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!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's The Journey, Not The Destination Ithica

I created a Facebook page for this blog today and my friend Jim Purrington made a great suggestion.  He suggested that I add the poem The Road To Ithica to this blog.  Those who bicycle for the pure joy of it all talk about how it is that the journey  is what propels us and the destination is merely a product or afterthought.   So today I share with you readers the poem written by Constantine Cavafy.

The Road To Ithica 

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.
Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.
Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

Thank you Jim Purrington, what a great suggestion and a good reminder for those who pedal for pleasure.

The link for those who have Facebook access can be found here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dexter Revisited

The quaint little village of Dexter, Michigan embarked on a journey to transform the riverfront from a body of water that flowed through the village into a fablous outdoor riverwalk.  In the process the riverfront which was mostly viewed through a car window when you drove over the bridge, or from the sidewalk view of a pedestrian or bicycle over that bridge or from the river itself by an occasional kayaker or canoeist, has now been opened with public access for everyone.  The ambitious project has yielded a gathering place and a central focal point for outdoor enjoyment, with paved walkways, boardwalks, places to sit and take a rest, all along a new redeveloped waterfront.    I wrote a post in September of 2011 that you can find here and it had a few photos of the "project in the works."  Friday I took another ride around downtown and explored the length of the new riverwalk including a portion of the new path that will lead from downtown to Hudson Mills Metro Park.  That park has two bike trails in it, one that is a loop around the inner portion of the park and another out-and-back trail that follows the river from the other side of the park.  This is going to be great for people who visit the park and want to ride into town, do a little exploring, shopping or catch a bite to eat and also for townsfolk to bike ride to the park without having to rely on getting there on the heavily traveled roads.

The riverwalk was well thought out and links various features in the community.  From it you can access the library, farmers market, downtown and it also links a couple of subdivisions with downtown.

If ever there was an example of excellent city planning, look no further.

Photos below

Looking north out of town toward Hudson Mills, the building on the
right is the Library, the boardwalk goes under a railroad bridge and 
will eventually take you to Hudson Mills Park, construction has begun
and it's expected to be complete by late summer.  There used to be a rocky 
shoreline but now you can see where there is tiered access right to the river 
for flyfishermen.   Kayakers or canoeists  have a landing if they want to stop
and get supplies in town.  The farmers market is located up on street level
between the Library and the main road, you can pedal up the hill or there
is a set of stairs taking you up to street level.

Looking south up the "rapids" and toward the long winding portion
 of the riverwalk 

 If you continue on the path under the rail road bridge, along the board walk you come to where the connector will join the path toward Hudson Mills, if you continue to your right along the existing portion of the path it will take you to a large subdivision which now will have cycling access to downtown.
Here are several views of the winding riverwalk.  My first impression?
It's a joy to ride on!  The photos are taken from up on street level and the
park and boardwalk is about 30 feet down a gradual incline. 

I rode around town and explored a bit then hitched up and headed to Hudson Mills and took a ride on both of the trails there, it was a beautiful day with little to no wind and finally loads of sunshine and warm temps.  I've struggled with a few handfuls of spring training rides and today was the payoff, I finally felt strong on the bike.  My cadence was higher, it was easier to push harder gears and there is a quite steep short hill from the  river level up to street level, I was able to sprint up it like a billy goat.  The stronger performance made me feel a hundred times better after this ride than any I've been on so far this spring.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Try Harder Spring

Spring is trying hard to establish herself, but it isn't easy! Rode in a tee shirt yesterday with low 70 F temps and it snowed all afternoon today.  The ground's too warm so it didn't stick but it's playing havoc with my spring training.  Sigh.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Bikes

A new bike is the coolest thing!

My friend, named Deb also, just got a new bike and I accompanied her on the maiden voyage.  We took a ride out to a nearby park, cruising through the gravel back-roads.  For this time of year the roads were unexpectedly dry and in places freshly graded and not in others.  If you're not familiar with riding gravel roads, fresh grading is not desirable.  While it cuts down on the pot holes and washboard effect, it's a bumpier ride on the newly turned chunky gravel.  On even the worst washboard roads you can usually pick out a path of hard pack down the middle of the road and since they are low traffic roads, it's easy to ride right down the middle of the road. A hard packed dirt or gravel road can be nearly as smooth as pavement, for a bike anyway.

Deb Anderson's new bike
Today's ride took us out to Independence Lake.  The park is run by the County and they have planned a $4 million dollar renovation with the addition of a new water spray park.  There was an older small one at the end of the park, located lake side.  This one is located closer to the entrance, it's bigger and will offer more play stations for kids, shaded and covered pavilions for picnicking  plenty of lounging chairs for moms and dads, a changing area and food concessions. Workers were putting on the finishing touches while we were there and since a gate was open I got a chance to get inside and take a few photos. That is, before I got shooed away by the workers.

 Some might argue that the park is already under-utilized and that an investment of $4 million dollars is a lot for a park tucked out of the way, however a recently added disc golf course has increased participation at the park and undoubtedly the new attraction will boost attendance as well, once word gets out about it.  While there are many lakes throughout the area, most are private or can only be accessed through a public boat launch, so if you don't own lakefront property or a boat you have no way to enjoy the waterfront, swim or cool off in the summer heat.   Independence lake is a hidden gem, that has a paved bike trail and several wooded hiking trails that are for foot traffic only, allowing multiple uses and enjoyment.  Cyclists can enjoy a loop around the park while riding through wetlands over boardwalks, wooded areas and lakeside views.  Hikers can amble unencumbered by bicycle traffic while birding or just enjoying the quiet surroundings.  There is a look-out tower for bird watchers deep within the park.  There is an abundance of fowl as evidenced by my friend who had a turkey vulture nearly swoop down on her while on the path yesterday. As we rounded a corner on the boardwalk we startled a pair and one just wouldn't let up on my friend and for a moment I thought it was going to land on her.

All in all it was a great day to be out for a ride, one of a small handful of really nice days so far. It was a good chance to enjoy the outdoors with little wind, mild temps, abundant sunshine and we made the most of it.  Sunshine and Bonny Blue skies warmed us inside and out!

Lucky for me I went back to the bench before leaving for the ride home, good thing because otherwise my phone would have been left behind.  If you look close you can spot it on the bench. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Training

Well the up and down weather continues. We've had 80 F this week and in the same 24 hours we had below 40 F.  Yes, it's been one of those kind of springs.  Earlier I rode in shorts and tee shirt, today I went with a friend to pick up her new bike pictured here  and had to wear long silk undies, my neoprene ear covering, fleece jacket and full finger gloves!

We took a brief ride in the neighborhood behind the LBS and the winds stung my cheeks and my eyes watered so much is was hard to see.  It was fierce!  But when we turned out of the wind the sun made it tolerable.

Earlier this week I had a couple of new exploring rides.  I went out the the Border to Border trail but took a loop I've never been on that really isn't part of the trail but keeps you in touch with it and there are various points you can hop back on it.  The link to that route is here.  It took me on the other side of the Argo Loop.  That side is on the eastern side of the river along a high ridge, the climb up to that ridge was steep and sharp but once up it it was mostly flat at the top with great look outs over the river at this time of year with no leaves on the trees.  I did stop and take a photo of this tree cause I was giggling at the fact it seemed to be looking back at me when I rode by.  I called it the voodoo tree and it was on the ascent up the ridge.  Once the ascent was completed the route takes you along the east side of the river to the Argo Dam.  The following day it was warmer yet with lots of sunshine and I took another new route in Webster Township to Dexter Michigan via Gregory Rd. I came across this Llama Farm at the corner of Zeeb and Gregory Roads.  The trip was all rollers with some significant climbs.  The trip out was fully into a 25 mph strong and steady wind and nearly wore me out.  I was packing an energy bar and it powered me up enough for the return trip, minus the wind helped.  These curious little critters love to come right up to the fence to check you out.  The link to the route can be found here

Friday, April 19, 2013

30 Days Of Biking Pledge

Beginning April 1st over 3,000 people around the world have taken a pledge to ride every day for 30 days.  I did too, I took the pledge to put  in writing this commitment.  Bicycling is a love and passion and doing so should not be something that I need to commit to in order to ensure that I get out and do it.  However on some days the additional motivation serves up a big boost.  Bundling up and prepping for a ride in the cold early spring is not the same as hopping on your bike in tee shirt and shorts in the summer.

I started this post in the first few days of the month and unusual busyness has kept me from completing it and posting.  Spring is here even if it is only in fits and starts and regular posting is back in order.  Thanks to the readers who continue to peruse the blog.  More reading coming up!