’s beauty debased to a corrugated steel pipe. There’s a time when only poetry will serve, and the human world superimposed upon these two lovely creeks demands it. “The Valley of the Doan” sounds like a region of Westeros in the Game of Thrones. And you have to admit, it’s a hell of a lot better title than “Watersheds of the Doan and Dugway.”

And so, as your intrepid, velocipedic correspondent—your bold, bike-borne blogger—I take as my territory big chunks of the East Side: the cities of East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, and in Cleveland itself: Little Italy, University Circle, Glenville, St. Clair-Superior, Bratenahl, and the Cleveland Metropark’s Nature Preserve, Lakefront Reservation and East 72nd Street Fishing Area.