Monday, July 23, 2018

A light week

It's been a light week for riding because it's been a busy week for the rest of life. I was in Anaheim, California for a conference for 8 days. Mary came in for the second half of my stay. Being away from home for that long meant we couldn't get a ride in on our road bikes, although we did ride about 5 miles on beach cruisers in Huntington Beach. It was fun but very crowded.

Part of our crew riding through Cannonsburg on Sunday.
We got back late Thursday night so on Saturday I went out for a quick 15 mile ride on the White Pine Trail, just to see if I remembered how to ride. We also had a team ride planned for Sunday and I wanted to loosen up the muscles a bit.

Sunday's team ride was 31 very hilly miles north of Ada and west of Rockford. Our route started out by heading north on Honey Creek. Those who ride in this area know that's one of the hilliest roads around. After that we had several more hills as we made our way north toward Wabasis Lake. We came back past Gavin Lake and south on Parnell. Afterwards we had a pool party at our hosts the Taylors. They keep the pool very warm and it felt great after the ride.

So I got in 46 miles in two days or 10 days, depending on when you start counting.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A wet ride

We hosted the JDRF West Michigan team ride on Sunday. I charted out 25 and 40 mile loops that went north from our house out to the park on 13 Mile and Algoma. A lot of climbing just to get to that point, which was only 13 miles into the ride. We also had quite a bit of rain. It was dry, but threatening, when we started. The rain came about 4 miles into the route. Luckily it only lasted for about half the ride.

Shortly after the park there was a short cut for those who wanted to take the 25 mile option. They headed south on the White Pine Trail, which is a net downhill. So that group missed the very hilly second half of the route. We took 13 Mile out to Myers Lake Road and started heading south. Then for the next several miles we went back east, then a little south, then west, then a little south, then east, then south, eventually winding up on Cannonsburg Road, right near the ski resort. The last major climb of the day was the one mile long slog up Blakley. The reward for all that climbing was a very zippy trip down 7 Mile hill. I logged my top speed of the year at 40.7 MPH. A couple of teammates topped 42.

The reason I mention all the climbing is we are trying to get prepared for the ride in Santa Fe this November. The baseline elevation there is 7,199 feet above level. The ride organizers tell us we'll have about 5,000 feet of climbing on the 100 mile route. Our 40 mile route on Sunday had just over 2,000 feet of climbing. That's on-par with what we'll be doing in Santa Fe, but at basically sea level. As someone once said, "The only way to get good at climbing hills, is to climb hills."

Friday, June 1, 2018

Spring Riding

Had a couple of nice rides this past week. We spent Memorial Day weekend, as we usually do, at the Hayes cottage on Paw Paw Lake. On Sunday we did our traditional ride around the lake with the whole group. That was only 13 miles and for the past six weeks Mary and I have ridden at least 20 miles on every Sunday. So while the rest of the group stopped when we returned to the cottage, Mary and I continued on and did a different loop heading through the farm land east of the lake. That route took us through the town of Watervliet. We ended up with a little over 21 miles in 90 degree temperatures.

Yesterday I went out to JDRF teammate Tom Miller's house in Grand Haven for his Thursday night ride.There were about 20 people there. I rode with the slow group. We did 22 miles at an average speed of 17 mph. That's a bit faster than I usually ride, but it was a good time. The fast group rode 29 miles and I'm not sure of their pace, but they pulled away from our group pretty easily about 5 miles into the ride.

Now that the weather has apparently warmed up for good, I'm hoping to get out at least three times a week. My goal for this year is 1,500 miles and because of our lousy Spring I'm behind pace to hit that goal.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Spring has Sprung

Seasonable temperatures have finally returned to the upper Midwest. That means we can finally get out and ride without having to dress in fur-lined shorts and parkas. We've ridden two Sundays in a row, both times on the White Pine Trail.

The Triplets getting ready to ride. (l-r, Cindy, Linda, Mary)
A week ago Mary and I rode south from our house past Whitecaps ballpark, through Riverside Park, and turned around at Ann Street in Grand Rapids. An 18 mile round trip.

This past Sunday we took our first team ride of the year. 30 of our team mates showed up at Coach Char's house in the North Park area. We crossed the North Park bridge and then rode north on the WPT all the way to Rockford. With the nice weather we had to be very careful of pedestrians, roller bladers and dog walkers the closer we got to Rockford. Everyone rode well and safely and we returned to our starting point with 20 miles under our wheels. That was followed by a cook-out and hanging around in the sunshine.

6 months until we ride in Santa Fe.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Winter Won't Leave

The last time I posted was in January. That's mostly because I haven't ridden my bike since then. It's April 16 and there is snow on the ground.

My goal for this year was to ride 1,500 miles. When I got out for a ride late in January I thought I was going to easily make my goal. There was no riding in February, but that wasn't unexpected. It was winter in Michigan after all.  Usually in March we can get out a few times. There were a couple of nice days, but by the time I got home it was either getting dark or cold. Now it's April. We ALWAYS ride in April. We start team rides in early April. On April 15 the last two years I rode 20 and 32 miles respectively. But so far no rides in March or April.

There are some of my team mates that ride no matter what the weather. Although none of them were out in the ice, freezing rain, snow and sleet we had yesterday. I just want it to be over 50 and sunny. Is that so much to ask? Apparently it is this year.

Friday, January 26, 2018

First ride of the year

It was sunny and 51 degrees today so I got out for my first outdoor ride of 2018. It wasn't a long ride, just 12.5 miles on the White Pine Trail, but it was hard. I haven't been on the bike in a couple of months, either outside or on the trainer (I hate the trainer). After about three miles I was considering looping back home for a five mile ride. But that's seemed a little silly. So I pushed on, adjusting my route to head south instead of north. The wind had kicked up and it from the south west, so I wanted to ride into the wind while I was fresh. We'll fresh may not be the right word. As good as it felt mentally to be out in January, physically I'm not quite there yet.

We also signed up for our 14th JDRF Ride for a Cure. This year we will be riding in Santa Fe, New Mexico the first weekend in November. Baseline elevation is 7,000 feet and there is 7,000 feet of climbing. Looks like we are going to need to do hill training again this year. If you would like to support our ride you can make a donation to Mary by clicking here or Tom by clicking here. Or you can use the links over on the left side of this page. Thanks.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

So long to 2017

The last post of the year on the last day of the year. This appears to becoming a tradition. (Mostly because I've now done it twice in a row.) 2017 was a good year for me and my bicycle. I rode 1,221 miles and had no crashes. I did the full century ride at the JDRF Ride in Colorado and managed to get in a few metric and half centuries along the way.

JDRF Ride to a Cure in Loveland, Colorado.
Looking ahead to 2018, I'd like to up my mileage and my fitness level. Maybe it's because of the major birthday I had this past October, but I don't feel like I'm in as good of shape as I've been in the past. So I'm going to ride more this coming year, with a goal of at least 1,500 miles split between road and mountain biking. Mary and I have been doing some hiking, but we are going to do more frequent hikes and for longer distances. I also need to be more regular in my workouts. I've been working out three times one week and then not at all for three weeks. 2018 will see some changes there.

I hope that the new year brings joy and health to all my readers, and everyone else for that matter. I'm looking forward to a healthy and happy 2018. Peace.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Last ride of the year

Maybe I should say, probably the last ride of the year. Road cycling in Michigan in December is always a season ending bonus. Most years there would be snow on the roads and temperatures near freezing. This fall has been quite mild and yesterday was no exception. It was sunny, not windy, and about 50 degrees. So Mary and I saddled up our road bikes and headed to Rockford on the White Pine Trail. It was a leisurely ride since we haven't done any kind of riding in over a month. Still, it felt good to be out since the forecast calls for more seasonable conditions later this week. Plus, with the sun going down at 5:12 in the afternoon it's difficult to get a post-work ride in anymore. Soon I'll will be riding the nowhere bike, waiting for the snow to melt, and thinking about which JDRF ride we'll be doing in 2018.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mountain bike fun

By the shores of Crystal Lake.
Last weekend Mary and I celebrated our birthdays. We rented a secluded cabin on the southern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and spent the time doing fun outdoor activities. Our cabin was on Long Lake, just north of Crystal Lake near Frankfort. One morning we decided to ride our mountain bikes around Long Lake. That sounds simple but, like many smaller lakes in the north country, there is no single road that circumnavigates the lake.

We started by riding along M-22 on the northwest edge of the lake. We then followed the north side of Crystal Lake for several miles east. Even though we were technically going around Long Lake we couldn't see it during this part of the ride. We finally turned north and then had to head back to the west to get back to the edge of the lake. Then we found Cooper Road. Up to this point most of the ride had been on paved roads. Cooper was hard packed dirt that got softer as we rode along. I'm glad we were on the mountain bikes. The road kept getting more narrow and started looking more like someones driveway than a street. And then we saw the sign.

Believe it or not this is an official county road.
"Unimproved Road. The County does not plow this road." Since it was a warm October day with no chance of snow we didn't pay any attention to the sign. We should have. Hot only doesn't the County plow the road, they don't do any other type of maintenance either. We kept climbing uphill on a sandy rutted two track until we came upon "the downhill". This downhill would be the hardest piece of any mountain bike trail in the Grand Rapids area. Very steep, rutted, sandy, rocky, and filled with downed tree branches. About a third of the way down three fallen trees completely blocked the road. We had to get off our bikes and crawl under to continue. I was hard on my brakes the whole way down. Mary ended up walking her bike on the worst section. When we were almost to the bottom another tree had fallen across the road and we had to dismount again and walk around it.


After that however, the road was flat and wide and hooked us back up with M-22 which we road back west to the cabin. In all it as and 13.5 mile ride that was an absolute blast. Later in the day we did a 3.5 mile hike in the dunes. The next day we kayaked on Long lake. Late October is a great time to be Up North.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A beautiful fall ride

On the new elevated boardwalk in Millennium Park.
We have been having an unseasonably warm autumn. Yesterday was a glorious day. Sunny with temperatures in the mid 70's. Mary and I decided to ride through Millennium Park in Grand Rapids. But we started from our house. That meant we rode the White Pine Trail south to the ball park, crosses the river and rode along Riverside Park. Then we crossed the river again and rode the west side connector to Kent Trails and took that to Millennium Park. The complete route was either trail or well marked city streets.

On the way back we discovered the Oxford Trail. It connects the trail along Wealthy Street with the Black Hills neighborhood south of Market Street. We then rode Market through downtown where it turned into Monroe and went past lots of people enjoying the last day of ArtPrize. We decided we were hungry so we stopped at The Mitten for a pizza and a pint before heading home though Riverside Park and then the WPT.

In all we logged 37 miles on one of the best days of riding we had all year.