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!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Around the lake tonight - the long way

Sounds funny that "around the lake can be somehow a longer way" but there is more than one way to get around it and I missed a turn into a winding sub and ended up taking the long route.  It's all good but this route put me into some pretty hairy traffic.  I crossed the same freeway twice on this route and followed along the service drive for a mile and had to cross four entrance/exit ramps, under one bridge and over another.

I don't generally drive in that much traffic and it was a good thing it was long past rush hour.  Next time I'll look harder for my other route, this is too stressful to be called bike riding and was very glad once I got back into downtown.  A rode rider I am not. More like a pedal pusher. Whew. 

Just a tad under 6 miles tonight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Balloon Fest Tour de Livingston Kick Off Ride and Summertime Fun

My Friend Sue who rode with us
Andrew watches the winning balloon
Sue and Deb
Andrew Tubing
Max on Skis

The day started off with a 5 am wake up and hustle out the door to the Balloon Fest bike ride with my little nephew Andrew, first stop on the 10 mile loop was a fly in at the balloon fest.  On the Howell High School grounds there is a giant tartget on the ground and ballonists vie to see who can drop a bean bag closest to the bulls-eye.  We watched this balloon land one smack on center!  After the ride and breakfast we headed over my friend Lisa's and Andrew and her son Max had some fun on the water with water skiing and tubing.  Later the boys spent and hour hunting baby frogs and landed about 40-50 of them.  Capped the day off with a pool party at my sister's house.  Summertime fun with a capital "F"!

Here are some links to the videos of the boys having fun on the lake.Max Skiing, A short shot of Andrew tubingMax Tubinglastly more of Max tubing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chef Deb

Prior to doing my current line of work I owned and operated a restaurant in the small town of Pinckney from 1984 to 1999.  During those fifteen years I was able to realize several passions of mine and put them to use.  I enjoyed cooking, creating things and entertaining.  A great combo if you are in the restaurant business.  During those years I learned a lot from the cooks and chefs who worked for me, most were pretty amazing people.  Demonstration cooking is fun and because I love it and enjoy entertaing a crowd I volunteered to do a guest apperance at our Farmer's Market this week and demonstrate how to make "the perfect omelet." 

What a blast!  I had forgotten how much fun it is to cook for an audience.  I rounded up some gear, packed up five dozen eggs and what seemed like all but the kitchen sink (on second thought, I brought that too) along with some fresh picked herbs from my little herb garden.

Within 15 minutes I was set up and in business, cooking omelets, chopping herbs and generally having a very good time.  I took goodwill donations in a can for our Fire Department which is working to raise funds to purchase a new thermal imaging camera.  Our local Kiwanis clubs are holding fund raisers for the department and one of our local businesses has pledged to make up any shortfall (there will be a significant shortfall) for the purchase.  It was all good fun, entertaining and I had a really great time and raised a couple of bucks for a good cause!

Oh yes, today ends week #12 of riding and I finished the week with 39.74 miles.  Staying pretty consistent and exploring miles of dirt roads right in my own backyard.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Here we go, half mile to dirt roads
Author of Dirt Road Washtenaw Rob Pulcipher

Great ride and great people make for a fun time

Pre ride at the local coffee shop Peaberry's

How nice the weather turned out tonight, it had threatened rain and storms all day and the prediction for evening was looking mighty grim.  The sun came out and shone on us tonight.  We had 10 riders and another 4 folks came for the book discussion.  Local author Rob Pulcipher who wrote Dirt Road Washtenaw joined us for a ride, discussion and book signing later.  What  a great time, I met the most interesting people who shared a couple of things in common.  The love of riding and writing and reading.

Ride and Chat tonight!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hitting my stride

Now that there have been enough consistent weeks of riding that are unintruppted by rain, cold or snow and summer is underway I feel strength wise that I am hitting a stride.  For week #11 I've complted 44.76 miles with two days of rest from riding and feel very strong and not the least pooped out.  My two days off were mid week I finished up a 9.26 mile ride tonight and am up for a 10-15 miler tomorrow.  Monday is the day of the Ride and Chat with the author of Dirt Road Washtenaw and that will be a fun ride. 

If I'd have addressed this earlier in the week I would not have predicted this outcome.  On Monday I was in a full flare up from RA with a shoulder that was out of commission, I ended up taking another Humira injection (2nd one in just over a year).  It calmed the flare right down, a bit of rest and I was good as new.  During the flare I had imagined that I might be off the bike for a long time.  The body is an amazing thing.

I saw my rheumatologist Thursday to help me confirm a plan of action and he decided that my instincts on dropping off Humira were ok, instead, before he recommended going back on for good he threw out the idea of doubling up on the Plaqunil that I take for RA.  It has lesser impacts on the body and so far in this last year my single dose (which was 1/2 of where I orginally had been at) was working fine with the exception with 2 flares in a year's time.  I liked the idea of doubling the Plaqunil better than getting back on the Humira on a regular and constant plan.  So for now that's the plan, if I feel fine that will confirm it's working ok to address the RA.  I always have the option to go back onto Humira if this is not working and flares become too common.  With meds, I prefer the least amount that will get the job done but do not believe in suffering if there are remedies available. 

One remedy that has made a big impact is one I can manage myself and that is a fitness program.  I believe beyond any doubt that cycling regularly has improved my overall health immensely.  Enough exercise that challenges me without overdoing it has been good for me.  It stretches my muscles, strengthens them, lubricates my joints, increases my flexibility, increases the elasticity of my tendons and has given me an enormous cardiovascular advantage.  The sunshine and fresh air is good for my body and the thrill, enjoyment and pleasure I get from cycling does wonders for my mood and mental health.  Stress leveles are way down.

It continues to confound me that something so simple as a bike ride can accomplish all of that!  Incredible and amazing in it's simplicity.

I love riding.

Monday, June 13, 2011

200 acre farm across from Church
Centennial Farmhouse

Miles of Dirt Roads

On the trail through the back roads

We only passed three cars all day
Old Lutheran Church across from farm
Miles of roads, acres of farms and stateley old farm homes

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pure Dirt

Today's ride was pure dirt road riding and this kind of riding is one of the big reasons I bought this bike, I needed a wider range of gearing for rolling hillside rides, wider tires to take the chunky gravel and front suspension to smooth out the ride.  Even in some of the washboard sections the suspension and aluminum frame compared to steel, made for a comfortable ride. 

What a great ride with a friend of mine today.  There were miles and miles of pure dirt roads, acres of farmland, quaint homes and best of all - hardly a car to be seen all day.  The weather was perfect for riding, temperature right around 70, no humidity, no wind to speak of, who could ask for better?

Our ride total for the day was 14 miles and most of that was rolling hills, we did a lot of climbing with one very notable hill that just seemed to go on forever on Earhart Road.

We could have rode this ride from home and it would have added about 4-5 miles to it but we would have had to ride through some wickedly high speed traffic on roads with practically no shoulder.  So we drove and met at a nearby manufacturing place that was closed for the weekend.  What would have been a perfect day ended on a sour note as we got back to our cars my friend had a smashed in window and her handbag was stolen from her car.  A bad note to end a great ride on.  Lousy theives.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Apres Ride


A pictoral of Downtown Ypsilanti

Historic Downtown Ypsilanti

What a great day for a ride, the temps were much more moderate than in the last two weekends, there was humidity but it was lower, all around it was just perfect cycling weather! 

I rode the southern leg of the B2B (Border to Border) Trail in Washtenaw County.  Round trip is was 11.55 miles through quite varied landscape.  I rode from St. Joseph Hospital to downtown Ypsilanti, Ypsi has some great old historic buildings and architecture.

The B2B border to border tail wanders through natural wooded paths, and urban city sidewalks.  It roughly follows the Huron River throughout the whole trail This section of the trail winds around the hospital campus, down past Eastern Michigan University, around some of EMU's buildings, down a shady lane, up some good hills and eventually gets you to Frog Island Park and Riverside Park, Depot Town and downtown Ypsi. I did a little exploring around town.  There are some great old homes in the area, it's very interesting riding around town and so unique with having the river and boardwalks available too.

I did some exploring around town and stopped at a food co-op for refueling on some dried fruit snacks and lemonade.  Across the street from the co-op is Frenchies Sidetrack Grille appropriately named as is nearly sits on the RR tracks, I didn't stop there today but they have some of the best burgers and onion rings ever, their colorful outdoor umbrellas and tables beckon those strolling by.   Lots of colorful and historic architecture, it was like taking a peek into Americana of yesterday.  Downtown has quaint shops and a big share of homes that can be classified as the "grande old dames," some have been refurbished and a few are still in need, but it is really like taking a step back in time.  The city has taken steps to preserve it's historical architecture and it is very evident that it is an important component of what brings visitors.

Riverside park, below street level and stretching along the Huron River is a great place for peaceful and natural getaway right in the heart of downtown, with a band shell, meandering paths along the river, a tridge (three way bridge) and plenty of places to wet a line and catch fish.

Perfect weather and a perfect way to spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors.


This just had to come home with me

From our local florist, it came without the polka dot planter which my sister bought and said I just had to have it.  I planted with English thyme.  Outdoor Adirondack chairs are whimsical, I couldn't make up my mind last year which was the prettiest color so I bought one of each. So I have a rainbow of yellow, liliac, green and hot pink with the appropriate color hanging floral baskets over each, of course!

Friday, June 10, 2011


59 degrees at noon, earlier in the week it was 96, we have had weather this week to satisfy all different kinds of people.  Recapping some short evening rides around town in combination with last weekends longer rides brings me to a total mileage for week #10 of this outdoor riding season of 39.96 miles.  Feeling pretty strong with 6 days of riding and a day of rest yesterday I look forward to the weekend and some longer distance rides.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reply function

Yay, the reply function is working!  Thanks for the comments and patience with my replies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heat Wave & the Joy of Riding, an Unlikely Combo

Oh boy we are in the midst of a mini heat wave.  The last two days have temps soaring into the upper 90's with heat indexes well over a 100.  I pretty much chalked up "no riding" but was surprised when going outside and away from the AC to water flowers in the evening that the horrendous hot day time temps dipped at bit.  With the sun low in the sky the temptation to ride was there and I quick as a bunny hopped on my bike for a little ride around town.  Short little jaunts of a few miles, but enough to nearly satisfy the crave to ride.  It's amazing how addictive this hobby or sport can be.  Methinks it's the rush of endorphins one gets from physical exercise that beckons.   Whatever the lure, I felt strong tonight.  I think it is, in part,  the after glow from the weekend of pushing limits.  Short quick recovery rides this week seem to be very rewarding, I return home more energized than tired, and that my friend is what the joy of bike riding means to me!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doing difficult things

I dread hills and to some degree still do but I am finding my way to get some enjoyment from them and find that the pleasure comes in the conquest.  A very nice byproduct of the mission of doing long difficult climbs is that when I do my crusing around regular routes, little hills that I suffered over seem to be a breeze, or nearly so.  Tiny inclines that gave me the fits are a mere "oh did I just go up a little hill?  Hardly noticed."

Preparing the decent
Preparing to climb

Saturday June 4th was shaping up to be nearly the same heat and humidity as last week when I did the first dreadful climb on this trail.  The week before I made the climb but never descended as I could see off into the distance a few miles where the Huron Valley Trail was going to connect to the South Lyon Rail Trail. 

That day I'd had a late start and it was at the height of the mid day heat.  This Saturday I had the earlier start plus the advantage of parking right at the junction of the Island Lake State Park Trail, the Kensington MetroPark Trail and the Huron Valley Trail.  That gave me a head start of about 3 miles and I had been hankering not only to descend the monster that I had climbed the week before but to continue on and finally get to the end of the SL rail trail.  I'd ridden it to within a half mile of it's end but for one reason or another never got to the end.  Today was the day to ride the entire connection from the three way junction  and to the end of the other trail. 

The climb up this ridge was long going from west to east, the descent was swift and I reached speeds of 30 mph with brakes on, I'm guessing if I had not had brakes on it would have been upwards of 40 mph.  That's pretty fast. The assent on the trip back going from east to west was shorter but much steeper.  The descent from that ridge continuing west was about half the speed but you could roll forever it seemed.

My round trip mileage for the trip was 11.11.  On Sunday I hit the flat portions of the rail trail 4 miles up and 4 miles back for a RT overall of 8.16.  Today I had a run about town for a total of 5.55 miles.  Saturday's ride was long, hot, challenging and very tiring.  Pushing to do the difficult thing showed up in the subsequent days riding, pleasantly so. I found my following rides to be a lot less effort.  I believe this is a sign of getting stronger and that's a good thing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Doing difficult things pictoral

Kite Festival atop a large windy hill
Looking down into one of the valleys from the summit

A cyclist is decending

down the hill

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finally ready for picture time - A one of a kind bike

  Fenders to keep me clean and a back rack to tote things round and now that she's all decked out the new bike is suitable for a photo shoot, here she is!

The aquiring of the new parts became somewhat of a quest.  The bike is white with brown accents on the saddle, hand grips, inserts on the brake levers and pedals with some minor black lettering.  I was not able to find a set of white fenders anywhere, to make a long story short, I purchased off the shelf silver ones and took them to a local auto body shop for painting and pinstriping.  The painter did an excellent job and when I went to pick them up today we chatted for a bit and it turns out he is an avid cyclist and he showed me the custom paint job he did on his bike, which was in the shop because he commutes to work!  How serendipitious.  When I took the fenders and rack back to my LBS for installation they were amazed at the workmanship on the fenders as was I.   

And with her pretty wicker basket!


And details on the fender pinstriping.

I did say that I gave her a proper cleaning, notice the clean wheel cogs. 

So my new baby is ready for stealth riding, she might look like a cumbersome cruiser but slyly she's ready to rock and roll baby!

We have had the most beautiful and awesome weather in the last few days, strong sunshine, low humidity and moderate temps in the 70's.  Can you say perfect Michigan Spring!  Sadly my work schedule has kept me from all but a little bit of tooling around town in the last few days and today when I got her back home I put on 3.28 miles just around town again.  Brings me to a weekly total for week #9 of 38.76.  I'll be all rested up for a nice long ride tomorrow.  Let's hope mother nature cooperates.