Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Urban Cycling

Every Memorial Day since the mid-eighties we get together with our friends Susan and "Elvin" Hayes. We used to go camping in Manistee National Forest, then we started hanging out at their cottage on Lake PawPaw. This year, because of crazy schedules, we visited them at their home near Lincoln Park in Chicago. On Sunday Elvin, Mary and I rode the Lake Shore Trail north up to Evanston. The very well used paved trail follows the shore of Lake Michigan through most of Chicago. Traveling north the trail jogs inland for a few miles along surface streets. However it is well marked with signage and bike lanes (or at least sharrows). When we got to Evanston we rode around Northwestern University's campus and past some gorgeous homes. On the way back we stopped at a little beach bar for a snack and a beer. It would have been great had the sun been out and the temperature wasn't dropping. Sunday was one of those rides that started in the mid 60's and just a bit overcast and ended with temps in the 50's with rain starting. Luckily we got back in before it rained hard or we got frozen. In all we put in 30 miles of dodging pedestrians, other cyclists, and sand blown over the trail. It was a very different experience than our usually Memorial Day rides on the other side of Lake Michigan.

Tom and Mary in front of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Let's Race

Mary competing in her first time trial
This past week started with the Rapids Wheelmen Time Trials out in Ada. Ian and I have raced there once before and this time Mary joined us. This is a 15 mile out and back, fairly flat course along Grand River Avenue. The riders start individually every 30 seconds. The idea is to ride against the clock and not the other people on the course. Which is a good thing since I was getting passed regularly by 20 somethings on time trial bikes. But the good news is I improved my time over the first week by three and a half minutes. Ian's time was about the same and Mary finished is less than an hour. She was very happy about that since she was thinking she was a "slow" rider. Her average speed was 15.6 mph. While not blazing, that's far from slow. The complete results are at this link.

On Saturday Ian and I traveled over to the other side of the state for the Tour de Frankenmuth. This was Ian's first ride with the Rapid Wheelmen Junior Team. The race was on a 16 mile loop that started in the downtown of the delightfully German themed town. The Juniors did one loop and the Category 1 and 2 riders did 5 loops. The top riders were competing for prize money, the juniors were competing for medals. Ian finished 8th in his age group, getting beat out at the line for 7th place. It was a great learning experience for him and he said he really enjoyed it.

Ian approaching during his first Junior Team race.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

This week's training

This was a good week for training. I rode three times for a total of 51 miles. That's a good place to be for the middle of May. I'd like to have more total miles under my belt, but my fitness level seems pretty good considering the lack of saddle time this spring.

On Tuesday Ian and I did a 14 mile ride out to the east of our house. We started by climbing Seven Mile hill. We rode past Luton Park which was full of people on mountain bikes and then finished by riding past Rockford High School. Ian's last day at RHS is this Wednesday and then he graduates on June 4.

Thursday was a solo ride for me down near Allegan. I was working in the area and had a couple of hours between events, so I took my bike along and got a 17 mile ride in. I had hoped to do a loop ride but I was unfamiliar with the area so I ended up doing an out and back.

Mary and I rode the White Pine Trail on Saturday evening. We went north as far as Russell Road and then turned around. On the way home we stopped at the Rockford Brewing Company for a sandwich and a beer. It was excellent and we arrived home slightly before 9:00 p.m. with exactly 20 miles. We have finally hit that point of the year where it stays light in Michigan until late in the evening. It makes after work rides much easier to complete.

Monday, May 6, 2013

First time trial

We tried something new tonight. Ian and I rode in our first time trial. The Rapid Wheelmen Cycling Club holds a 15 mile time trial every Monday night. It starts at Ada Park and runs along Grand River Drive toward Lowell. It's a pretty flat route with a few mild rollers. We rode out seven and a half miles, turn around and head back. It took me about 55 minutes (we'll have the official times on Wednesday), Ian did it in about 48 minutes. He started 30 seconds behind me and caught me at mile 3. There were about 70 riders in all but only 3 (including Ian) passed me. Of course I was one of the last six to start. Oh well, my plan was just to get a base line time so I can see how much I improve over the course of the season.

Ian after his first time trial.