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, December 29, 2012

Preparations For Next Year's Riding Season

Or otherwise known as passing time dreaming of the new season to come. I've been busy at MapMyRide searching out and mapping routes to help accomplish next year's riding goals. One of the things I intend to do is to ride in urban areas. While it may sound frightening to consider riding in downtown Detroit, from what I have read and hear from others, riding the new River Walk and Belle Isle is safe along with the ride north out of downtown on the Dequindre cut to the Eastern Market. You can find my maps here and here at the Map My Ride website. In this instance I'll look schedule these rides with one or more friends, twofold; for safety's sake and I imagine it's going to be a fun outing best enjoyed with others. I expect that photo opportunities, if not the actual ride itself, will be rewarding.

These photos are taken from the Detroit River Front Conservancy's website where I found a storehouse of information about using the water front for
a bicycle outing and tour. The photo in the upper left corner is of the Milliken State Park and Harbor with the Ren Cen in the backgrop. The photos above this paragraph are of the Dequindre Cut leading to Eastern Markent and the small photo on the right is of the River Walk. The Dequindre Cut was a below grade rail bed leading to the Eastern Market, presumably for goods that came via river freighter, abandoned long ago the railway has been paved, the graffiti remains as "urban artwork." The Eastern Market is a vast area of food retail and wholesalers that is much more than a farmer's market, it's a retail food hub of epic proportions with a long history of being "the" marketplace for all things edible.

I was born and raised in the city till about 4th grade when my parents moved and still have a fondness for it. Detroit has a poor image, worldwide and nationally, however there are several corporations who invest heavily in the city. General Motors is one of several who, being one of the Big Three automakers in the Motor City capital of the world, has donated heavily to efforts to help revitalize the city and are major stakeholders in working toward a comeback.

Will it ever happen?

Can this ever be a great city again?

It's possible but first the corruption and isolationist mindset must be routed out of City Council. The current Mayor Bing, who was a former Detroit Pistons Basketball star, has the vision coupled with an athlete's winning attributes, however he is hampered by the Council who perhaps share that vision but are clueless over how to achieve it. The River Front redevelopment is a large undertaking by volunteers and persons dedicated to revival in the city, there has been cooperation from the State with the Harbor and Milliken State Park which is named for a former Governor of our state. So far the redevelopment has focused on the property eastward of Cobo Hall, their next project is westward which currently remains blighted and a poor waste of a valuable water resource. For years the river was never regarded as the star that it is, warehousing and industrial uses littered the banks and the natural features went ignored and out of sight of the people. Waterways serve a useful purpose for commerce and trade but sections, especially in down towns should be reserved for the enjoyment of the natural feature by it's people. If the city is ever to make a comeback these kinds of efforts will help to lead it to a rebirth. The video below sure can give hope to that dream.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Time To Break Out The Trainer



With the amount of snow on the ground and the falling temps it's time to break out the trainer for the bike and take to indoor riding.  Agrrrrrh.  I loath indoor trainer riding, however it helps to combat the Christmas cookie and other holiday fare indulgences that have been going on for over a month.  Also my "seat" stays conditioned to a saddle and I can avoid the early season ouchies from having been off the saddle for months.  Another plus is that it helps to make me stronger for the coming year, contributes to overall fitness and helps out with my arthritis and keeps me flexible.  Now if only there was some way to imitate the birdies singing, the wind in my face and the fresh spring, summer and fall scents I'd be in heaven.  For now I'll have to be content with summer dreaming.  Step one was to get the regular tire off and install the trainer tire.  Since I don't change flats that often I always take pictures to help me ensure that everything goes back the same way it was before I took the tire off.  Tomorrow I hook it on the trainer and I'm ready to tackle spinning my way to health.

Here is a shout out and big thank you to Shaun Bhajan owner of Hometown Bicycles in Brighton Michigan who kindly opened the store for me and swapped tires out on my wheel.  The store is closed between Christmas and New Year's and he was busy painting the shop but went out of his way to open up and do this repair for me, at no charge to boot!  Shaun goes the extra mile day after day for his customers, that's why he has such a successful shop.

Trainer tires are extra skinny and hard for me to get on and off of the wheel rim.  Thank you Shaun!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kensington to Milford

We were blessed with yet another day for outdoor riding.  Temps were in the mid to upper 40's F, winds were calm and sunshine was abundant.  I traveled from the northern reaches of Kensington Metropark to downtown Milford.  The route is colorful and varied starting out in a parkland wooded setting it meanders through open fields, woodlands, swales and navigates around a series of ponds and bodies of water with the Huron River winding through downtown Milford.  There was a dam to cross over Hubbel Pond and I came across a pair of deer who gave me no mind whatsoever. I'm sure they found me more of a curosity than a threat and made no attempts to dart away.

This is the same dam that I rode over but the photo was from a ride there last year

 Downtown Milford was crowded with shoppers and somehow bicycling among Christmas decorations seemed a bit out of place.  Next time I plan to spend the day checking out the shops and get a bite to eat at one of the quaint pubs.  The ride was just over 10 miles and with all the sightseeing and nosing about I was on the trail for an hour and 17 min.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Look Ahead To Next Year's Riding Goals

Well, I've given up saying this is the last outdoor ride, because every time the temps turn seasonal for a few days we end up getting another bout of mild weather.  The last warm temps came with a lot of rain so riding was out earlier this week when the temps climbed up to the 60's.  But I count myself lucky to be out riding even today in the mid 30's.

Of course this time of year we look at recapping the current year and then of course that leads to thinking about the new year coming.  With that in mind I made up a list of things so far that I want to do next year and it incorporates adventure, variety, new ventures and challenges me mentally as well as physically.

This compilation is going to look at bike riding as a part of life and not only stats and goals, mileage, time, speed etc.  It’s meant to look at bicycling as a way of life as well as a means of working towards fitness, that doesn’t mean I won’t incorporate normal biking goals though. 
·         Ride 5 new trails or paths
·         Do at least 2 urban rides in a city
·         Take my bike on at least one vacation
·         Rent a bike on one vacation in a style different than what I normally ride
·         Take on one bicycle advocacy initiative
·         Go on a bike ride with a kid under 10 yrs old who is not a relative
·         Test ride some different bikes than what I normally ride
·         Ride a tandem
·         Do at least one charity ride
·         Do at least 2 group rides
·         Train to ride a trip of 40 miles
·         Ride 1,000 miles next year
·         Increase my riding average speed to 10 mph
·         Ride a real mountain bike trail

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Pause Before Winter Sets In

Last week we had the Thanksgivng holiday break and mild weather for what might be the last bike rides of the season with light summer garb on.  On Wednesday I was able to get out in short sleeves and a pair of knicker length bottoms.  Even though I set out by 2:30 the sun dips low on the horizon early and thankful for packing a light windbreaker I ended my ride with a jacket on.  It was the longest ride post surgery exploring the upper reaches of the Border to Border trail I rode from Brandemere Park to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital with a new found biking friend.  It was nice to show the route to someone new and have some new company to ride with.  Ride total was just under 14 miles. 

Thanksgiving day saw more of the same mild temps and I got out fairly early for a ride around Kent Lake at Kensington for a 9 mile ride before high tailing it home to get my portion of the family Thanksgiving meal prepared and whisk it off to the family dinner.  Again this time it was shorts and short sleeves again.  That'll be a thing of the past as the temps are to dip down to more seasonally chilly weather.

Indeed the weekend and first part of this new week temps are downright cold.  By Tuesday, yesterday, the wind was non-existant and the sun was shining so brightly I set off for a bike ride in 32 F degree temps.  It's the first time I've ridden in weather that cold.  Last year I ventured out in some mid 40 F degree days.  Actually it was not so bad, I was dressed appropriately with a windbreaker, hat and half gloves which were ok for a short 4 mile ride.  If I do this again though I'll be using full fingered gloves and my neoprene headband to cover my ears.  Ears and thumbs and fingertips were stinging a mite bit when I got home.

Shifting gears into a more seasonal frame of mind I spent yesterday evening with my Godson Andrew baking Ninja-bread men.  Tasty results!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Weeks and Back on My Bike

Yesterday I had a post op visit to the Doc and he cleared me for riding.  The report was good and healing is moving along swiftly so it's all systems go!

Short ride today with a friend down to the boat launch but boy oh boy did it feel great to be back on the bike!  I was a tad bit apprehensive for a minute but it became all very familiar in less than a hundred yards. 

The ride was a bit under 4 miles but they were the sweetest miles all year.  Looks like our Michigan weather will cooperate through the weekend so I hope to get in a pair of rides this weekend.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This Is About The Shortest Journey Ever Expected

It's two weeks and 5 days post surgery and all is very good.  I had expected a much longer recuperation and down time.  At two weeks post surgery I was back at my desk at work for a few hours anyway.  This week I've been at work daily but short days they are.  There is a lot to do to get ready to transition out of the Supervisors office.  Light packing, files to work on and work continues but at a slower pace. 

We are having a bout of Indian Summer with temps soaring into the high 70's today and perhaps 80's tomorrow.  Oh my goodness how I want to hop on my bike!  Sigh.  I am fearful because of the handle bars and my incision.  If not for that and the breastbone that is still healing I'd go out for a ride for sure.  There is always the possibility of a tumble and I don't think I could take that.  I want to go so bad I can taste it!  The spirit is willing but the flesh is not.

The brightest spot at the moment is that work has commenced on Phase II of the non-motorized path project.  The Board of Trustees did it's utmost to stall, delay and obstruct the beginnings of this but lo and behold ground broke on Monday and as I drove over to the job site and took more photos today the contractors are taking full advantage of the weather and going lickety split on the project. 

If you are a facebook user you can find more photos at this link: Northfield Township FB page.  Here are a few I snapped today. .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Made It

Oct 5, someone is calling my name and I'm in a room surrounded by lots of electronics, before I know it my sisters are at my side.  Thirst.  Unquenchable thirst and no relief.  Pre-surgical visit with a nurse let me know exactly what to expect on awakining and that's a very good thing.  The breathing tube prevents any communicatons and you are restrained so that you don't pull it out.  This was something I had dreaded and feared but it came out within a couple of hours or so it seemed without much incident.  I was tired and sleepy and drifted in and out of it.  People and faces appeared and dissapeared in front of me over the next several hours and so much was a blur.  By evening I was more alert and talkative and holy crow I'm told that I'll be dangling over the side of the bed and sure enough I was and was asked to stand and take a few steps.  Success.  The least effort tires me easily and those steps were like an outdoor bike riding session.

Sleeping, resting, dozing over the next few days and little by little they begin to take hoses and tubes out.  I'm getting freed.  I get up and take little steps but continue to tire easily.  Where is my strength?  Where is my energy?

I have a good appetite but get full after a few bites, oh boy do I miss coffee!  Cardiac floor gets special diets and caffeine is not part of it, neither is salt.  Yikes, I'm a good cook and appreciate food correctly seasoned.  Food is tasty but bland at the same time and suddenly everything tastes peppery, must be the drugs given.  Some times I get insulin, I'm told that the procedure knocks your sugar levels off and am running slightly diabatic but that ceases after a few days so no more finger pricks and shots of that stuff.  That's okay because there are plenty of other jabs and pokes.  My care is excellent.  The USA has world class health care supersceeded by none.  I hope this Prez is ditched and the healthcare overhaul gets mothballed. 

The heart is angry over being assulted and the Docs constantly fiddle and fine tune meds, adjusting as necessary until all systems are correctly operational.  The body has been through a lot and it takes some time to adjust and regain normal operatons.  They'd probably be thinking about sending me home but my blood pressure remains too low and I go back to surgical ICU, there I get a unit of blood and that seems to do the trick.  Blood pressure climbs to normal ranges, but on the lower end of the spectrum which is usually where I am.    

On the sixth day I'm sprung out and get released.  October 10th.  Yay!  Oh no!  Mixed feelings, glad to be heading homeward bound but a tiny bit apprehensive.  This has been my safety net, my God dozens upon dozens of people have been caring for and monitoring my every breath, literally.  I trust the Doc and look forward to staying with my sister.  It's great to be in familiar surroundings, it's nice and quiet here compared to the constant activity at the hospital and sleep, glorious sleep, is mine.  Hours of restorative sleep later I feel refreshed and good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Journey

Oct. 5th I awaken in what feels like the middle of the night to be at the hospital at 5:30 am.  Up, do the scrub prescribed which was a repeat of the process right before bedtime.  Close the two suitcases, one for the hospital and one for the stay at my sisters afterwards for recovery time.  Pack up the car, survey to see if anything is left behind, stop and pray. 

I drive to sis's home and she and her husband drive me to the hospital where we are met with my other sister and niece.  Admitting is momentary and I'm off to get changed into hospital duds, the pre-op area they usher me into is waiting with several carousels filled with an array of bags, wow all that stuff's going in me?   A team of Docs stops in over the next half hour introducing themselves and their part in the surgery team.  Everyone is nice, chipper and makes me feel confident.  Family is let back in before I'm whisked away.  I feel strangely calm, much more so than my sisters are looking, they are nervous and apprehensive and teary-eyed.  We re-assure one another and I'm off and being wheeled down the hall and making small jokes with the group that is flanking me. 

The O.R. is stone cold but before I know it I have pre-warmed blankets covering me, everyone sets about their job, there is a flurry of activity by no less than at least a dozen people that I can see, I drift of with the 23rd Psalms on my lips. ..

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life Is Full Of Surprises

Dear Readers,

I've been absent for some time and apologize for the lack of posts.  In early September I finally made the plunge to go with having my second knee replacement on my other leg.  It was a tough decision to cut the season short but I'd been suffering far too much.  The surgery was scheduled for Monday September 17th and the Friday before I visited with the cardiologist to get cleared for surgery due to a heart mummur I have.  Much to my surprise he would not clear me for knee surgery and said instead I needed to have a heart valve replacement first.

Shock.  Awe.  What?

This was an about face I was not expecting and was in no way whatsoever was I geared up to have open heart surgery.  Life can be funny that way at times, the best laid plans...

Fast forward, new surgery date for new surgery type.  October 5th.  The week before this I had a heart catheratization to check for any other impending problems to be addressed at the time of surgery.  I must lead a charmed life and have no arterial blockages at all to deal with.  Actually it is somewhat ironic that my diet is not what you would think of as a "health conscience" diet, or so my older sister always counsels.  One of my other hobbies is cooking and I use butter and cream and other traditional cuisine methods of French cooking.  Must be the wine that thins the blood out too and keeps the arteries clean?  Whatever it is, I am blessed.

I used my time until heart surgery to work my heart on my bike and tried to pack in as many 5-8 mile rides as I could.  I had lost the stamina for distance that I had last year, what with a couple of accidents off the bike for a time and having campaigning take up all my riding time this summer. Whereas last year I logged over 1,200 miles, this season I was doing good to break 500.  Michigan fall was pretty cooperative and I managed to get in several rides including a ride the day before my surgery.  I soaked up as much vivid sceanery, sights, sounds and smells of fall to carry me through days in the hospital and unpleasant moments.

Surgery was very successful and pretty uneventful.  I am not the most patient patient.  Recovery and down time is difficult to cope with, rather than fight and complain over the recovery journey or process I've decided to blog this journey to back to health.  I hope that in the coming days and month that I will be able to give someone who is also facing the same issue of heart surgery recovery a chance to have hope about the recovery process, what to expect or at least some form of commiseration.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm Riding Little by Little

I have been back on the bike bit by bit, most of the rides have been short 6 miles or less but I am working toward building up strength and stamina again.  Between campaigning and time off the bike from a fall I am far far short of mileage numbers like I was able to post last year.  There's always next season. 

I've tried to note any tenativness on the bike and so far the only place that seems to be happening is when it comes to stops and tight situations.  I see that I take less risk when faced with an iffy bit of navigation.  We'll see how much the courage comes back over time.  Maybe courage is not the right word but more like feeling one with the bike.  I think that comes with more time on it.

Happy riding!  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Ride After Crash

Road rash is nearly all healed and gone but my ribs still hurt like the Dickens, however yesterday after work I braved a short ride just around 4 miles.  I was a bit tenative at first and it was a pretty slow ride around town.  Before I set out I had to readjust my handlebars which had taken a turn for the worse, the fall had knocked them out of alignment so that I could only go straight by pointing to the left.  The sense of accomplishment by doing my own repair set me off in a good mood.  I'd been looking with longing for the last couple of days at my bike and considering getting back on, so last night I did it.

I have to admit as much as I really love my bike and bicycling around, right after the crash I was mad at my bike and had no desire whatsoever to ride.  I had been a pretty fearless rider seldom braking down steep hills, I wonder if I will approach things the same way now?  Time will tell...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Official Road Warrior - Bike Crash

August 1st I had my first official bike crash complete with road rash and bruised ribs.  I had been out on the campaign trail in a neighborhood with asphalt roads and in one particular cul de sac the road had deteriorated to the point where there was a lot of loose gravel on top of the asphalt.  Loose gravel on a paved road is like water on top of ice.  Very slippery.  In a flash my bike skidded out from under me on a turn and I went down with a thud, belly first and ended up with a great deal of road rash on my hands, elbows, knees and had the wind knocked out of me.  Luckily I did not actually hit my face on the ground or knock out a tooth.  X-rays later showed no broken bones, they just hurt like they've been broken. I left a lot of skin behind on that road.

Like all accidents it happened so fast, one minute I was up and the next I was hurtling toward the ground belly first.  I laid there dazed and out of wind for a minute or two and finally got into a sitting position and stayed there for a while.  I reached for my cell phone and called a friend who came to my rescue. 

I've not been on my bike since the accident and really have not had much desire, not so much because I'm afraid, but because I still hurt too much in the ribs that I could not imagine riding right now.  I hope to be able to get back on in the coming weeks because I'd like to build up my strength ahead of a knee surgery that I am planning on.  I have not scheduled it yet but expect to do so today.

As an anti-climatic footnote to this post I was not successful in the primary election and my term of office will expire on November 20th of 2012.  Winning is more fun, however I am at peace with the outcome and look forward to a new chapter in my life.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This may explain my absence and time lapse with blog posts...what can I say, at times I'm a nut for stats.

156.26 miles pedaled campaigning via bicycle. Now that's not a big number for bicycling in general however this all took place within 36 square miles. Our township is 6 miles by 6 miles.

2100 homes visited and campaign literature dropped off.

1150 pieces of campaign lit mailed out.

750 pieces of campaign lit passed out at the parade.

It's winding down and we have but a week left till the primary election.  I can't wait to go for a ride where I can pedal more than 20 yards without stopping.  It'll be nice to let the wheels go round and round and ride just for the sheer joy of riding.  I do have to say that this has really been fun.

Friday, July 13, 2012

On The Bike Campaign Trail - 100% Green

A big thank you to all the supporters for your encourgament, your friendly horn tooting, shout outs and cheers of support as I bike my way through the township visitng neighborhoods door by door. Your support is appreciated and it makes the hot days and miles fly by!

Last year I committed to riding every road north and south and east and west in the township to get to know the road issues, homes and natural features up close and personal. This year with the campaign I am also getting to ride every side road and side street and greeting every resident on their doorstep. This has been a 100% green campaign by bicycle and a great way to visit every property in the township. Again, thank you for your support. We have a gorgeous and beautiful community to be very proud of.
The Green Campaign is rewarding in so many ways, I get to meet our residents while canvassing and I'm getting fresh air and making healthy choices.  Did I mention how much fun bike riding is? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Mitten Pedaler

My friend Jim is touring the perimeter of our great State Michigan by bicycle and logging his adventure at the following link Mitten Pedaler.  The photos and journal of his adventure is a worthy read for bicycling adventurers.  His travels take him along side several of the Great Lakes as we are a penninsula state surrounded by fresh water oceans.

Michiganders, celebrate Pure Michigan with Jim!

Peace Jim.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4th of July Parade Photos

Thanks to my team of supporters we had a good presence during the parade.  Not only walking or riding along with smiling and waving but engaging the crowd along the route.  We passed out over 1400 pieces of campaign material and 80 pounds of candy.  Lots of happy kids.  You can see the slide show at http://www.debforsupervisor.com/.  Besides the convertible and golf carts a few chose to ride their bikes along with me.

Here's a couple of photos of parade.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Back In The Saddle

For the time being I am back in the saddle, having another flare up and taking more steroids to combat it allows me the opportunity to ride again.  However my riding has been confined to my door to door candidate campaign.  Leisure and exercise power rides are on hold, mileage is eeking up in a cumulative way but it's all "stop and go" miles.  Riding up and down neighborhood streets and up and down people's driveways.  It does make the campaigning go quicker and give me time on the bike and exercise too.

I do enjoy the very most getting out and talking with our citizens about what's important to them and the things that impact their day to day living.  Mostly it is roads, taxes, the economy and having more places to shop and dine locally, people don't like having to drive far for services and goods.  Falling home prices due to the economy concern some people as they watch their investment dwindle.  Personal safety and security for their family is high on their list of priorities along with good schools and neighborhoods, fortunately we are blessed with providing good servies in those areas. 

So far the support has been widespread and encouraging.  People have noticed improvements in the township and are appreciative of the fiscal responsibility and restraint that has been evidenced.

So far I've logged over 65 miles campaigning and visited about 950 homes.

You can visit my campaign website at http://www.debforsupervisor.com/

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reader Contest

I invite readers to share their best bicycle ride story.  If you're following this blog you've read about my favorite bike ride now I'd like to read about yours. 

1.  Your favorite ride (yeah, I know it's hard we love them all) and a short story about it, photos appreciated.

2.  Respond via a comment to this post.

3.  Deadline is July 6th, 2012.

4.  Readers will be the judge by voting after all entries are in.

5.  Prize is bragging rights! and a feature on your blog if you have one.

I'm looking forward to reading about your rides whether recent events, childhood memories or something in between, share the fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

St. Joseph Hospital to Ford Lake

Overlook at Ford Lake

Observation Deck at Ford Lake

Boardwalk over lake, water on both sides Eagle Crest Golf Club on the left

Series of islands with arched bridges jutting out into North Bay on Ford Lake

Very nice colored concret bike trail crossing markers

Me down below

This trip was taken with my bike writing friend Deb A, we began at the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, the trail winds around the grounds and where the trail crosses a driveway they have really neat color concrete markings to help alert drivers.  I'm going to call our engineers tomorrow who are working on phase II of our non motorized path and discuss this type of marking for where the path crosses the US23 freeway exit and entrance ramp.

After winding around the campus the trail passes by Eastern Michigan University football stadium, the Convocation Center then veers off through the woods for a straight mile or more and then it's onto city sidewalks around the Eastern Campus, along Huron Drive, some residential neighborhoods and into Riverside Park and Frog Island.  Up above the river at street level is downtown Ypsi where we wandered around for a bit then headed south out of town and to Ford Lake near Bellville.  Ford Lake was created by Henry Ford (the auto mogul) who damed the river into this made made lake to use the hydro electric power for one of his plants.  The lake and area affords ample recreation opportunities with a trail around much of the lake, picnic and hiking areas, boating, kayaking, canoeing and a spectacular golf course Eagle's Crest.  It was a great ride and on Thursday the weather was perfect around 70 degrees, no humidity and abundant sunshine.  Round trip was just a hair under 15 miles.

If you'd have asked me two weeks ago, this ride would have seemed like a far away dream as I had not been able to get around much at all on foot let alone on a bike.  I saw the orthopedic surgeon last week who did total knee replacement on my left knee in 2007 and the xrays showed bone on bone with my right knee.  I had asked him if I was a candidate to get gel injections so that I could have some relief until after the campaign is over but he did not think that they would be of any help as the cartilage and cushioning is gone.  The pain is caused by rough bone edges against rough bone.  I'd just had a cortisone injection into the knee joint a couple of weeks prior and also an injection of steriod system wide and am taking a prednesone dose pack.  When that ran it's course I got on a low dose of prednesone daily for a short time until I can schedule surgery.  It sure is difficult to schedule surgery while I am feeling so very well at the time, however I don't believe this will last more than a few weeks and if I'm lucky a few months.  I am thinking right before the election in the fall of having this done.  Much will depend on scheduling surgery and my over all health.  If I can wait as long as December or the first of the year I will, however I believe that is being overly optimistic. 

It's a tough call right now, I am in the throes of an active political campaign for an August primary election and a November General election.  I run an aggressive door to door campaign and visit each home in the township, it's tough to abruptly halt that, however where I was a couple of weeks ago I wasn't doing anybody anygood, now I'm semi on the mend and got several hours of campaigning in this weekend.  One good thing is that I get to ride my bike, exercise, keep flexibility and range of motion up with my knee/leg and campaign at the same time.  Double duty...  Decisions, decisions...what is a girl to do?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Back To Riding

Miracle cure?  Modern medicine?  I'm unsure what is responsible for the turn for the better but I am grining ear to ear over feeling chipper.  A series of RA flareup's culminating in the mother-of-all-flareups left me all but incapacitated.  It was difficult if not impossible to sit, lay, stand, sleep, walk or otherwise just be in the world.  Pain was my companion and my shadow.  After a series of injections and new meds I am able to get around nearly as normal. 

Color me a very very happy camper!

I've been getting out and about on my bike in little jaunts.  Yesterday I celebrated with a grand ride, exploring the lower portion of the B2B bike trail from St. Jos hospital to Ford Lake.  That was quite a ride.  Photos and a more detailed report tomorrow.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Best Ride - Writing Prompt

A group of bike friends who like to ride and write which I am a part of likes to get together after a ride and swap writing stories and such.  At times one of our members will put out a writing prompt and the prompt for this blog post was writing about your best ride. 

My best bike ride…

This is really a tough choice to narrow it down to one, they’re all good rides. Some are outstanding, a handful are spectacular and a couple are epic. But the rule says one, so here it is. In the first year that I took cycling back up I found a new-to-me-trail. The ironic part is that I had started out on a different ride and had a flat. My ride looked to be ruined because this was before I learned to fix my own flats. I took it to the shop and much to my surprise they were able to repair it while I waited. Ok, so now my riding day was not shot, just shortened and that caused me to chose a different ride and I wanted to blaze a new path. I had read a bit about the border to border trail in Ann Arbor but barely knew anything about it. I had spied a parking lot where I often saw people unloading bikes and taking off down a trail, so I set out someplace new. I quickly found out I was on the trailhead of the B2B trail. The trail started out in as park like setting, meandered along the Huron River, took me right over the top of a dam with water rushing under my wheels, and past a canoe livery.

Without a map and the trail only being sketchily marked I wandered off track for a while looking where to pick up it up again. After the bridge over the dam it was either left or right. Left took me to the canoe livery, another park, a very wicked hill and neighborhoods with houses. I couldn’t find the trail pickup point. Back to the canoe livery and right at the dam took me on a very narrow rutted path that was dirt, however it ran alongside the river on one side and had backwaters on the other (future home of Argo Cascades). After passing by a canoe portage ramp and around an electric power plant I was able to pick up the trail again as it traveled back alongside the river and through another park. The park turned abruptly into a densely populated apartment high rise and dead ended in a parking lot. Faced again with a right or left I chose right again and was greeted with a small B2B sign indicating that I was still on the trail.

Up a steep hill and near the top I realized I was coming up to the front of the University of Michigan Hospital Complex, more signage at the top of the hill indicated a left turn along now city streets, past a community swimming pool, a set of soccer fields and veered right and back into the woods along the river again. I later learned that this was called the arboretum mile section and it was beautiful, straight and densely wooded with the river on one side. This took me into an area just above Gallup Park that was called Fursternberg Nature Area where I got off the main trail and took a meander around and through some dense woods on a narrow foot trail that had me climbing and lifting my bike over a couple of deadfalls.

I picked the trail back up when I came out of the wooded area with the circular path in it and bore to my right again and came upon Gallup Park. The river widened out quite a bit here into what looked more like a long narrow lake. There was a canoe livery there with a concession stand that had beverages and ice cream. The area had lots of benches and picnic tables with large groups of people enjoying the outdoors in many different ways. Again the path made a loop around that portion of the river that looked like a lake with a series of small wooden bridges over a series of tiny little islands. There was a butterfly farm, a fountain, places to fish or put in a rowboat or canoe, and several places with playground equipment and picnic pavilions scattered in various places in this big park.

After making a loop I kept along the main path leaving the park behind and the trail continued along the river through wooded sections. I came to another dam and found by trial and error and making different choices, backtracking that I could bear to the right and wind through what is called Parkers Mill and end up in nearly the same place topside on the roads or bearing to the left over the dam up a wickedly steep hill and over a bridge over the top of the river, dam and park and end up on surface streets right before Washtenaw Community College with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital complex looming just ahead about a ¼ mile.

At that point I realized just how far I had come and decided to head back and explore the lower half of the trail on a different day. I was amazed at the distance covered and nearly all of it via bike pathway with a little bit of off road and some city streets thrown in. More incredible yet was the variety of terrain and scenery that this path carried me past. One moment you would be in densely wooded areas that seemed wild and remote only to round a bend and find yourself in a city/urban environment. The trail was richly diverse, provided me with an awesome adventure, great views and a wonderful experience. Discovering a new trail is such an adventure and satisfies the curious explorer in me. Exploring is one of my favorite pastimes, it dovetails nicely with bicycling.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Currently Out of Commission

This bike season just might be cut very short for me.  Far too many thngs going on in my right leg at the moment.  Knee pain, muscle weakness, strong cramping in my calf muscle and hamstring, sciatica pain and more that is enough to keep me off the bike and considering getting total knee replacement on my right side.  I suffered through much of this several years ago on the left side and the Dr. always says that only you will know when it's time to get it done.  I think it might be time.

Well, it's off to see the surgeon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brandemer Park Last Friday

This is the view of downtown Ann Arbor as you come into town from it's northern entrance in Brandemere Park via the bike pathway.  It's a whole lot nicer view than what you get by automobile.  From the road it is a bit run down, shabby and very industrial, the saving grace is that as you first exit the freeway you get a view from the hilltop of the downtown skyline plus a good view of the University of Michigan Hospital complex, Huron River and Argo Dam.  The photo comes from an article about the lack of an attractive northern entry into town.  The section of blight is short but it's one of the first things you see after the great hilltop view.  It's an incongrous, from beauty to blight and on to big and bustling downtown.  It's like it doesn't make sense, it doesn't flow.  You can read the story by clicking here.  I was on this path on Friday as part of my 9 mile ride, I had started just to the north of this spot by about a mile from the parking lot of Brandemere Park at US23 and Whitmore Lake Road.  I was headed in the opposite direction of the cyclist pictured and right after you come off this section you travel over Argo Dam which is pictured in the distance just beyond the RR bridge, where you see it crossing the river.  As soon as you come off the dam you enter the new renovated Argo Cascades where a quiet and murky spillway lined one side of a small isthmus.  Before the 1.17 million dollar project that created the cascading falls and series of drops the water was stagnated and mostly covered with algae.  As that section of the path was the only one not paved, it was pretty rustic and not much more of a rut in a very narrow strip of land that dropped sharply off into the scum filled water on one side or the tree tangled fast current river on the other side.  Falling down either bank was not what I wanted to do at all and I generally held my breath through that section and would be happy every time I made it through unscathed.  

There were a couple of sections where the rut was eroded and the sand got deep enough to make the hind end of the bike shimmy a bit and fishtail toward the water on either side.  That was always good for a little nerve racking jolt.  However from last fall onward with earth movers and bull dozers at work the top of that isthmus was flattened out, a nice 8 or 10 foot asphalt brand new path with cascading kayaking falls along side it is now open for riding.  The last time I was on this path was the day that a kayaker nearly drowned (you can read that blog post here)on the river side and it hadn't been paved yet so I was unsure what to expect on Friday.  Smooth new asphalt was what I was treated to, looks like it may have just opened a week or two before.  There is a video clip of the cascades available here and a still shot below.  The video and still were taken in the early spring as you can see by the outfits on the kayakers.  When I rode alongside the cascades on Friday I was treated to watching two kayakers a guy and a gal shoot through the drops just a few feet away from me.  It looked like a blast.  After the 4th drop I saw the girl kayaker get turned backwards and shoot through the drop backwards.  I'm still unsure if it was intentional or not but the guy behind her made it clear that he was going through backwards intentionally.  That was wickedly fun to watch.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ouch - Dial it Back

It's sad to know that a ride less than 10 miles is overdoing it but true it is.  Yesterday was a bit too ambitious and I'm feeling it today.

Health.  What a curious word that most people don't give a second thought to for days, months or even years on end, until something replaces it.  Suddenly, it becomes the center of the universe.

Humans are curious beings.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Little by Little

Making a slow comeback 1 mile, 1 mile, 2.2 miles, 4.2 miles, day off, 6.16 miles, 2 days of rest and 9.09 miles.

Little by little I'll get back into the swing of this but careful attention to how I'm feeling and listening to pain is the key.

I did the upper section of the Border to Border trail tonight from Brandemere Park to Gallup Park.  Hurting a bit tonight so I need to knock it back a notch or two. 

I see a series of 4-6 mile rides on the horizion to build the strength back up.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Well they're not where I'd like them to be but here they are;

March 59.5 miles and 7.25 hours of outdoor riding.  For March that's actually not bad considering we generally have snow cover still in most winters.  Considering what a spectacular March we had it is pitiful however March is a busy month with Board of Review and my evenings were all taken up with this for half the month.

April 53.39 miles and 7.70 hours.  I was slower, the weather was dismally rainy and toward the end of the month when the weather improved I was out of commission and laid up. 

Mid winter while I was in the off season training mode this is not what I would have predicted for this spring.  However the adage goes...man proposes and God disposes. 

Staying busy with getting better, resting for my health and it's helping.  YAY!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the Injured List

The weather has finally turned in the last couple of weeks and I have not had the ability to get out anywhere near as much as I want to.  Sadly, I've had a flare up of my RA and my right leg just does not want to bend to go round and round.  Sad face over here.  I do have stats from March and April and will post them later, but for now suffice to say my mileage is pitiful but the desire is very strong.  It's sad to want to go and have the longing coupled with perfect riding weather and have to sit on the sidelines.  Sigh.

With virtually no winter season to speak of I was able to get outdoor riding in during all the months of last year and the early months of this year, even if mid winter it was only one or two outdoor rides.  I kept it up with the indoor trainer and was very excited about the 2012 season getting off to a good start and raring to go.  Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and not fight the things we can do nothing about. 

Right now I'm focusing on getting extra medical attention and remedies, good nutrition and getting enough sleep and rest.  Combined, those factors will have me on the mend, sooner rather than later or so I hope.

For now, I'll take what little rides I can get in.  There's always shopping!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My First Bike

Or more aptly titled my first bike ride and my first bike.  While on a bike outing with a group of bike writers last night one of the writers challenged anyone riding to do a short story with the writing prompt being "My First Bike."  So this post will be a brief story or longish blog post and here goes...

This is about my first two wheeled adventure more so than my first bike which was a tricycle and I was too young to remember much about that.  I recall the first spin on a two wheeler for real, I had made several attempts with my big brother and big sisters helping me out and trying without success.  My next door friend Nellie was a year or two older and she knew I was trying and offered her bike and her help one sunny summer afternoon.  The bike was a little big for me and she helped me up onto it and steadied the wobbling bike with me on it but I'm not sure how because it sure felt wobbly to me. 

Nellie ran alongside me holding onto one of the grips on the handlebar and the back of the seat I pedaled valiantly along, pretty soon Nellie was holding onto the seat only as I got up a little steam and the wobbles lessened.  By now I was grinning and picking up more speed and just delighted with myself.  A bit faster and now I was proud as punch and chatting along with Nellie who had been left behind and out of breath. 

By the time I noticed that she was no longer by my side, helping to hold me and here I was all by myself, I snuck a quick peek back and saw her all bent over holding her side from the sure side ache we all got as kids from running to fast too hard.  I was almost a block ahead of her and promptly realizing that no one was holding on, I tipped over.  That coupled with the quick look over my shoulder was enough to bring the wobbles back and down I went. 

But the main thing was that "I did it!"  I was a bike rider at last, one of the "big guys" who rode a two wheeler.  I recall a couple of summers of scabbed up knees when I got my very own two wheeler but the skinned knees were nothing in comparison of the freedom that bike riding brought.  I was no longer bound by where my little legs could take me walking.  I had the heady freedom of wind in my hair and breeze on my face as I cruised along on my bright and shiny blue Schwinn.  The birds of the air or the little creatures that scampered along had nothing on me. I was as free as they were to go as I pleased.  The seat had a big S on it and there was a chain guard that matched the bike, I had streamers on the hand grips for coolness sake and a big shiny basket for my moms sake.  I was now the runner of errands to the store for a loaf of bread or gallon of milk or whatever would fit in my basket. 

Now as an adult who has fallen in love all over again with a two wheeler, I can put aside the cares of the world when I hop on my bike for a cruise and sometimes I feel like that little girl, that summer with the breeze on my face and watching the birds of the air and the little creatures and the feeling of freedom and the joy of all outdoors warms me up and comforts my soul.  It's heaven on earth and a chance to steal away from the cares of the day for just a little bit.  It refreshes, renews and rejuvenates.

I love my bike.

What's your story?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mixed up Seasons!

Our beautiful spring gave way to a return to wintery conditions.  We have been lucky in Michigna to have escaped the big snow storm that hit the eastern and middle atlantic states, yikes Pennsylvania got over a foot of snow.  We got the big winds on the back side of that storm and it blew strong and steady for days on end with very chilly temps.

Today the wind finally quit blowing and it's gorgeous out there.  Plans tonight are for a nice back roads ride with a few fellow riders.  Can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Biking Candidate

What a great combination bicycling and campagning.  I get to enjoy my favorite outdoor activity while making door to door contact with voters and citizens.  From the feedback I'm getting there are a couple of things that put a smile to my face.  One is that I have very good support within the community and the second very interesting things is how many people seem to think that campaigning by bike is a very cool and novel idea.  I love it!

Yesterday I had a young couple remark that they would vote for me based on the fact that I was biking my way around the township.  Now I'm pretty certain that this was at least half in jest but it's an indication that people are warmed up to the idea that their public officials are quite approachable and everyday folk just like them.  Of course we are!  Besides these folks I have had a lot of very positive comments about campaigning by bike.

I had a friend kindly photo shop a picture of my bike, now I just gotta find one of these signs for my wheel in real life.  Way cool!

I've just gotta get one of these signs for real

Monday, April 2, 2012

Long Catch Up Post Fobiles and Frights

Dear Readers,  sorry for the lack of news.  Much has transpired and I'll try to catch up here, and I'll try to keep some order;

Campaign for election
Bike Riding of course
Frights, Calimity and near disasters

Campaign news, I had a new photo shoot done for my 2012 Campaign material and here are my two choices from the sitting;


Weather - What an unsual and amazing spring we have had!  It is every bit as strange as our extremely mild winter.  We had not only mild early spring days but downright hot days.  Temps soaring into the upper 70's and 80's F in early March?  Never in all my days! And all things green have sprouted and leafed out.  Spring flowers that normally spend a few weeks opening and peeking out to make their shy appearence have sprouted, flowered and are near done.  With the advanced weather and season we are having all things are flowering and coloring all at once.  Usually we have the vibrant yellow forysthia in March followed by the beautiful white buds on the Bradford Pear in April and the array of colorful Azalea's in May.  With our accelerated spring this year all of the above are blooming at the same time and mother nature is showing off all of her beauty at once.  It's a sight for sore eyes with splendor everywhere you look.

Every time I get behind the wheel of my car or the handlebars of my bike, I feel like I am an accident waiting to happen because I am oggling everything in sight and my head spins like a top, where to look first?  Best bet is to stop and take a long look to drink it all in and do a bit of reveling in the glory of a spring that is bursting at the seams!

Work - whew!  Of course luck would have it that my busiest time of year which is the March Board of Review which is an appeals session for property tax assessment had me working day and night during some of the best of the weather.  I still managed to get in some riding and some riding in downright hot temps, the rides were few and far between but lucky girl that I am some of that long scheduling came during rain and some of the off days in between sessions came with sunny days.  All tolled, there were about 10 days where I simply looked out the window and longed for the ability to get out and ride.  However, when I did have the chance it made it all the sweeter! 

Bike Riding - well despite the volume of work I managed a tad bit over 70 miles in the month of March and it would have been upwards of 100 or more without the board of review.  I can't complain at all for riding this early in the season is iffy at best.  Today I had a 14.37 mile ride in Dexter and it's been the longest of the season.  I managed three trips to Kensington for a loop around the lake, a trip to the Lakeland's trail, several around my neighborhood and a harrowing trip to the Border to Border tail in Ann Arbor. 

The B2B trail saw a newley renovated section that contained a small and narrow isthmus of land just below the Argo Dam that connected to a park along the Huron River that leads to the U of M medical center and onward to Gallup Park.  The newly renovated section along the Huron River previously had rapid running water on one side and a quiet backwater spillway that ran along the other side.  The Huron side would often have rapid water especially in the early spring.  The isthmus was a tiny and narrow strip of land that was peaked and had a small little dirt rut for a path.  It was the only section of the trail that was not paved.  It would often get heavy use as the running teams from the U of M would use it along with bicyclists and people out for a stroll as well.  Passage was done carefully as the banks on both sides dropped off steeply into the waters on each side.  In places the rutted path was deep with sand and more than once I fishtailed through it and could almost see myself sliding down into the rapid river one one side or the languid backwaters that looked awful mucky on the other side.   After the renovation a cascade series of spillways was constructed on the quite side that will make for a kayakers delight.  The renovation was about 1.7 million dollars and it included flattening out the peaked isthmus and adding a paved trail over the previous rut that existed.  There are some photos below that just don't do justice because the green plantings are not completed yet and the water has not been diverted back into the cascade so it looks like puddle/pools of water instead of a cascading series of small waterfalls. 

Frights, Calamity and Near Disasters

Well it so happens that the day that I wandered the B2B trail this spring was a gorgeous day and one of the warmest we had so far.  It was a Sunday and a bit late in the afternoon but people were out in droves enjoying the unusual early warm weather.  I pedaled along the new hard pack gravel ithmus as the paving is scheduled for spring and who knew it would be this nice in Feb/March.  There were several people out and I spied up ahead a grouping of bikes lying on their sides and foks milling about the bank and wondered what was going on until I got close enough to hear someone crying out for help.  It was the most chilling scene I had ever come upon.  There was a man in the water that I couldn't even see who was yelling "help me, I'm going under and can't hang on anymore."  There were two individuals in the rushing water up against a fallen limb up to their chest in water.  The person who was seeking help was just beyond their reach in deeper water.  He was stuck in the underwater branches of the tree and being swept downstream in the rushing water.  Since he was tangled if he lost his grip on the limb he would be swept underwater with no chance to keep his head out.  This was frightening to the nth magnitude.  I was near certain that I was about to witness someone drowning.  The urge to rush into the water was strong but there were already two strong men with a log trying to unlodge him and help him out and with the rushing water I did not believe I could offer more assistance or be of any help.  It was awful and I felt helpless and afraid for him. Someone was on the phone with 911 when I arrived and within 3-4 minutes the Fire Department and Police and Medical Rescue were on the scene.  The two helpers had managed to get the man disloged and onto a log but he was still trapped out in the river with no way to get to shore.  His kayak had capsized and a fellow kayaker and a Good Samaritan passerby were helping him. The fire men arranged a ladder for a bridge and he crawled to safety.  Although the weather was mild and sunny the water was frigid and the man was shivvering with chattering teeth when they wheeled him out.  There is a link to a news story here with some of the same photos as below.

The fellow in the white shirt with his little girl was the Good Samaritan passerby who had been chest deep in the water and helped to free the fallen man.  The Kayaker was lucky this fellow happened by.
On another disaster note the town of Dexter which is our neighbor to the south and west was struck by an EF-3 tornado during our wild and wacky warm early weather.  There was a great deal of devestation, over 120 homes were damaged or destroyed and literally 100's if not 1000's of trees were uprooted.  Today friends and I took a ride through portions of the town to a metropark and were able to witness the damage that occured two weeks ago.  It's one thing to read about it and see it on the news and another thing altogether to see it first hand.  The road leading into that town from Pinckney was a several mile long tree canopied beautiful country drive.  Trees no more.  I could not believe how many were uprooted and blown down.  Hundreds and hundreds of them.  It was nothing short of miraculous that no one was killed or injured.  The landscape in that town has forever changed and so many families are devestated with loss and change.  We pedaled along down that road of devastation with sad and heavy hearts.  It will be a long time before those folks get over this calamity. We had a long ride today and stopped in a pub on our return to downtown Dexter.  Spirits were very high among those effected and it was heartwarming to see and hear.  The news has been full of stories of neighboring communities coming to their aide.  We sent a fire chief, deputy chief, several firefighters and rescue personnel and two rigs to the community for the duration of the event.  Our building offical was on hand for several days to help out as well.  Hundreds of people came to their aide, neighbor helping neighbor.

What an incredible spring.