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, August 31, 2011

Walsh Road


Elevation data taken from MapMyRide
This is a photo of Walsh Road from the book "Dirt Road Washtenaw" by Rob Pulpicher, I have been exploring the wonderful world out of my backdoor on dirt roads throughtout my township and surrounding communities.  Last night I rode this section of Walsh Road and yes it is that steep.  The ride back was challenging, however there are dozens of rolling hills like this along the route I took.  Last night I rode west on Barker to Merrill, south to Walsh and west to Mast and returned.  It was 10 miles of roller coaster hills and beautiful countryside. The ride took me through portions of Northfield and Webster Townships.


Cousins Sophie, Connie and Mary

Bunch of girl cousins on a shopping trip
Cousin Jimmy Joins us for Lunch
Mary's Horse Lacy

The blacksmith has a large audience and the city slickers watch him in action shoeing horses.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Country Roads and Famlies

Back from a great vacation to visit family for a reunion!  Three sisters and a niece traveled out to the heartland in Kansas to visit a cousin who has a horse farm.  We spent 4 days on the go and relaxing too, sharing memories and family tales with bales of laughter and singing to my cousin Jim's guitar with cousins gathered all around.  Heavenly.

I came home hankering for bike riding and longing for being out in the country, tonight I headed to the south west quadrant of the township for a great bike ride on hard packed dirt roads with gentle rolling hills and acres of farmland.  Summer is waning and fall is in the air and the deer are on the move.  I spotted 29 tonight in various places along my route and far less cars, 5 in total.  There were times when all I heard was my own breathing, what a peaceful evening.

My total for last week #21 was 46.06 miles for only 3 days of riding with 5.23 hrs spent on the bike.  No bad for a short riding week.  I'm over 200 miles for the month of August and over 780 miles for this outdoor riding season.  I love stats!  I need to get busy and post some photos of my trip.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Racheting It Up

Spending more time on individual rides = more miles pile up.  Last three days of riding I'm at 46 miles and 5.25 hours spent on the bike pedaling. Getting stronger.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#20 Milestone?

Is there something particular about the number 20?  I believe that physically there is.  I would not have thought that but having regularly gone out on rides in the 12-15 mile range and now and again 17-18 miles range there is something particularly different crossing a 20 mile ride.  Maybe not for others, and certainly by biking standards 20 is not a very big number.  Many avid cyclists don't really consider they've gone on a ride unless it's at least that number.  There are a great number of people who regularly cycle 25-30-40 or more miles.  The 100 mile mark century is usually reserved for something special but many who cycle do a few of those per season or once per month.

I am not that kind of accomplished and mentally and physically I noticed a difference in a ride of just a tad over 20 miles yesterday.  I often come home thinking I could have gone farther and full of energy.  Yesterday I was tired after my ride.  Not dragging my behind around or stiff or sore, just worn.  I felt it in my muscles, legs, arms and body.  I didn't hurt but I knew I worked my body and my mind to get to those miles.  The route was rolling hills and gravel roads.  20 miles of hills with 2 significant climbs is a bit more difficult than a flat rail trail of same mileage.

Thursday I was on a quest to pile up some miles and traveled the Huron Valley Rail Trail  from Downtown South Lyon to the spur that leads to Kensington.  I felt strong and decided to go for it even though it was a bit later in the day and I knew that a difficult climb waited.  I'd be lucky to come in just before dark.  I climbed that monster going out to Kensington and then coming back.  Going out is westbound and that face is mighty steep, according to MapMyRide it's a catagory 5 climb.  The decent in that direction is nearly two miles.  The east bound coming back face is  conversley a two mile grind uphill with a very swift and scary decent.  I managed them both with some effort then powered it up on the flat ride back.  That was 18 miles and I didn't feel near as spent, I returned home with energy to spare.  Maybe 20 is a mythical number to cross in my head, but whatever it is, it is now crossed.  On to 25......?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Week #19 And #20 Mileage Totals And The Ride Experience

I just realized that I had not posted my weekly riding totals last week, so here it is:  Week #19 56.18 miles and the week that just ended #20 is 55.76.  #19 had 6 days of riding and #20 had 5 days of riding.  I've been working to up my riding intensity so I've used a harder gear than I was accustomed to and it's boosted my MPH which translates into more miles in the same given time out on a ride.  This week I also made a point to up my time on the bike on my rides so again it translates into higher mileages.  The goal is not to rack up miles as much as it is to rachet up the intensity and duration.  Fitness is my aim.  More time on the bike has increased my energy level all the way around in so much of what I do. 

I love my work but it is also very stressful and intense riding melts it away.  I loose myself in the elements of being outdoors.  Sun, trees, sky, sounds of my bike, woodsy and fresh cut grass smells and the rhythm of my legs going round and round and my breathing in and out all create an intense focus.   I feel like I become my surroundings, melt right into nature so there's no distinction between me, my bike and the out of doors. It's nearly impossible for any thing or thoughts to intrude on this experience.  I get lost in my surroundings.  I return from rides completly rejuvinated mentally and spiritually.  It's accompanied by a good feeling of physical exertion.  Returning from a ride makes me feel satiated. 

However every day is not intense riding and today's ride was equally satisfying but in a different way.  Yesterday I logged 18 miles and made it a hammerfest, I headed out to a flat rail trail to crank it out and took a side spur that has the biggest hill I ever encounter on any of my rides.  I rode up it, down it, beyond it and back agin to retrace my route.  I tackled that beast of a hill from both directions, coming and going.  It was an all out effort.  Today was a mellow smelling the flowers and enjoying the sceanery  leisure ride.  They're all good and they're all fun!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh Boy! I Won! Summer Games Contest From Let's Go Ride A Bike

My winning prize!  Beautiful!

Wow, I just happened to log onto Facebook and found out from an online friend in the UK that I won the bike contest online that I had entered.  Cool!  A gorgeous set of panniers.  Yay me!  Here is the link to the LGRAB website (it can also be found under my favorite sites on the right hand side of this page.  But this link is to the blog post announcing some of the contestants and catagories. 

It's so much fun to try new things, the contest was a big win all the way around because I tried several new things I might otherwise not have tried.  And now I'll be getting a set of beautiful panniers.  Yipee!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Practice Hill Run

What you don't find out your own back door? A mere mile and a half from home I found a short route to practice hill climbing on. Lately I have spent a great deal of time traveling the dirt back roads around my community, I had a route to a County Park that I followed several times. Often I wondered what lie ahead if I continued on the road I was on and didn't turn to take the road to the park. On Monday I decided to explore it.  I found a set of four rolling hills.  Whee!  In a short span of just over a mile and a half I had the opportunity to practice hills and momentum.  I had so much fun I went back on Wednesday and did them again.  These are going to be part of my routine and I hope to tackle that route once a week for climbing practice.  They are clustered together, steep and have very short pinnacle tops.  According to MapMyRide of just this short section there is one catagory 5 climb in it.

It's a great workout plus it's a lot of fun too.  Gets a bit scary on the downhills with dirt roads but thrilling too.  Speeds are just above 25 mph and with gravel, rocks and very limited sight distance it does get hairy!   It's also a beautiful ride with a very thick tree canopy overhead that keeps you in the shade, portions are like being in a deep forest.  Slightly spooky, very cool. 

If I manage to keep this into a weekly routine I bet I get stronger pretty quick.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Commuting And Cool Down

Not cool down from exercise but our temps in Michigan have cooled down from the hot summer heat wave that affected most of the mid-west and nation.  It sure makes commuting enjoyable and I have commuted every day this week, luckily all meetings I've had this week have been right in town and I can bike to them too. 

This morning was the lovliest of mornings in a long while.  No humidity, mile high blue skies, no wind and cool temps.  There was the hint of fall in the air, it made me just a little sad even though I love the fall season it was just the reminder that time is flying past.  Also the middle school sign that I pass daily changed from saying "have a great summer vacation" to "school starts September 6th."  Thud.  There goes summer.  Well, not really but the signs are in the air.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Weekly Recap #18 For The 2011 Outdoor Season

Last Friday I closed week #18 with 42.41 miles for the week.  Not as much as I would have liked but a lot for the short number of days that I was able to ride.  I had one rest day and was gone for 3 days for a conference out of town but did manage an hour bike ride on a rental while I was away.  I had no way of measuring the ride except by time and knowing my average minus photo opportunities along the way.  I am feeling strong after a nice long ride (for me) and looking forward to my ride tomorrow with the group of back road riders.

LGRAB - More Entries

I have two new entries for the Summer Games in the Let's Go Ride A Bike contest.  I was away for the last few days at a conference for the Michigan Townships Association Legislative Conference in northern Michigan at a place called Crystal Mountain.  It's a great place for skiers or golfers or people just looking for a very relaxing place to stay.  My sisters accompanied me and it was nice to have company on the ride up and in the evenings after classes and sessions.
One of the objectives in the contest is to rent a bike while on vacation and another objective is to ride a different syle of bike than you normally ride.  It was lucky for me to have this conference fall in the dates of the contest and luckier yet that the facility offered bike rentals.  (the facility is very sports orientated with a fitness spa, ski runs, golf courses, kayak rentals, exercise classes, yoga, even outdoor mountain top yoga!).  With a busy and packed schedule of educational events for the conference I found that a 6 a.m.  morning ride was my only opportunity to get some riding in.  It was a beautiful cool and somewhat foggy morning riding through this quaint and picturesque resort.  I was very grateful that there were no vehicles on the road that morning as riding a new style bike (with VERY skinny tires) took some getting used to.  Fortunately it didn't take all that long to get over the wobbles, a couple of spins around the parking lot and I was ready for the road.  Road bikes are fast and agile!  I chose a bike with flat bar handelbars opposed to the curled drop bar style of a true road bike but may test one of those bikes at another date.    There were several miles of roadway throughout the grounds and I had a good chance to explore and test out a road bike on hills and rolling terrain.  The gear shifting was different than my usual ride and it seemed easy enough to get used to.  My bike puts me in a very upright position and this test ride bike had me in the more traditional road bike position of being more bent over the bike.  It was comfortable enough, however different.  I imagine that in rides longer than the hour I went out for there would be additional periods of adjustment.  The skinnier hard seat was a bit of a challenge in the last quarter of the ride as my tush is used to more cush.

If not for the contest from LGRAB I probably would still wonder what riding a road bike was like, I can honestly say that I probably would have rented a bike like my own.  This contest prompted me to try something new and I am very happy that I did.  I totally get the allure of road bike riding after this test ride.  Is a road bike in my future?  Time will tell, for now I love my bike and the places that it takes me.  My bike fits the kind of riding that I have been accustomed to and the terrain that I ride and is suited to the exploring nature of my rides.
The bike that I rented was a Rocky Mountain Metro 5 bike.  It's classified as an Urban Road Hybrid.  It had three chainrings up front and a more gearing in the rear cassette however much of that gearing was for faster riding opposed to the climbing gears that I have on my bike.  I ride a bike with twist shifters and this bike had push levers located just below the grips right where my thumb would be, so they were easy and convenient.  Also now I know why most bikes pictured in photos are leaned up against posts, no kickstand!
The conference was great and very informative and having my sisters along made it that much more of a joy.  When I woke this morning without their chatter I was saddened and missed them very much.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nothing Says Summer Like...

Ongoing participation in the LGRAB Summer Games is a blast, I am trying new and different things and looking at my rides with "new" eyes.  I try to commute to work and did pretty good this spring and early summer but when the heat waves started coming one after another I drifted over to using my car.  The Summer Games has me motivated to use my bike for commuting again.  The collage from above was from yesterday's ride to and from work.  There is a photo of Whitmore Lake from dockside at Harbor Cove, the "School's Out" sign at WL Middle School and of course a still shot of the beloved ice cream man's truck. 

I love the ice cream truck and the music it plays in the video whisks me back in time to when I was a kid again.  Basically that is how I feel on my bike, like a kid.    Maybe that's why I ride grinning from ear to ear.

While I am on this path of new and different things I went out for an early morning ride today instead of my evening rides after work.  I like.  Lots!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bicycle and Pedestrian Infastructure - The Barker Road Path Project

Being a proponent of bicycling and serving our Township as its Supervisor I have a unique story for the summer games.  I have helped to lead an initiative to create the first non motorized path in our township.  The desire to see a bike path in our township was the motivation for myself and two other board members. 

The opportunity came in the form of a newspaper article about a new grant opportunity being offered by our County Parks and Recreation department, I read the article and called on the person from Parks and Rec that was quoted in the article.  It appeared that the county had not fully implemented this program yet and it was still in the development phase.  This was in the winter of 2008, by May of 2009 the program was ready, grant applications were being accepted and the criteria for applying for them was in place.  We submitted our application for Phase I of a multi phase project in December of 2009 and received the award for the project in March of 2010. 

We set about acquiring right’s of way, easements and approval from the Department of Natural Resources for crossing over a wetland area in Phase I.  In June of this year we were given the permit from the DNR to begin, we set about advertising for bids, opened sealed bids on July 13th and on the 22nd  of July our board approved the contractor for work on Phase I.  A contract is being prepared and at long last work will begin on the project!  The time frame for Phase I is four weeks and that phase should be up and running before school opens.  A small group is being formed to ride it the day it opens.  With the July 22nd meeting falling in the time frame of the contest dates and that meeting carrying the approval for work to begin I submit this for “support for bicycling infrastructure catagory”.  I am in a unique position to be able to influence and authorize projects like this and am happy to be an advocate for non motorized transportation infastructure.

An overal map of the project can be found here and the narrative, scope of the project and outline of the pathway can be found here.  In the outline of the project there are links to the exisiting Border to Border Trail in Washtenaw County and what future plans are to have a county wide network of pathways.  To view the meeting agenda and packet information for the July 22nd meeting where the Board approved the contractor click here.