Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Different days, different rides

I've ridden Sunday and Tuesday so far this week and the two rides couldn't have been more different. On Sunday, Mary, LTP and I started early with the intention of doing a "simple century". It's a term the ladies came up with last year. They ride 100 miles but all along bike trails, so very little climbing and plenty of opportunities to stop, rest and eat.

LTP, Tom and Mary. Wet, cold and still happy.
We started out at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids and rode north along the White Pine Trail to Sand Lake. It was about 50 degrees when we started, but thankfully not raining. However, after we turned around and started heading back our luck ran out and the skies opened up. We had 25 miles in and we were 25 miles from our cars. The original plan was to stop at the cars for lunch and then ride south on Kent Trails to Byron Center and back. When we got to the cars we had the lunch and tried to dry out and warm up. It was time to head out again but the wind had kicked up significantly and the sky was still drizzling occasionally. Plus we were still cold and wet. We decided to call it at a half century and go home to warm up.

Yesterday I went out for a solo ride with the intent of staying off bike trails. I did one of my favorite loops which starts with climbing Post Drive to Pine Island Road. Then taking House Road which twists and turns, climbs and dips before ending at 10 Mile Road. I next made my way north to 12 Mile Road and took that until I turned south on Summit. Once I got into Rockford I either had to ride the WPT for a short section or venture onto a very busy section of 10 Mile. I did the short trail piece and got off quickly to ride up the Childsdale hill on my way back home. In all it was a shade over 19 miles with about 825 feet of elevation gain. If I were to extrapolate that out over a full century it would be over 4,100 feet of climbing. That was some pretty serious work.

We leave for Death Valley 3 weeks from tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Longest Ride of the Year (so far)

On Sunday we did a three county team ride. We started south of Byron Center and ended up riding through parts of Ottawa, Allegan and Kent counties. We rode just a shade under 58 miles. That is my longest ride of the year by over 10 miles. The route also had over 1,900 feet of elevation gain. Plus the wind was out of the south west, so we had a stiff head wind for a good part of the day. However that also made for a really quick pace on the northbound legs. I had a couple of mile splits where I was doing over 20 mph. Rather than give you a turn by turn analysis here's a link to the Map My Ride page with all the info.

One month and one day until we ride in Death Valley.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

1000 in 2014

Make that 1,001 miles to be accurate. On Tuesday night Mary and I rode south on the White Pine Trail until it ended at North Park bridge. We crossed the river and continued south through Riverside Park. We then took the new trail "connector" east along Ann Street. We then followed the new sharrow markings to Seward Street and rode all the way to Bridge Street before turning around and heading home. In all it was a 23 mile ride and gives me 1,001 miles for this cycling season. Last year I hit 1,000 on August 31, so I'm a few days later. But last year our JDRF ride was in mid-September and this year it isn't until mid-October, so I'm actually ahead of last year's pace.

I put the word connector in quotes above because I question the wisdom of making Ann Street the connecting link between the White Pine/Riverside trails and the west side of Grand Rapids. Cyclists have to navigate a busy 4 lane bridge over the river, then cross an expressway entrance/exit ramp, and finally cross the Ann/Turner intersection which includes a separate right turn lane that avoids the traffic light. While this route eventually gets the cyclist over to Seward Street, there is no flow to the riding and it doesn't feel particularly safe. While I applaud the city of Grand Rapids for trying to tie the trails and surface streets together, this particular connection could use some work.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Three rides in three days

Now that was a weekend. I got a lot of riding in. On Friday I did an 18 mile solo ride. I went south on Grand River Drive to Knapp. Took Knapp to Pettis and then north to Cannonsburg. I then climbed up Blakely so I could get the 7 Mile Hill descent. By the way, the descent of 7 Mile is much more fun than the climb.

On Saturday I rode at Merrill Trails with Scott and Linda Poeder. It was only about six and a half miles, but Merrill is a very technical trail, so it was quite a workout. Plus it was a beautiful day to ride. We toasted our success with a frosty beverage on the deck at Rockford Brewing Company.

Yesterday, we had a small group of five that went out for what turned out to be a 33 mile ride. We started east and went past Luton Park. Then we went north past Meyers Lake and turned west on 12 Mile. We had to make several turns to keep moving west, but we eventually ended up out on the ridge among overflowing apple orchards. We also happened upon Schwallier's Country Basket, a farm store that was giving away free samples of freshly picked apples. They were so good.

In the final tally I rode three consecutive days for a total of 57 miles. On top of that I feel like I could ride today. I think that means that my bike fitness level has finally returned. Which is about on schedule since they say it takes a year to come back from a major injury and it was last September that I crashed in Nashville. So it's good to be feeling good and I'm looking forward to riding in Death Vally in 5 1/2 weeks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day

Last week was a good week for riding. I got out three times for a total of 83 miles. That's right where I need to be in training at this point in the season. Today Mary and I decided to ride up to Sand Lake via the White Pine Trail. The weather people were predicting thunderstorms around 2:00 so we decided to head out about 11:00 a.m. It's a 38 mile round trip so we figured we could make it easily before the storms rolled in. It was warm and sunny when we started, but we could see some gray clouds to the west. As we rolled through Cedar Springs on our way north we felt a dew raindrops but nothing significant. Our original plan was to stop for ice cream in Sand Lake, but once we got there we decided that we better keep moving. So we stopped long enough to use the rest room and eat a snack. Then it was back on the bikes to head south and try to beat the storm. We failed. As we got back to Cedar Springs the winds kicked up and we luckily found a little gazebo along the trail, just as the heavy rain hit. We stayed relatively dry, but the air was cooling off considerably. As we waited for the storm to pass we saw several other bicyclists who had been out on the trail when the storm hit. They were soaked. After we waited about a half hour the rain stopped. We headed back south although there was some intermittent thunder and lighting. Bikes have rubber tires so we were safe, right? The weather kept getting better and warmer as we got closer to home. When we rolled into our neighborhood it was as sunny and warm as when we left. And we haven't had any rain since. I guess we should have waited and done an afternoon ride.