It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

If You Build It They Will Come Plus Bonus Day Ride

Light wind, loads of sunshine and mild for this time of year temps offered up a bonus outdoor riding day today!  Hooray!   Today's high temp was 43 F but with those conditions it seemed much nicer.  Just for the heck of it I looked up last years riding log and noted that I had 9 outdoor rides last November and 6 in December of 2012.   I checked the 2011 log and had 11 outdoor November rides, 4 in December and 13 in January and February combined, however 2011 was one for the record books because we had mild weather right through the whole winter, so much so the lake didn't even freeze over and there was virtually no snow.

Once again I marvel at how  a bike ride outdoors, for more than twice the time of an indoor ride, can feel like it's so short.  There is utterly no comparison between indoor and outdoor riding.  It was a short ride to check out the wholly completed Phase II of the Barker Road Path project. Nice to see that the orange barrels were gone and even at only 65' long the bridge over Horseshoe Creek made me giggle anyway.  Bridges, elevated boardwalks and really any non straight or unconventional building material makes a pathway fun and interesting.  It's a good illustration of how riding a bike outdoors is a tactile experience.

Gravel or dirt roads have their own feel and sound, concrete pavement feels and sounds different than asphalt and wooden sections each have their own unique and rhythmic clackty-clack noise accompanied by those sensations impressing your ears, your hands and your bottom-side.   Wind and sunshine make a big impression not only on your face, hair and skin but also on your psyche as does the aforementioned surfaces.

Another photo in the spirit of build-it-and-they-will-come variety inserted below shows another person enjoying the sunshine and nice new paved path today along with some photos that don't include orange barrels!

I guess you can say the photos reflect the pride in the project that puts a smile on my face.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Winter Workout and Happy Thanksgiving

It's still Autumn but another light snowfall covering today makes it feel much more like winter.  Feeling particularly thankful today as we set aside a whole day just for that!  A truly American holiday, it kicks off the holiday season culminating with Christmas.

I'm thankful for, but not sure where the motivation came from, to start my indoor spinning on a trainer this week.  Today marks four days running and I'll give myself a little pat on the back, however I must share with you that my routine is so teeny tiny so far it can hardly be called exercise.  I'm initiating this season and the first two weeks with a 10 minute time limit.  Hardly worth climbing on?  The method to the madness is that since I truly loath the trainer but I do like the feeling that gets your blood pumping I set a time limit so small that I can't say no to it and it actually leaves me longing for just a bit more.  I psyched myself out.  Ha!

Well, whatever it takes is what I say.  My plan is to continue at this pace for two weeks and in the second week inch up by 1-2 minutes by that weeks end.  The plan is for weeks three and four to bump up to 20 minutes and after a solid month kick it up to 30 minuets and take it from there.  I won't force myself to commit to more than 30 minutes but when the urge strikes for longer I'll go for it.  So that's the plan, it's truly not my usual style but I really want to continue to ride all winter long and don't want to burn out too fast or too early.  I know myself well and my tendency is to overdo things in the beginning and the results have been less than what I desired, so in the spirit of "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity" I'm trying out a new approach.  

It's really hard to get off when you want to go more but I want that feeling of longing and desire to propel me into the next day.  Last winter I used some travel DVD's of outdoor bicycling and a Spinnervals DVD for a booster, I haven't gotten into those yet but I'm sure I will by the time I get to the 20 minute mark.

To all of you and yours - Happy Thanksgiving, we truly are so blessed and have so much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Trainer Time!

With temps in the 20's (F) and traces of snow it's time to break out the trainer or loose any semblance of fitness.  Sooner or later, like it or not, a season comes to an end and a new one starts.  I don't mind winters in Michigan, I love the change of seasons and a chance to do other things but I will, once again, miss outdoor riding.  I adore outdoor riding and loath indoor trainers but I'm far too much of a wimp to ride in snow and blustery winter weather.  Perhaps I'll turn to some indoor swimming this year, I've threatened to do that the last few years, we'll see if this one is IT.

With dinner dishes put away I was torn between settling into a snuggly evening or taking on a project.  Being a bit restless and with my bike beckoning me from the corner I took the call to swap out my street tire and tube for my trainer tire and was very pleasantly surprised that I could accomplish the task in about 10 minutes.  Well 15 if you count looking for all the proper tools. Now if I could only change a flat out on the trail in that amount of time!  Next order of business:  1) find the trainer 2)get on the thing and ride it!

Black street tire before and yellow trainer tire after.  Work time about 10 minutes total after tools were gathered.  Now dig out the trainer and spend 5 minutes mounting it and work up the ambition to ride, that might take a few more minutes.

Afterthought and honorable mention;  notice the uber clean drive train and sparkly chain?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Barker Road Bike Path - Update

Here are some photos of the completion of the second phase of the project.  It's not completed just yet, when I rode by today there were finishing touches being  put on the grading and some landscaping.  These photos were from last Saturday.  I love watching this project come together.

This is my favorite photo, it depicts exactly why the path was 
built, to help connect people from west of town to downtown.
Pictured here is father and son and it looks like they are returning
from a trip to the Polly's Market to home, you can see a grocery
bag swinging from the dad's handlebars. It just tickles me that it isn't
even complete yet and people are already using it.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013


It's November and I'm still riding.  Not too much because we've had some wind and rain on days when I had the chance to but today I got out to explore a newly built section of the Barker Road path in town.  It's just a short pedal from home but I did get to ride some of the new section of trail and I can't wait for the rest to be open.  I didn't have a phone or camera but will snap some on my next trip.  It's one of the more interesting sections of that path project.  It crosses a railroad at grade, a creek, a freeway entrance and exit ramp and goes under US23.  The bridge was not open yet, darn it.  Bridges are some of the most fun things to ride on pathways.  Maybe next time.  I did note that the Library has a beautiful new sign and I'm posting an image from their facebook page.

It's funny but it looks like a typical November-getting-ready-to-snow sky today but the temps belie that, it's a mild and balmy 50 F out.  Now if we could just get rid of that wind! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Scary Thought

This video should strike fear in the heart of cyclists no matter where you live.  Controversy brews in many communities over the sharing of roads by motorists and cyclists. Many areas of our country are bicycle friendly and consist of populations of people who co-exist just fine with however a person chooses to use the roadway.  More often than not we have examples of anger over any one using a road except for motorists.  There have been far too many examples of people who are purposely run down while traveling on a bicycle by a motorist.   Articles have been written about serial stalkers who go out of their way to find people traveling by bicycle and strike them or kill them.

I'm not sure how that gets remedied.  Education?  Familiarity?  Laws?

Have you ever been intimidated by a driver?  Cursed at?  Had items thrown at you?  Felt like you had a close call on purpose?

99% of the bicyclists that I know also drive cars and are aware of the problems facing cyclists and facing drivers.  99% of the people I know who detest bicycles on the road have never ridden a bike or have not done so since their youth.  100% of the people who would think like the poster writer in the video have become far to impatient for life in today's world.  It's a Pollyanna view of the world but so many people would be better off if they just slowed down, took a deep breath and enjoyed the journey.

In the mean time, cyclists beware and do whatever you can to be seen by motorists and other cyclists,cycle smart, obey the rules of the road, keep a look over your shoulder and beware of a place to bail out in the event of an emergency.

Stay safe and be well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Revisiting Recent Trails and Reminiscing

On Sunday I paid a return visit to the connector trail from Dexter to Hudson Mills.  This time the launch point was in downtown Dexter, I was certain that the trail would be open.  NOT.  The barrier was still up however there had evidently been lots of frustrated folks and the snow fencing material that was attached to the barricade had been partially removed and allowed for easier passage over the obstacle.  I admit, I ignored it and passed through.  Lucky for me I had two good Samaritans who lifted my bike over and all I had to do was climb through the middle of it.  Luckier yet was that two more additional good Samaritans were on hand when I returned to help out again.  Lucky me!

The trail was packed with hikers, walkers, strollers and strollers with kids in them, bikes and people out walking their dogs.  We had sunshine and mild temps for this late in the year and I even ran into two friends on the trail going in the opposite direction.  It was a great ride but devoid of the herd of whitetail deer that had loped alongside the trail on my last visit.  More amenities were in place including some fencing where the trail runs alongside of the Hudson Mills Golf course.  It was the lack of fencing that had me assuming that is why the trail hadn't been officially opened yet.  I'm guessing that the officials at the Metropark golf course don't want people trespassing on the course or golfers wandering onto the path, perhaps when it's completed the trail will open.  Rumors among the trail users was that it would be open in less than a week.  I guess we'll see.  I found a link to a news update announcing that it should be open November 1st, here. 

It's also noteworthy to mention that in addition to being a pedestrian or bicycle path, Dexter has incorporated two canoe/kayak launch facilities along the trail as the trail also serves as a water trail on the Huron River and wayfinding signage notes this for waterway travelers.  The landings are located above and below the naturally restored rocky rapids, and travelers can stop and find food and supplies in downtown on their canoe/kayak trips.   A link to the Huron River Watershed Council's website about the water trail can be found here.

Today I took a trip back to the Lakeland's Trail and started off further west than where I normally hop on the trial.  My intention was to explore a portion of the trail that I hadn't been on before.  My starting off point was just east of the trailhead at the Pinckney Depot.  I parked in the Bushs Food Market parking lot and behind the building was an easy access to the trail that I had noted on an earlier trip past this landmark.

Westward bound the trail is paved up to the second crossing of M-36 about a mile and a half west of downtown Pinckney.  This was about 1.75 miles into my trip today and the trail becomes compacted fine gravel.  It reminded me of what I used to put down in my parakeet's cage after cleaning it.  It was fairly easy going and the gravel was thick enough for a good surface but not too thick to feel loosey-goosey.  It was similar to a hard packed dirt road, just a tad bit crunchier sounding.  I can appreciate the desire to keep the trail more natural in this area because the trail crosses through equestrian country with several bridle paths that wind through heavily wooded areas and a staging area that lies just to the south of the trail.   In addition to the horseshoe prints on the path there was "other" ample evidence of recent visits by persons on horseback.  This segment of the trail passes through Pinckney, goes through the town of Gregory and culminates in Stockbridge Michigan.  I rode out a bit over five miles today and that took me to the Unidilla Township line and I went a tad bit beyond that.  I'm guessing I was just short of half way to Stockbridge.  I'd mapped it out and it was about 12 miles from Pinckney to Stockbridge.  There were several places I wanted to snap photos but my phone was busied with using the Map My Ride application.  I logged the trail outbound and then inbound.  I wasn't sure that my battery would take it both ways and didn't want to loose the information, so if it failed on the way back I could just duplicate the outbound ride for distance, time and elevation.

I have to say there was significant reminiscing along the way.  First off was the pass right by the old Pinckney Depot which reminded me of the initial groundbreaking ceremony for this trail back in the early 1990's.  At that time I had my restaurant in downtown Pinckney and was active and involved in our local chamber and several of us were invited to this event, it was initially created as the very first linear State Park in Michigan.

 The rail road had ceased operations in the late 1960's and by the 1980's the rail bed had been abandoned and the rails taken up.  When the rails were pulled, whomever owned it at the time didn't want motorized traffic so there were piles of dirt every few yards.  In the late 1980's at times I road a snowmobile from my home on Strawberry Lake in Hamburg Township to friends home just east of Gregory.  It was like riding over thousands of camel backs.  Being in my 20's it was not big deal except that it kept you from flying down the trail at high speeds.  It sure has been smoothed out since then.  It's flatter than a pancake with elevation gains of about 100 feet in 10 miles which isn't much at all.  From the mapping I'd done the section in Unidilla Township from Gregory to Stockbridge has more elevations and is a tad bit hillier.  Here's a screenshot of my route.

When I got a mile or two west of Pinckney I cam across an area on the south side of the trail that was fenced.  What made it remarkable was that the fence was at least 15 feet tall, maybe more and had barbed wire.  This cordoned off area extended for quite a bit and it's perimeter was irregular in places, dipping far south of the trail and then back alongside of it again.  I saw some old faded signage and it is called the Edwin S. George Biological Research Area and was owned by the University of Michigan.  I know that U of M owns property along Stinchfield Woods to the south of Pinckney and has an observatory atop of Peach Mountain in that area and I've also seen other areas of land that they own along the Strawberry-Portage chain of lakes.  Their holdings are vast throughout Michigan.  When I finished my ride and loaded up my bike I returned to some of the dirt roads I'd crossed and explored around the perimeter of this preserve, it's huge!  At least a mile square if not more.

When I got home I researched a bit online and found a link here to more information about it. Another link with photos can be found here.  It's over 1500 acres which is about 3 sections of land, with a section being 640 acres and a mile square.  From the website it says that the area is "one of the most renowned biological research areas in the world."  Who would have known?  Right here in Pinckney.

Just west of Pinckney Honey Creek meanders back and forth across the path and there were nearly half a dozen bridges in a three mile section.

While I would have liked to make it to Stockbridge, given the time of day and now that the days are getting shorter I wanted to be off the trail by 5-5:30 ish.  It get's pretty remote west of Pinckney and has some heavily wooded areas with homes few and very far between.  I realized right off that I didn't have my pepper spray in my bag and it was quite possible that I could come across a coyote out there.  I'd rather make the trip to Stockbridge with a friend or two.  I was surprised not to see much wildlife out there today, I did hear a rooster crowing but no coyote in sight which was just fine by me.  My round trip today was a bit under 11 miles and the round trip going to Stockbridge would have been over 24 miles.  I was getting a bit tired and the trail got a bit soft at the Unidilla Township line.  You could feel the difference immediately and from reports of others I know who've made the trip it gets more and more rugged the closer you get to Stockbridge.  I'll save that for another day.

Monday, October 21, 2013


With less hours of daylight, lights for your bike become important.  They come in all sizes, colors and purposes.  There are lights;

To make you be seen which is my preference and I use this light combo to achieve that.

This set was a gift, it's made by Botranger and it's bright enough not only to be seen by others but it can even be a bit obnoxious, but at least cars and others will see me.  The switch can be set to low steady, high steady or the obnoxious insane strobe.  Both the front white light and the back red tail light have the steady or strobe choice.  Battery life is good in my estimation and this set has served my needs well.  I generally run the battery out sooner on the tail light because I have used it in daylight hours while riding on roads with higher traffic volumes.  The white light for the front installs on my handle bars in about 2 seconds.  The tail light clips onto my bike trunk bag or my shorts if I'm not using a trunk bag.   More information can be found at this link

To help you see which I think would be great if I was going to be touring in the evening hours and need a light to guide my path.  I usually don't set off at dusk so my light choices are for the event I get caught out at dusk or a bit later.  If I truly rode at night I'd want a light like the Planet Bike HID headlight, seen below.

 This style of light is more for you to be able to light up your path and the image at the right is taken from their website that gives a good representation of actual lighting produced by various watts of lights.  Lights of this style are available in 1/2 watt, 1 watt and 2 watts or more.  Clicking at this link will take you to their website and you can click on the various lights offered and see how much or how little they will light up your path and you can choose what is best for your style of riding.

The two kinds of lights above fall into the casual rider affordable category.  Headlamps for serious night riders are also available but instead of being in the $20-40 range for a set, they will run upwards of $100-200 and more,  I don't have examples of those.  It would be best to stop at your local bike shop and talk to the shop riders who often tend to ride at night when the shops are closed and out on trails that twist, turn and wind and serious lights are a must.

Then we run into a whole other category of novelty lights.  Novelty lights can be functional to help make you be seen by others, for fun and show, or a combination of both.  They can range from simple 3M reflective tape that can be attached to each spoke, inexpensive plastic LED light sleeves that clip onto spokes to full blown pieces of art that can be customizable, thematic and downright zany!  I've posted a video in the next post after this one and a link to their site for more information can be found here.  Use caution, they can cost up to $60 per wheel.  But imagine how the heads will turn if you show up for a group ride or nighttime parade with these beasts on your bike!

In addition, the newest helmet I bought has blinking side lights, they are small, flat and unobtrusive with an easy push button on/off.  They're small but the blinking stands out, especially in the dark.

MonkeyLectric - Bike Wheel Lights

Friday, October 18, 2013

RA Flare-up

has kept me off the bike for some time now.  And what misery that has been!  We have had a stellar autumn season with unseasonably mild weather, abundant sunshine and just plain glorious days.  It pains me not to be out for these many last weeks.  I've had a few forays for short little errand runs that didn't amount to more than a few blocks, but they've been few and far between.  I've worked with the Doc to get new meds dialed in and so far the latest combo has done the trick and Sunday (glorious day that it was) found me out with my pal Deb Anderson on a trip to one of our favorite trails at Dexter Mills Metro-park.  I felt like I was pushing it but the day was so gorgeous that I couldn't help myself.

The last time I'd gotten out was a few weeks before with my nephew Andrew and we took a trip to downtown Dexter to check out the new trail and see if the connector was open to the park yet.  It wasn't.  So Sunday Deb and I decided to check it out from the park end and yes there was a barricade up and well, yes we did ignore it and rode around it on the new trail.  Does it count that others were doing the same?  Can I use that as an excuse?  Doesn't matter, once a rebel always a rebel.

Deb Anderson - fellow rebel

The new connector trail that goes from Hudson Mills to downtown Dexter is wonderful.  From the Metro-park end you start out on heavily wooded trails traveling over paved sections, elevated wooden boardwalks, bridges and more pavement.  Shortly the path begins meandering alongside of the Metro-park golf course just south of the park proper.  After that the path opens to some meadow-land before turning woodsy and following alongside of the Huron River then a long boardwalk over a wetland leads you into Dexter.  For some reason the Dexter end is still barricaded off and since so many have ignored the barricades they finally erected one on that end that is nearly insurmountable except for the very tall or stout of heart.