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Issue Date: October 2012

Best of Cleveland 2012: Oddities

Steel Art

Lou Erste has a tough time describing the creations of Rust Belt Welding. But if you've spent any time in Ohio City, Gordon Square or Lakewood, you've likely seen Rust Belt's functional steel sculptures. Their custom bike racks in the shape of a cog or a flowing "216" can be found outside Rising Star Coffee Roasters, Joy Machines Bike Shop, Happy Dog, Market Garden Brewery and about a dozen other places around town. "It's a sign, it's a logo. It's not just a bike rack," says Erste. He and co-owner Grant Smrekar are both artists and bike enthusiasts who got their start making custom bike frames before adding railings, furniture and staircases to their repertoire. "Last summer was the beginning of the bike rack wave," says Erste. "And then, this summer it's just kind of blown up." Maybe that's because of the statement each piece makes about the business or neighborhood where it's located. "The more creative a project is, the more we want to do it," says Smrekar. Take the red B-I-K-E on the sidewalk outside Market Garden. The design is based off the lettering in the brewpub, and each letter's distinctive holes (for locking the bike) also evoke the light bulbs from a movie marquee. The rack took six people and about 45 minutes to find the perfect arrangement. "When you go down 25th Street, it's a major part of it," says Smrekar. 216-258-3781, 216-268-9547,

Exercise Hybrid

Carina Parr-Adams wants to kick-start your cross-training routine. Her SpyngaFlows yoga and spinning studio in Cleveland Heights was the first — and is still the only — one to offer the Toronto-developed workout craze in the States. A SpyngaFlow class starts with 30 minutes of fast-paced spinning on the stationary cycle to get your energy up, followed by 30 minutes of yoga on the mat to restore and calm your body. "It usually brings the yogis to cardio, and the cardio junkies stop to do some yoga," says Parr-Adams. Plus, breaking out of the same-old-exercise routine is crucial to maintaining the results you want. "When you do something different, you enliven the body and keep it moving. That's a healthy thing to do," says Parr-Adams, who also trains Cavs players for a few months after the season. The ballers do spinning followed by yen yoga, or deep tissue yoga, which opens up their tall bodies. 1846 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-965-0310,

Mobile Billboard

You drive by billboards all the time, yet you're probably not used to seeing one wheel past you. But this summer, Richard Nathanson became a familiar sight downtown and in Ohio City, pedaling a bicycle through the streets with a billboard trailing behind him. Nathanson, 54, has forsaken his past as a car dealer for a more eco-friendly business, the straightforwardly named Cleveland Bicycle Billboard Advertising. He started riding with ads for the Mexican restaurant Momocho and comedy shows at Hilarities. Now, with Channel 3 as a client and other major local institutions signing up, he's hiring riders and buying more trailers. "It's an eye-catcher," Nathanson says. "Everyone says, 'That's cool,' or, 'I want that job.' " 216-848-6876,

Library Technology

Christmas came early for the Cleveland Public Library this year. TechCentral, the innovative technology and learning center located in the lower level of the Louis Stokes Wing of the main library, opened in June with plenty of presents to lend. The Tech ToyBox allows patrons to check out devices such as an iPad 3, Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tablet for one week on a first-come, first-serve basis. "We're giving you something completely unlocked," says TechCentral manager CJ Lynce. "You actually go through the setup process and you can choose your own apps. You can learn what your specific needs would be." Users can also take advantage of the 3-D printer, which prints three-dimensional objects using plastic ink that's heated and built layer by layer. Items that have been printed so far include a whistle, a grocery bag holder and a mini treasure chest. "We're trying to craft this space into a make-your-own space and provide patrons with the tools to be creative, to take ideas and turn them into reality," says Lynce. 325 Superior Ave., Cleveland, 216-623-2980,

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