Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bike riding is better than working

I took a little time off from work this past week. We didn't go anywhere on vacation so I used the opportunity to ride my bike, a lot. There were team rides, solo rides, even mountain bike rides. All told I put in over 85 miles on my bike. I would have like to ride more but I did have a few things I needed to get done around the house and we did have some rain to contend with. What follows is a breakdown of my week+ of riding.

Saturday 6/21: Connie's Cakes to home
I was helping Mary out at the cake shop. They are very busy in June with many, many weddings. After the shop closed I rode east on Fulton Street toward Ada. A pretty high traffic area but with broad road shoulders. I then turned north on Grand River Avenue and took that until it ended at Northland Drive which I took home. Again Northland was very busy with vehicle traffic, but there are only a few spots to get across the river to get home. It ended up being a relatively easy 14 mile ride.

Sunday 6/22: JDRF Team Ride from Sietsma's Orchard
This ride could also be called "25 miles of pain". With our team rides there are usually two mileage options. My original plan had been to ride the 40 mile option. However this route was in the Egypt Valley, Pettis, Honey Creek triangle. Anyone who rides in this area knows this is one of the hilliest places to ride in all of west Michigan. We actually went both north and south on Egypt Valley. I'm not one to complain about hills, but that was a tough route. When I got to the 25/40 cutoff I decided that riding 25 miles was a much better idea. The post ride lunch and cider made all the work worthwhile.

Tuesday 6/24: North on the White Pine Trail
This was a 20 mile solo ride. Just a basic training ride. I took the trail up thru Rockford and up to Russell Road. It's a pretty flat route, especially when compared with our Sunday team ride. Nothing very interesting to report, just puttin' in the miles.

Wednesday 6/25: Luton Park
The old barn at Luton Park.
I decided to take my mountain bike out for a spin. This is an "old" bike. I first purchased it in the late 80's. It has a steel frame and no suspension. I feel kind of jealous when I see the newer, cooler mountain bikes some of my teammates ride. But my Raleigh M50 has served me well for decades and will go through anything. I rode the blue, orange, black and red loops at Luton for a 6 mile total. The thing I really notice out there is that it's more of an upper body workout than road cycling. Now that might be because I'm pushing the bike equivalent of a tank through the narrow trails. But Luton is a blast, tight turns, rock gardens, log piles, and on this day more than a few mud puddles. Watch for a full review of Luton Park coming soon on my Examiner page.

Sunday 6/29: The modified Western loop
I didn't get to ride on Friday or Saturday because I was busy with volunteering at a couple of events. So I was putting up tents and selling cupcakes instead of pedaling my bike. Today Mary went with me and we headed out for one of our favorite loops. We started by heading west through Belmont and then making the big climb up Post Drive. We continued westward along 9 Mile Road. This is a very pretty twisty little road that takes you out toward the northern Kent County apple orchards. Today our plan was to do a shorter version by riding up Division to 12 Mile and then heading home via the White Pine Trail. About a 25 mile route. However at 12 miles into the ride Mary's front tire exploded. She noticed that a bulge had developed on the tire so we stopped to see if I could do a field repair job. Before we could get off the road to a safe place to fix the tire the tube exploded and left a two inch long hole in the tire. Since we don't carry spare tires, I had to cut the route short and ride home to get the car to bring Mary and her bike back home. Mary ended up with 12 miles for the day and I was at 19.

I've now ridden 420 miles since the start of the season. Not great but we'll get there. I'd like to be between 1,200 and 1,500 miles when we head to Death Valley in October.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Death Valley Training

It was hot and windy this afternoon, perfect training for Death Valley. Just replace the trees with mountains and the grass with desert and this would have been just like DV. Since the winds were about 20 mph from the southwest I decided to ride south and west first so I could work hard at the start and use the wind to my advantage when I got tired. I took the White Pine Trail down to WhiteCaps BallPark. They were getting set up for tonight's Class A Baseball All-Star Game. Since I didn't have a ticket I rode past the park, through Comstock Park and then turned north and headed toward home. Going north was much easier. I had a pretty good average speed, 15.3 mph. The last few rides I've tracked have all had plus 15 mph averages. I think that means that I'm starting to get my fitness back. I'm glad for that. I felt really bad at the start of the season after having been off the bike for so long. Now I'm starting to feel like I'll be able to do this Death valley thing after all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Three different rides

I'm starting to rack up the miles. The past few days I've done three short rides which were each quite different.

On Saturday I was helping out Mary at Connie's Cakes. I decided to ride my bike home from the shop. It's only about 12 miles but you have to make your way through the city so it's not a real fast route. Plus I had eaten something for breakfast that didn't agree with me and that affected my performance. Plus it was really hot. Plus I had a flat tire. I rolled out all those excuses to explain why a 12 mile ride took me almost an hour and a half.

Near my parents house north of Lowell there is an old railroad bed that has been converted to the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail. It runs from Lowell to Greenville, but it's not a cycling trail yet. The ground is covered with sharp stones about the size of a child's fist. So it's a good trail to hike, not so good for mountain bikes. Mary and I gave it a try on Sunday. We only rode about a mile on the trail and then rode some dirt country roads. We got in a little over 6 miles. I'd love to try it with a fat bike.

Today I decided to do some speed training. I rode the White Pine Trail up to Rockford and back, a 15 mile round trip in just under an hour. That's a 15.5 mph average speed. That might not sound like much, but it's  my best speed so far this year. I felt like I was working pretty hard to maintain that speed, but I was able to maintain it, which I haven't been able to do yet this year. Every time I go it it seems like I get a little confidence back and a little skill returns.