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, September 28, 2011


Monday evening I took a ride to the Village of Dexter, the purpose was for multiple reasons, it's a quaint town that I enjoy visiting, I wanted to do a recon ride there to scope out a longer ride for a weekend day trip and lastly I was checking out progress on the riverfront development they are planning.  I used to live just north of that village and often passed through Dexter on my way to Ann Arbor via the scenic back roads.  It was a sleepy little village typical of anytown USA but as most communities go it had it's own unique character and natural features, not the least of which is the Huron River winding through the village, a cider mill and quaint shops. 

I had not been through Dexter in a number of years since I had moved and took a trip there a couple of years ago and was amazed at how the sleepy little village had grown into a vibrant expanding community that managed to preserve the local flair and incorporate new development into existing community so seamlessly.  The community could be a model for this. 

When I was elected into my current position I visited many small communities that I had explored years ago and sought to see how they have changed and evolved and dealt with new development.  In and around Washtenaw and Livingston counties there are countless little cities, villages, bergs, towns and townships.  Time has been kind to some of them and others not so much.  I traveled to places that have had no apparent change whatsoever, some that had big change, some that had changed for the worse and some that had changed for the better.  The Village od Dexter is one of the model communities that has embraced change and development and not lost it's character or charm. 

That is not an easy task and takes a leadership team with singular focus and much planning.  I interact with officials from the community through my various committees at the County level and have built relationships with many in my peer group.  Particularly I was interested in having members of our DDA (downtown development authority) meet with members of their group and members of village council.  I arranged for a field trip about a year and a half or two ago and we did a walking tour through their community.  There were lots of questions exchanged along our way and we had a luncheon afterwards where they discussed how they managed the planning and change.  I was a new Township Supervisor at the time and I wanted to know how they were able to fund so much progess and municipal projects.  I also realized that this happened over a period of many years but the most profound take away from the meeting was twofold; leverage commuity dollars with grant funding from state, county and federal sources and secondly getting all of the community groups on board with a shared vision.  It is a model that I have pursued aggressively in pursuits for my own community.  Time will be the judge of it's effectivness.  All of that aside, I had a throughly enjoyable ride exploring the side streets and the main throughfare through town, scoped out the ride to the cider mill and spent some quiet time reflecting by the rapids.  By the time I ambeled about town it was too late to bike ride to Hudson Mills Metro park nearby so I rode there in my car after loading up my bike and scoped out the connection to the park. 

This will make for a dandy ride for a day trip.  It allows for a couple of options.  Bringing bike by vehicle, parking in town and riding to the cider mill and nearby park with bike trails for a 10-12 mile loop or to leave from Northfield and visit the cider mill, park and exploring downtown for a 20-25 mile ride.  Both good options depending on how much time is alloted for cycling that day.
Dexter's Plan for a river front park

Early stages of the riverfront development

The path ends as soon as you get past the bridge

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Harvest time is not only for large scale farm operations but for the container grower as well. Sunday afternoon was a beautiful sunny day and perfect timing for clean up outdoors, getting rid of tired flowering plants, putting away the outdoor furniture and harvesting my home grown herbs!All summer long I have fresh parsley, thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, rosemary, chives and spearmint.  Clipping plants down before frost sets in and allowing them to dry gives me enough herbs to satisfy any culinary whim I dream up over the winter.
French Tarragon
The biggest added bonus?  Right about now the house smells lovely.  So aromatic! 

After they are washed and air dried for a day or two I finish them off in a warm oven set to it's lowest thermal setting to eliminate any moisture.  If not completely dried they can be a source of food poisoning.  If you put them into spice jars and notice any bit of moisture forming when sealed, discard.  I've never had this happen but when they are in the oven I watch them closely, the difference between dried and toast is not much.
Greek Oregano
Parlsey and chive are so hardy that I leave a bit of the plant to continue to grow right up to snowfall.  Nothing quite like fresh snipped parsley or chives on fresh veggies or potatoes. Or mixed in with cream cheese on a freshly  toasted bagel.  That is a Saturday morning treat!

Speaking of treats, candy corn is everywhere on display - oy - my weakness!  I haven't broken down and bought a bag just yet...but...

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Yesterday I ushered in the fall season with a peaceful ride to Kensington Metro Park, pictured above was a resting stop lakeside at Maple Beach to enjoy the stillness of the lake.

Today I was back and this photo is from a brief stop trailside, enjoying the scents and sounds of the woodlands, trailside in the park. Autumn has such unique smells, it's like the culmination of the fullness of summer.
A bit further up the trail I spotted a foursome of sandhill cranes, by the time I stopped and got my camera out of my gear bag, only one was left.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mileage Week #25

I got to my lower range of the goal I set for mileage but how I got there was not in the plan.  I had anticipated longer rides with increased mileage in them with the frequency turned down.  I've finally shaken the illness that had me in it's grip but it's left me weak and short on energy.  I rode six days and all but two rides were in the single digits for mileage.  I need to step it up for the Tour de Livingston which is coming up October 9th.  I have not decided on the route I'll choose yet, but I'll will before long.

So weekly mileage for week #25 was 51.54 with 6.33 hours on the bike.  Average ride trended lower and mph trended down as well.  I need to crank 'er up.

Construction Begins

A sidewalk to no-where ends at wetlands, school is just beyond
  At long last the construction of the very first non motorized path in Northfield Township begins!  Hurray!  The project began with an idea and was realized through opportunity, work and perseverance.  The idea came from need, we didn't have a good pedestrian, non motorized plan or program in place.  We had many good trails nearby but no access to them unless you went by automobile.  Our elementary school had no pedestrian access that was safe, there was a series of stop and start faltering sidewalks and a large segment of the population of the community lived off of that same road, connecting them with the downtown community (shopping, banking, library and post office) was a concern.

Enter in a newspaper article about the County launching a new initiative for grants called "Connecting Communities."  Ahah!  A funding source is born! The concept of a path down Barker Road from Main Street to the Elementary School achieved connecting communities and it is the first step in a plan of interconnecting trails in Northfield Township with surrounding communities to create a network of trails for non motorized transportation to the surrounding region and State.  In Michigan there is a rails to trails path that goes from the west, Lake Michigan, across the entire state to Lake Erie and Lake Huron on the east side of the state.  Major sections of this have alreay been constructed, however many links are missing.  There are gaps in certain areas.  This will put us one step closer to major links in the surrounding communities.

The work part came with taking the idea and conceptual drawings around on a "road show" in the community.  A series of meetings with local groups, clubs and organizations followed seeking their support both in word, letter and deed. I made over a dozen presentations to the schools, chamber of commerce, library, my own board, the DDA, student council, churches, Kiwanis groups and many more.  We asked for financial contributions to help the township and downtown development authority match the grant frunding.  While our government entities posted up the necessary lions share of the matching funds, smaller contributions from these groups demonstrated widespread community support.  We worked hard to gain that and were successful and appreciative of the support we received.

In these economic times it's no easy feat to gain support of a program that, to many could appear frivolous, when there are competing essential needs and services.  Building attractive communities with amenities that offer residents healthier choices and recreational opportunities is a big part of ecconomic development, and in the long run leads to a more vibrant and sustainable community.  Telling that story and educating the populace is a big task.  But it is doable and has been accomplished.  Photos show the before conditions and construction progress.  Completion is anticipated by mid October for Phase I.  The project is multi-year phased and details can be found at this link.  Details, maps and the scope of the project can be found there. 

It's hard to imagine how happy I felt the day work began.

Color me with a BIG SMILE!

Looking east from the elementary school before

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tubbs Road

If you live in the vicinity of Washtenaw County and enjoy gravel roads, it's a must to travel Tubbs Road at least once in your life.  The scenery is almost surreal, it's dark and forebodding and has a Jurrasic Park or Star Wars feel to it.  The road itself is like a technical mountain bike trail with twists, turns, large chunky gravel and washboard effects.  I rode my brakes 90% of the time downhill.  I could not quite imagine climbing it's steep grade.  I did the following route clockwise starting at St. Pat's Church on Northfield Church and Whitmore Lake Road.  There is no escaping getting back up to grade however, the climb up Delhi Road is very steep.  Wish I had my camera because I rode along a short stretch of paved road on Huron River Drive, crossed over an iron work bridge and took a break overlooking the rapids and watched a fly fisherman downstream of the rapids working his line.  Very pretty.  This is going to be a great route during the color change, must take the camera next time.  If it was earlier in the day and I had the time I would have made this into a trip to the Dexter Cider Mill which was just a few more miles up Huron River Drive.  Next time!

My Route Today

Saturday, September 17, 2011

They're Here!

Hooray!  The panniers that I won in the Let's Go Ride A Bike Summer Games Contest arrived.  Here they are pictured, however the bike was muddy from my last dirt road ride.

Yesterday ended Week #24 of this year's outdoor riding season with 44.54 in mileage.  Not too bad for 4 days of riding.  Overall I am working on upping my weekly mileage.  The last two to three weeks have been off that trend with vacation, work conference and being ill interrupting my schedule.  Barring unforseen circumstances I should be back on track.  My short term goal is to work up to 20 mile rides consistently like 2 times per week and the rest of the riding being in the 8-12 mile range.  That should have me consistently riding between 50-70 miles per week range for the balance of the season.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rain Outs And Redemption

The meet up ride for Saturday was rained out, we've had days on end of rain, there was a short window late on Saturday afternoon that opened up and I took advantage with a ride around my own neighboorhood which I have not done in a while.  Nice to just hop on and not transport the bike elsewhere.   Sunday afternoon was clear also and I was able to ride a nice dirt road ride right from home, clouds formed and threatened but held off until my return.  Sometimes mother nature smiles on us.  The weather has cleared and cooled and it's great for biking.  In three days I've already surpassed my last week's total mileage. 

Since I was rained out on Saturday I took my bike over to the LBS that is part of the group of three stores owned by the company where I bought my bike from.  The store in South Lyon was just great.  I explained what had happened at their other store and the gentleman working put my bike right on a repair stand and proceeded to fix the brakes, it was not brake pads that needed replacing, they needed proper adjustment was all.  I had fully expected to have to leave the bike there at least overnight but I was able to take it home with me in no time.  In mileage this store is not farther from home, just a different direction, I won't be back to the other store again, I feel like the shop in SL redeemed their reputation.  I'd been ready to chalk it up to experience but was pleasantly surprised.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Week #23 Mileage

28.89 for the week.  This was with 4 days of riding and nothing in the double digits.  I've been ill since I've returned from vacation with indigestion and weakness, I am finally feeling a bit over the hump in the last two days but we have also had steady rain for several days now.  I expected to take a short jaunt tonight but by the time I was finished with a couple of after work errands my ride was cut short by a cloudburst.

It's supposed to be nice tomorrow and I'm all set for a ride with my meet up group and we are doing the Border to Border trail from Gallup Park in Ann Arbor to Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.  Round trip is 20 miles, I'm feeling up to it and hoping by body cooperates.  It's a good thing our ride is early because tomorrow is the first U of M home game and it's their first night game ever. Town will be packed with fans!  I read someplace that scalpers are selling tickets for $3,500.  That's crazy for college football.  Actually that's crazy for any game.

Oh well - Go Blue!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Local Bike Shop Pros and Woes

A local bike shop, known in the biking world as an LBS can be a source of joy and knowledge and they can also cause you woe.  A good one is worth it's weight in gold and a bad one is best to be avoided.  I shopped all of the local stores and made treks into others in outlying areas before I settled in on a store to purchase at when I bought my bike in April.  I'd been looking since the previous autumn.

I ended up purchasing a bike from a store for two reasons;

They carried the brand of bike I wanted (fell in love with actually).
They had a policy of free lifetime tuneups and free labor on parts purchased and a 15% discount on parts and accessories.

The first reason was a very good one for making the choice I did..  The second one, not so much.  I believe that you get what you pay for and I forgot that. 

I took my bike in a few days ago and was told that the brake pads were worn and that some cables may need to be replaced and the wheels needed to be trued up.  I picked up the bike and it shifted properly so that was fixed but even as I wheeled it out of the store I felt hesitation in the way it rolled.  I mounted it on my carrier and spun the back wheel.  It barely moved and stopped.  I went right back into the store and the mechanic came out and made an adjustment after telling me some mumbo jumbo about how a rear tire won't spin as much as a front tire due to chain and deurailler etc.  Mumbo jumbo indeed.  In the store I had asked if the wheels had been trued and was never given a direct answer.   

At home and upside down I spun the cranks and while the wheels spin freely there is a noticable noise.  This bike shop has three locations and I may give another of their stores an opportunity to go over the bike for adjustments.  If the service is good, fine I'll go there from now on.  If not, I already have an LBS in mind to use where I have had some other work done on my other bike.  That shop has passion for what they do and they love bikes and people who ride them.

A good shop is worth their weight in gold.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Same Blog - New Look

At times we need a change and this blog was ready for an update, so here it is!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weather - Over and Under

Whew!  Hot spell with very high humidity came back with a vengance and left almost as quick.  Friday pm a friend at the ball game said it was 98 in the stands.  Today 55 outside.  Typical Michigan weather.  During the week the mercury rose daily with Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the high 90's.  Sunday was cooler but the humidity was so bad you never knew it and today was downright chilly.  All of this has not affected my bike riding as much as being "under the weather" has.  Since my return from my trip I've been feeling pretty bad and believe that I have a nasty bug in my digestive system.  This is lingering much longer than it should.  I've had no to very short rides mostly around town.  I've ridden 24 miles in the last 5 days with two of those rides being earlier in the week when I wasn't feeling so bad.

Yesterday when it cooled off a bit later in the day I got ambitious and did a through cleaning of my bike and decided to "tinker" with the adjustment on my front derailleur.  Not a good idea.  I can be a fairly ok mechanic and am not afraid to work on my bike but his was a bit ambitious as it is one of the more difficult and subtle adjustments on a bike.  I watched a couple of youtube videos on the subject and mucked it up somehow.  Stuck in the smallest chainring up front.  Off to the Local Bike Shop.  They looked it over and pronounced that I needed a good tune up as the brake pads were worn, cables needed changing on the shifters etc.  All of that is well and good, the main reason I bought my bike from this shop was that they had free tune ups and labor for the life of the bike.  Plus I get a 15% discount on parts and accessories.  Good deal.

However they were preparing to close and would not be open over the holiday so the soonest I could get my bike back was Tuesday pm.  I was feeling so poorly for the last week I really hankered for at least a short ride and decided to take it home and bring it back on Tuesday morning.  Well I tweaked it some more and got it to go into the smallest and middle size front chain ring so 2 out of 3 isn't too bad.  However one of the rear brake pads was dragging and no amount of tinkering fixed it.  Shop was right.  Ride was just ok all things considering...bike on the fritz and me feeling all draggy and listless.  Oh well, at least it was cooler today and when I get my bike back this week it should be good as new.  With over 850 miles on this bike I'd say a tune up is overdue.

I wondered how long brake pads lasted and will note to get them checked at the 700 mile mark.  I am certain that their life is shorter considering the dirt roads and hilly terrain that I travel.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week #22

Mileage for week #22 of this outdoor riding season was 39.56 miles.  I've read up a bit on training and each 6-8 weeks a person needs to take an off week or a light week.  Except for my Monday ride on Walsh Road, this would qualify as a week of low intensity riding.  No double digit mileage this week, all but one day was under ten miles.  Four days of riding and 4.25 hours on the bike.  Good timing for this as the heat has returned with a big spike in temps and unbelievable humidity.  I've been under the weather for a few days now and looking forward to lower temps at the beginning of next week.