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!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Birthday Ride & Milestones

Last Sunday I had a birthday ride with some of my favorite people.  My niece Mary and her daughter Alex and my Godson Andrew.  It was the beginning of a week of recovery rides after my intense riding of the preceding two weeks.  For starters we had perfect weather, neither too hot nor too cold and nothing but sunshine and blue skies.  We rode one of my favorite trails, the border to border tail in Ann Arbor from Brandemere Park to Gallup Park.  Along the way there is a fun passage over Argo dam, it's a very narrow bridge with high railings and about an inch of clearance for your handlebars on each side.

Then we spent a fair amount of time exploring at the Argo Cascades watching  kayakers shoot the series of nine drops, the kids were enthralled as I knew they would be and I promised a return trip with tubes on a nice hot summer day.  This is a short 20 second video clip from YouTube of a canoeist at the Cascades.  Crossing the bridge you can see the cascades in the background.

And some photos of our time spent there.

 This poor guy on the right was trying to get some peaceful reading in so we shooed the kids away to play on a different drop.

Just prior to the Cascades there is a bike jump course right off the path and of course we had to stop and check it out.  Alex, brave young gal that she is, got right into the swing of things and tried out the mini moguls first then it was on to the bigger ones when we stopped there again on our way back. I knew it was on her mind to try the bigger ones because she kept asking if we were going to pass this place on the way back. Even Andrew got in on the action on the second stop.  


Our short 10 mile trip lasted nearly 3 hours because of course when you are out exploring with kids everything must be examined and there is not a piece of playground equipment that we passed by that didn't require a stop for a swing, climb, jump or play.  We laughed our heads off when the 11 year olds even wanted to stop at the little kiddie playground but we also indulged them because we knew it won't be long before they will scorn such juvenile stuff like playing on swings and being out with adults and moments and memories like these are to be savored and stored away for cold winter days

Of course the "older" kids, Mary and I, enjoyed it as much as they did and we had an obligatory stop for Popsicles and a prance through a butterfly and hummingbird garden.

When we got home the kids continued to play and the adults shared an ice cold brew!

All in all it was the best way to spend a birthday day and it was capped off with a dinner with the rest of the family.   Thank you Mary, Alex and Andrew for sharing this day with me!

Drum roll please...and now for the milestone...my little blog has reached over 10,000 views as of yesterday!  Imagine that!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Training, Stats & Post Training

I've hit it hard in May and especially in the last two weeks, stepping up mileage indicated in the chart below;

Date         Day                       Mileage   Time Minutes Daily / Hours Weekly
4/29/13 Mon 8          59
5/1/13 Wed 6.1 47
5/2/13 Thu 17.74 150
5/3/13 Fri 0 0
5/4/13 Sat 7.76 66
5/5/13 Sun 0 0
Total                                  39.6           5.37 hours

5/6/13 Mon 13.03 98
5/7/13 Tue 0.0 0
5/8/13 Wed 9.86 74
5/9/13 Thu 17.32 120
5/10/13 Fri 0 0
5/11/13 Sat 0 0
5/12/13 Sun 0 0
Total                                 40.2           4.87 hours

5/13/13 Mon 12.74 87
5/14/13 Tue 15.1 107
5/15/13 Wed 0 0
5/16/13 Thu 0 0
5/17/13 Fri 12.22
5/18/13 Sat 19.07 135
5/19/13 Sun 0 0
Total                                59.13          5.48 hours

5/20/13 Mon 22.72 171
5/21/13 Tue 0 0
5/22/13 Wed 0 0
5/23/13 Thu 0 0
5/24/13 Fri 13.15 98
5/25/13 Sat 19.11 147
5/26/13 Sun 10.18 83
Total                                65.16          8.32 hours

A training program is supposed to increase mileage, time and intensity by smaller increments, generally 10-15% is a rule of thumb and as you can see the chart indicates much higher jumps in all areas.  Had I not had a base to work from this would be a recipe for disaster.  Having ridden consistently for the last two and a half years has provided that base. But I also listened to my body, pushed myself for sure but coupled it with rest, days off and fairly decent nutrition.  While I seldom if ever diet in the traditional sense I do try to make more healthy choices when training and my habit is to prepare fresh whole foods and processed foods are scant (but not non-existent) in my daily menu.   Home cooked meals generally consist of a lean protein, starch and two side vegetables.  I do indulge in pizza, ice cream and such, but sporadically and if I'm training this hard I don't feel the least bit guilty for occasional treats.  The current week I am in is being titled "Recovery Week" by me and my mileage and time out on the bike is shaping up like this so far;

Date         Day                       Mileage   Time Minutes Daily / Hours Weekly
5/27/13 Mon 0 0
5/28/13 Tue 4.78 36
5/29/13 Wed                  6.9 53
5/30/13 Thu 6.73 49
5/31/13 Fri
6/1/13 Sat
6/2/13 Sun
Total                                 18.31         2.30   

These shorter rides lack much of the intensity and I'm doing them on quite flat grades with no real hill work except for the natural inclines around town, most are pretty small.  I'm taking easy pedals at moderate speeds.  We are heading into a very hot week so far with temps in the 85-90 F range and stormy weather so my rides are in the later evening or early morning like today.  I come home without any feeling of fatigue and generally feeling like I could have gone twice as far or more, but this is how I am pacing myself.  I do expect to have one ride at least of 15-20 miles this week and if I'm guessing correctly I will be feeling pretty strong during and after that ride.  The pattern I've notices is that if I push really hard, back off for a bit I really build up my strength and endurance.  I've varied the rides with gravel roads with hills which are tough and high intensity and with flat paved rail trails so in some sense I am doing interval training, or at least my version of it!  Whatever you call this, it is working magic on my health, endurance and fitness level.  Following this somewhat haphazard program has resulted in a high level of feeling fit and my body composition is changing.

I've tracked my mileage since I started riding again in July of 2010 when I bought a bike, my excel sheets contain many notes, places I ride and how my body feels.  Sooooo, I'm kind of a nut for data, tracking and stats, what can I say?

Miles of smiles to all!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Polly Ann Trail - Lake Orion to Oxford Lake

On Saturday I explored yet another new trail the Polly Ann Trail in north eastern Oakland County.  This felt like a real adventure and getting lost is a requisite part of any exploring venture.  Getting there was a hike and took about an hour and a half drive.  My first stop was at a County Park Dog Park which was near the south western end of the trail.  When I found out there was a $5 parking fee I moved across the street to an Elementary school with a large vacant lot and parked free.  I couldn't help but notice two different signs posted in the County Park referencing the Massasauga Rattlers and being aware of them in the vicinity.  That got my attention!  I spent the day on the trail avoiding sticks and twigs lest they be snakes in disguise and I'm not normally afraid of snakes, but these sounded particularly nasty.

Finding the trail proved to be a bigger problem than I had anticipated, I thought that a trail that connected so many communities would be well marked.  Once on the trail the signage was great, particularly as I headed north east.  There were signs indicating mileage and at cross roads there were directional signage for restrooms, phones, food and snacks which is all helpful information to know if you are from out of town and unfamiliar with the community.  I found the trail and in a half mile was greeted with a welcome sign

and the trail turned from paved to a crushed aggregate material.  It was packed down pretty good, a bit softer and squishier than pavement, of course, but perfectly navigable for me and my bike.  The biggest thing I noticed right off was that it was not quiet as my tires made crunching noises compared to the silence of pavement.  That was not a problem but what was a problem was the second two way choice.  At the first dead end there was a little small sign that indicated turning to the right for the Polly Ann Trail and that was cool.  About another half mile up the path produced a choice to the left or right.  I choose right and it was wrong.  If there had been a sign, I missed it. I found myself on suburban sidewalks in a lakeside community, I kept it up for a bit over a mile and couldn't find a sign of the trail anywhere.  I saw another bicyclists coming toward me and asked about the trail.  Lucky me,  he was going that way and said "follow me."  It was a good thing or I'd never have found it.   I'd turned the map my ride app on my phone and while it's busy recording my route I can't access the GPS mapping functions on the phone without cancelling the ride.  The rider was a faster rider than I am but he stopped along the way for me to catch up a turning points.  We traveled along the lake and two different golf courses across the street from one another and then, voila!  The trail appeared again!  We chatted for a moment, he indicated that my hybrid mountain/cruiser bike would be fine for the trail conditions at least up till Boardman Road and he also said that from his home the ride was 30 miles round trip.  I  stopped to snap some photos and he took off on his ride.    From reading up about the trail, north of Boardman Road the trail becomes rougher and suitable for hiking, horses and rough mountain biking.

The trail passed through open fields, wetlands, lowlands, marshes, lakes, neighborhoods and wooded sections.  I passed many lakes and streams and at times water flowed alongside, in fact the trail was seldom without water in some form or another alongside it, hence the caution about rattlers.  The trail passed through many small communities, villages and burgs.  There didn't seem to be a stretch over 5 miles that you couldn't get something to eat or drink.  About 8 miles in I stopped at a curious thing I'd never seen on a trail before, a stepped platform next to some benches.  At first I thought it was a podium left over from some grand opening or dedication ceremony.

It was a moment before I realized what this was, I was on a trail that is open to equestrian users also and this was a mounting platform and the other strange wood structures were hitching posts.  Duh.  I only came across other bicyclists or walkers and in one place a county worker mowing.  The grass was cut in a 3-4 foot swath on each side of the trail which made it nice and easier to spot a snake if there was one!  I can say for certain that I did not venture off the trail like I normally would have.

One of the last features I came upon before turning and heading back was a gravel pit and lake across the street from it.  Even without the signage of the sand and gravel business I would have recognized it by the typical blue-green color of the water.  When the topsoil, marl layer is stripped away and the gravel is mined out what get's left behind is the layer of clay which many companies use for making cement, with a clay bottom and no marl the lake reflects back the blue-green color and the waters are typically very clear because there is no sediment to cloud it or get stirred up from rains.  The gravel pit was over a mile and a half long with the plant operations at the north eastern end.  The colors don't come through as good in these photos but the water was beautiful.

I'm not sure what these concrete blocks were or why they were left
except that they were probably too heavy to move without a good
reason. They were in one area only and there were about a dozen
of them.
 Right across the street from here was Oxford Lake and another small community where you could get food and drink.  Just north of here I made my turnabout and headed back.  I might have gone further but I had a late start to my day and getting lost killed time for me.  So, I'll have to return to explore the whole trail another day!

On my next trip I'd leave off the first 3-4 miles and start further up the trail and not deal with the broken up pieces in the south western section, just get on the trail proper and head out to the end of the navigable portions.  I noticed that signage leading to the trail was better further up too.  For information about the trail visit this link  and for a link to my route at map my ride click here.  One thing of importance to note for cyclists is that Oakland County is serious about walk and bike ability for their roadways.  Every major roadway I was on in the area had adjacent paved paths or sidewalks, which is is not typical in semi-rural or large sub-urban areas.  There were vast distances between neighborhoods with miles of paved trails.  Kudos to Oakland County!   

Happy Trails!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Edward Hines Drive Trail - Part III

So Friday I finished up the last 1/3 of the trail which, for me, was the easternmost end of the trail.  I began my ride very near to the beginning of the trail at Warrendale and traveled in a northwest direction to Nankin Mills/Nankin Lake where I had left off on my last ride.  I did not take photos of this section, though it was scenic I just never took the time to stop.  Sorry readers.  Perhaps next time.  This section passes through portions of Detroit, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Redford, Westland and Livonia.  A portion of the trail in Redford traverses alongside a golf course, Hawthorn Valley, where I'd done a lot of golfing when I was younger and lived in the area.  I'd forgotten how beautiful that course is.

During early settlement times the River Rouge served as a navigation route for Indian tribes and the French and English trappers.  Later it was part of the Underground Railway for escaped slaves.  Today it serves as a recreational gem for Wayne County.  During my ride I came across a grouping of Segways.  I didn't know what they were called but they are the two wheeled upright electronic riding devices, a group of senior citizens were out on a practice run.  I passed them slowly and gave them wide berth, I was amazed at their handling abilities and the person in the lead handed me a brochure as I passed.  He was their leader/instructor and apparently there is a Segway and Bicycle rental at Nankin Mills.  I'd seen a little red wooden building behind the interpretative center and assumed it was an ice cream or novelty shop.   From their brochure, I found out differently.  What a great way for seniors and others with some physical limitations to be able to get around and enjoy the park and trail.  A link to their site can be found here.

A link to Friday's route can be found here and information about this section of the trail and park can be found here.

When I do this ride again I intend to ride it from start to finish and back again in one fell swoop.  Round trip my ride totaled just over 13 miles which is beginning to seem like a warm up or shortish ride.

I passed historical and familiar landmarks like, Nankin Mills which currently houses an interpretative center, the big old toboggan hill and scenic stretches of the River Rouge.   I saw a sprinkling of wildlife, got hissed at by a mamma Canada goose and gobbled up miles of rolling terrain.  For the most part, this section was flatter with a sprinkling of rises and inclines.

This was my first ride since my longest on Monday, however, I haven't been snoozing or taking it  easy.  The last couple of days I have not been riding but I've busied myself with spring time chores.  Preparing the outdoor furniture, planting flowers and herbs and some general spring cleaning indoors.  Spring is a busy time for all of creation as we awaken from our deep winter's sleep.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Being An Advocate & Making Progress

Yesterday I attended an event sponsored in part by the League of Michigan Bicyclists.  It was an advocacy day in the State capitol with pre-arranged meetings with State legislators and informational exchanges.  The day begun with a bike ride from a pre-arranged meeting place and ride to the capitol, registration, meeting with other members of your delegation and information about meeting with the legislators and it was off to meetings with them, followed by announcements, awards a lunch and bike tour of the capitol.   I made it to everything except the bike rides, instead meeting up with the group under a tent on the lawn of the Capitol Building.  The day promised rain and true to it's prediction we had sprinkles on and off all morning and early afternoon. I would have really enjoyed the ride and the camaraderie that would have ensued from that, but there will be other times and places for that.   It wouldn't be the first time I've admitted that I'm a fair weather rider.

The real meat of the event was in the meetings with our State Representatives.  From my past history of having served as Township Supervisor I already knew both our current State Representative Gretchen Driskell and the State Senator representing my area Rebecca Warren.  Gretchen and I had served together on several  boards in Washtenaw County when I was Supervisor and she was Mayor of Saline.  As well, I had known Rebecca since she was a State Representative from Ann Arbor and her husband serves on the County Board of Commissioners and we have had opportunities to work together on common goals.  The agenda put forward by the LMB was to make legislators aware of issues high on the list or priorities for LMB and the other participating cycling advocacy groups.  Highlights of the priorities are;
  • Protecting vulnerable roadway users by establishing enhanced penalties for injuring or killing cyclists.
  • Establishing a standard for safe passing of bicyclists on Michigan roads.
  • Revising the right turn hand signal to make an extended right arm legal in Michigan.
  • Allowing bicyclists to bypass malfunctioning traffic lights.
  • Supporting a new Michigan trails and greenways license plate to fund local trail projects.
  • Preventing the Raid on Natural Resources Trust Fund Dollars Available for Trails Projects.
  • Adequately funding safe transportation infrastructure that supports multi-modal use.
It was great to be in a position of advocacy and particularly so since I felt a real connection to both legislators.  Senator Warren was instrumental in helping us to secure permitting for phase I of the non motorized path project which was my pet project while Supervisor.  She had been in attendance at our ribbon cutting for the path when it opened, so she was very aware of my passion for the subject matter and Representative Driskell had been in attendance of several transportation meetings where I reported on the progress of our path from it's inception to it's current state.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the opportunity for our collective voices to be heard.  A link to the LMB information about the Lucinda Means Bicycle Advocacy Day is here.

Driving home I reflected on my goals for riding in 2013 that I posted here, and realized that I am slowly making progress on this year's goals, almost without thinking.  When creating the list I wanted to take on an advocacy project and this day certainly qualified for that.  I also mulled over wanting to go further and faster and my rides and training are making progress toward those goals.  My mileage per ride is increasing as well as my speed.  My goal is to work toward a 40 mile ride and it's going to happen with a series of 20-25 and 30 mile rides.  Pushing harder gears allows me to gobble up those miles faster.  Pushing myself on hills is like interval training and that will make me stronger and when I am stronger I will be faster.  My last ride averaged 9 MPH over my longest distance yet this year of 23+ miles.  It's a great feeling to challenge yourself physically and mentally like this and the results are rewarding in many ways.  Success feeds on success and right about now I'm feeling pretty successful. 

Considering my frame of mind just a few short weeks ago I find myself very grateful indeed to our loving God who has helped to bring me to the place I currently am. 

Here are some photos of the day in Lansing!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dinosaur Bones Under Them Thar Waves!

I've been itching for a new adventure and get bored with doing the same routes.  The consequence is that I get further and further from home to find them.  I'd been reading about two rail trails west of home and looking for a good day with an open agenda for the afternoon as I knew the ride out in my vehicle would be over an hour each way and the bike ride would likely be 2-3 hours.  I chose the Falling Water Trail from Jackson, Michigan to Concord, Michigan.  Often rail-trails can be boring, this one was not.  For starters, it was the widest rail trail or any bike trail I've ever seen.  The signage is high quality, points of historical interest are noted with signs and the passing scenery is varied.  There are places where it's wide open with fields, pastures and farms and densely wooded sections with a nice canopy above.  There's a creek that runs alongside the path in certain sections and closer to Concord there is a mill pond that the creek flows through.  And the path traverses a narrow strip of land separating two lakes.

The paved rail bed divides two lakes called Lime Lake.  According to signage at a little picnic stop alongside Lime Lake, they were created when there was dredging done to extract marl used in making cement.  That marl was shipped as far as Detroit, Cement City, Petoskey and Union City. Rail road cars were loaded onto a scow and taken to a parked barge and a large contraption scooped the marl from the lake bottom, loaded it onto the boxcars and those were then hand winched onto the rail for shipping. Among some of the goop that was culled from the lake bottom, dinosaur bones were found!  I'd stopped lakeside for a couple of photos and to read the signs, looked out over the wind blown lake and mulled over giant dinosaurs roaming the area.  I'm glad that was a long time ago and the most wildlife I saw were about a dozen chipmunks, the quick glimpse of a red fox and the white tail of a whitetail deer as it disappeared into the woods.  I must have been gaping around at the sky and missed it crossing the trail.  As hot as it was today I expected to see nothing but birds, ducks and geese.  Wildlife can surprise you at times.  And boy was it a hot one!  Temps climbed up to 90 F.  It may have gotten hotter in Jackson because it's pretty central in the state and far away from the cooling winds off the Great Lakes.

While I might have had a fair amount of free time today, I sure picked the hottest day we've had yet.  We've slingshot-ted straight past spring and into the heat of summer!  But, storms are on the way and we will probably return to seasonal temps in the next couple of days.

I had plenty of hydration and in the little town of Concord I was able to get fresh bottled water and a Gatorade which was just exactly what I needed for the return trip back to the vehicle.  A rest stop to freshen up with a bit of a wash up and running lots of cool water on my arms and wrists made me a new woman.  It came just in the nick of time because I felt myself beginning to get overheated.  In addition to that I had a bit of water that was too warm to drink in my water bottle and since I had plenty of cool drinks to add to it I dumped the remainder over my head and it was enough to soak my hair and shirt collar.  That felt good!  A wet head and shirt top kept me cooled off for a good portion of the return trip.

Although the trail appeared flat as a pancake, when looking over the stats from the ride I found that there was over 280 feet of climbing.  Using the Map My Ride app for my phone, I turn it on when I set out and off when I return and my ride gets mapped online through the app complete with all kinds of stats.   Looking over the route I noticed that there was a significant rise in the latter 2/3's of the ride going outbound and of course that same rise showed up inbound.  I was wondering why I felt so suddenly challenged and attributed it to the heat, but now I know better.  It's funny how the eyes can be deceived like that, it must have been the contour over a large area so it didn't look noticeable. My legs knew it.

A link to the route can be found here  and there are a few photos from the trail below and you can read about the dinosaur comments on one of the signs.  On my next big venture I'll have to go out further to the Kal-Haven trail which takes you from Kalamazoo clear to Lake Michigan.

There's dinosaur bones under them thar waves!

Lime Lake

Trail Head at Concord, Michigan

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Training Does Pay Off

As a follow up to my last post this one continues with the theme and trend.  And I'm happy to report the trend is great!  My fitness is returning by leaps and bounds and the scale is moving in the right direction.  As much as I'd been bemoaning the loss of fitness and how I had lost so much hard gained ground, the tide has turned.  Quite simply, training works.  Take a sluggish body, lagging spirit and the feeling of general malaise and put all of that through the paces and magic happens. The body, the mind, the spirit and soul respond and rebound at an amazing pace.  The human body is nothing short of miraculous with its resilient capacity to transform. Short of adding new limbs or changing eye or hair color, you can pretty much remake your body in any fashion you want to if you're willing to put in the effort.  The beauty of all of this is that it's possible for anyone to do.

Getting started is the hard part.

Not quite half way through the month and the miles are piling up.  I'm well over a hundred miles for May, rides are getting longer in miles for less time spent on the bike.  Today was a hammerfest.  Having spent the last half dozen rides working hills I turned my attention today to doing a flat out fast (for me) ride.  I chose a local rail trail that was as flat as it gets around here and straight as an arrow.  Generally there is a slight rise as you go out and a slight downhill as you return.  The combo of flat and straight allowed for kicking up into harder gears and upping the MPH considerably.   I pushed far more miles into shorter time span.  It's a different way of training than the hill work I've been mostly working on and I have to believe that mixing it up like this is going to produce even better results.

I did a routine like this over a week ago and the combo and mix up proved to be a good increase in performance level.  Yay me!

Happy trails to all!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring - I Love You!

For all my moaning an groaning over the late start to Spring this year, I take it all back and glorify you!  I came home tonight drunk with headiness over the sights, scents and sounds of a marvelous spring bike ride.  Every street, every road had lilacs in bloom and their sweet aromas were heavy in the air, I drank so deeply of their pleasant scent that I thought my lungs might burst.  I couldn't wipe the grin from my face.  Flowering trees have eye popping color right now in a show of light to deep pinks, whites and lovely purples and the birds are so happy they sing till their heart's content.  Thank you God for the beautiful bike ride you gave me today!

As for my fitness I could not be more pleased.  Truthfully, from mid March - April till less than a week ago I was ready to throw in the towel.  I'd lost so much fitness after my surgery last fall that I was heartbroken over it.  I worked hard and pushed myself, hard.  Very hard.  I honestly had to force myself out on rides, it was so painful with all the huffing and puffing, weak and shaky muscles and lack of will and desire.  I beat myself up both physically and mentally and cursed the loss of fitness. I forced myself to make the pedals go round.  Then magic occurred.  Training, perseverance and pushing myself kicked in.  It all became "worth it."  All that work, all those hills I forced myself up, the miles I forced myself to cringe through, forcing myself to make the pedals go round when I wanted to give up or cry or both, it all paid off.  Sweetness!  Joy!  Happiness!

My last two rides, yesterday and today, I felt like I could have gone on forever.  I was sorry to see it get dark and make my ride end.  I pedaled and pedaled and cranked my way up hills and down hills, along flats and found a rhythm to rollers.  Cycling felt effortless, I found zen and oneness with the bike.  Bliss.

My ride tonight was  my longest mileage wise and also the shortest time for the miles put on.  About 2/3 of it was dirt roads which are more challenging and the final 1/3 of the way home was on smooth pavement and when I reached the pavement I felt like I flew, literally.  About 4 miles from home a road cyclist pulled along side and we struck up a chat.  He opened by asking if I'd just come from Ann Arbor and saying that he really had to "go some to catch me,"  it was sweet music to my ears and I had an ear splitting grin.  I have my name on my bike and he recognized me as being Supervisor, I had to tell him "former Supervisor" and he said he was sorry to hear that, lived in the township but was not aware of current events.  I can't say exactly how nice it was to have some sudden and unexpected company, especially so, since it was a stranger but after a couple of miles of chat between fellow bikers I didn't feel a sense of being with a stranger but more of a kindred spirit.  We parted ways and I felt richer for the experience and brief chat.

My biggest surprise was that this was near the end of a challenging ride but I kept up a brisk pace and was able to chat like I was sitting in a chair and not putting out effort.  That amazed me.

Spring, I love you!  And I've fallen in love with my bike all over again.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Edward Hines Park Trail Part II

So now I know why it's named Edward Hines Drive.  The area must have been held as a place of importance to have a bridge built over it as the 395th project by the Wayne County Road Commission, plus whom ever did the work did an outstanding job, the bridge was in great shape considering it's 80 years old.

Yesterday was another adventure exploring the middle section of of Hines Park Trail.  Today's ride started and the eastern end of the middle section and I rode west to the place where I had left off on the first trip.  Last time it was from Northville Downs to Wilcox Lake, yesterday's ride took me from Nankin Lake to Wilcox Lake for just over 13 miles round trip.  This section was a tad bit flatter, some rolling hills and a couple of good size climbs, but overall it was less daunting.  A map to the route can be found at this link.

Spring is popping out everywhere and Mother Nature's visual splendor is everyplace you look.  Pedaling along it's like one scene tries to outdo the one at the previous bend in the road.  I had a more than chance encounter with a family of Canada geese.  Mom, dad and little yellow puff balls were crossing the path up ahead.  I slowed down to let them pass well ahead of where I was and as I approached I steered clear of them and avoided eye contact.  This was one particularly fierce momma goose, as I passed I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and veered farther off the path away from them.  She was having none of me!  She took flight for a brief few seconds with a lot of flapping and honking, my heart pounded and blood raced through my veins.  I was sure I was a goner, but maybe it was for show, something turned her attention away.  Geeze, I never thought I looked that menacing.  Close encounter.  Not my first with waterfowl, I've been chased by geese and once by a trumpeter swan but those are tales for another time.  That all happened in the first 10 minutes of my ride and quickly the ride calmed down and was very uneventful after that, thank goodness!

 The Middle Rouge River is dotted with lakes as she meanders her way through southeastern Michigan dumping out into Lake Erie and Hines Park is home to many of those lakes.  In my short journey, parking my vehicle at one lake I passed another before I ended up at Wilcox Lake.  That being the largest of the lakes called Newburg Lake.  Like so many of those lakes along it's route there was a large dam constructed there and a power plant sat along it's shore.  The dam and plant was built, in part, by Henry Ford to power his village plant to build drills for use in his factories around the world as pictured in this dialogue board.  In addition to what's included in the photo here are two different links to historical information about the plant and about the refurbished comfort station at the lake.   The lake, once polluted

cleaned up in 1998 and new piers were installed for fishing and the lower level of the comfort station was outfitted for canoe and kayak rentals.  When I was younger and lived in the area I took my canoe and paddled and fished the lake, once catching a very large goldfish (about 10 inches) that I took home to my aquarium.  I kept him over the winter and let him go the next year.

This trio of photos is taken around the refurbished waterfront, I was not
the only photographer around, however this guy was far better equipped
than I was with my little travel camera. 

I enjoyed a little rest stop along the riverside alongside a portion strewn with some rapids and the sounds of the water spilling over rock was a pleasant backdrop for the emerging foliage and birdies tweeting. These last several days in a row now have been some of the most exquisite weather patterns we have had all year so far.  If you had the ability to order up beautiful days and gorgeous weather, you couldn't do a better job than what we've been having.

About mid ride I found a spur off the Hines Trail that is a connector to the I-275 Metro trail that traverses north and south along I-75 which would put it perpendicular to the Hines Trail.  the 275 Metro is a 44 mile long trail and one of the first built in Michigan.  It fell into disrepair and was so overgrown as to be un-navigable in some areas until a couple of years ago a project was undertaken to renovate and rejuvenate the trail and make it great trail again.  A link to a map and historical information about the trail can be found here

Lastly are a pair of photos from the starting and ending lakes on my ride today.  Who knew that recovery from heart surgery and getting healthier and fitter could be this much fun?  Even though I had tried to ride as much as I could before the heart valve surgery, a bit as weather permitted afterwards and even though I rode my trainer during the winter months, it was not with the intensity or level of fitness I had enjoyed earlier in the year and the previous year.  Pedaling my way back to health has been a bit daunting at times when I struggled through frustration over having lost fitness, but as I regain my strength I am delighted.  It's a blast when you can combine the love of exploring with the joy of pedaling.  Oh yeah, in the process, get healthy!

Having taken on this adventure I am obligated to finish up the final third and easternmost section of the trail.  I'll be sure to post a ride report when I do. 


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Edward Hines Park & Trail

Northville Downs Racetrack
Truly in the spirit of Spring it was time for more exploring.  I've been wanting to explore the Hines Park trail for some time now and yesterday seemed like a good day for it, beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I had mapped the trail out and noticed that the north western most end of the tail was right near Northville Downs.  They have a huge parking lot and even an overflow lot so it seemed like a good place to start from.  I arrived and couldn't believe my eyes that the overflow lot which generally sits empty was overflowing with cars, duh, it's the Kentucky Derby and I was looking to park at a racetrack!  I did find a place luckily, but once on the trail I found a park, playground, rest stop area with ample parking.  Oh well, now I know for next time.  As a youngster and young adult I lived near Hines Park and cruised Hines Drive thousands of times.  Mostly it was in the south eastern portions of the park and when out for Sunday drives we usually turned around just before the Northville section.   After I moved away a trail was added to the park, I'd seen it briefly from a car but was anxious to ride it.

Hines Drive takes you through Hines Park within multiple cities and townships, it meanders along the Rouge River, indeed it was created as an overflow flood basin for the Middle Rouge River and helps to protect neighborhoods and homes from spring floods. The basin is in a valley and is one of the most scenic drives in the urban areas of Wayne County.  The park is littered with ball diamonds, picnic areas, shelters, play sets, fishing spots, disc golf courses and the bike trail.  You can find more information about the park here.   

As a teen I fished many areas of the river and most of the lakes that the river passes through.

When I first set off,  I headed south from the intersection of Sheldon Rd. and 7 Mile Road, it was a mistake.  I missed the path and somehow ended up on a connector that is the Bennett Arboretum (link to information about the arb) it was built to connect and serve several neighborhoods right off of Sheldon between Six and Seven Mile roads.  The path from Six to Seven Mile is nearly straight uphill, so I started my ride with an immediate big climb.  I thought that the path would turn into the park and traverse the southern side of the drive but it kept climbing and climbing, all the while heading further and further from Hines Drive and trail.  It was tough to see because the trail twisted and turned.  It was an elegant portion of trail but carrying me in the wrong directions so about 3/4 of a mile into it, I oriented myself and turned around.  My trip back to my beginning was swift because it was all downhill.  The hilliness didn't end as I now headed eastward along Hines Park Trail.  After about another half mile I was treated to another very large climb.  Note to self, if you're looking to avoid big hills start the trail about 2-3 miles east of where I started. I have a link to a route mapped at Map My Ride here.  This weekend is Greek Orthodox Easter with lots of preparations and I didn't have all afternoon for a leisurely ride so I only explored the upper reaches of the trail.  I can't wait to get back and ride it's length.    I snapped a few photos below.  

This trio of photos comes from the Bennet Arboretum section of the trail

it was quite beautiful, with this Living Wall, boardwalks and stunning
climbs.  This connector passes by some subdivisions with large, beautiful 
estate size homes. 

The next series of photos comes from the remains of the old Meads Mill and it's foundation

There is an excellent pictorial and historical guide
to the  Rouge River Tour and the communities
that it meanders through, including Meads Mill.  It
has lots of very old photos of a bygone era and the link is here.
This is where I should have parked because it puts you right 
on the trail

Just off the trail for a rest along the river