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!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exploring The Southern Reaches Of The Huron River

My longest ride yet this year, just a tad over 25 miles was spent exploring a trio of Metroparks that are near to the end of the Huron River.  Another eight to ten miles and I'd have been at Lake Erie.  My ride started at the northern entrance to Lower Huron Metropark, headed south onto a 3 1/2 mile connector path to Willow Metropark and lastly into Oakwoods Metropark.   Typical of other Metroparks in the Huron-Clinton Metropark system it was filled with amenities for the outdoor enthusiast or families out to enjoy the great outdoors.  Plenty of places to picnic, shelters, comfort stations with running water, playground equipment, golf courses and trails, both paved for bikes, pedestrians, skaters and soft trails for foot traffic only that offer a bit more quiet and solitude.  Both Lower Huron and Willow Metroparks had nice water parks for kids to enjoy.   A link to the metropark website with maps and loads of information can be found here.

At a fishing pier at the trailhead

I crossed no less than a half dozen bridges, quite possibly many more , I didn't count them, the river winds even more than the path.  The trails crossed the river or ran alongside of it and if you didn't see it, you knew it was very close by.  Many places to wet a line or launch a canoe or kayak and several fishing docks and platforms.  If you don't have a watercraft there were ponds with boat rentals and paddle-boats if you prefer to pedal on the water.

Each park was unique from the others with things offered and the nature of the terrain.  The Lower Huron Metropark is more densely wooded with more climbs that are steep but mostly short.  It's similar to Kensington but doesn't circle a lake, Kensington has longer climbs and one monster hill, these were short and steep with none standing out as a biggie.  Willow Metropark had more rolling hills and the climbs softened and the trail opened up more to meadows.  There was a unique train crossing that forced you through a wooden gate system where you had no choice but to walk your bike through it.  This was right at the entrance to the Village of New Boston and while I was passing through a crew was paining it.  On the other side was a small cemetery with only three marked graves that I could see.  It was tiny and right alongside the path. It was called Nowland and the sign had an Indian head on it.  The sign was just far enough away that I couldn't read it and if the painters hadn't been right there I might have snuck under the split rail fence to read it.    I could make out that it had a historical registry number on it but that's all.

Village of New Boston

Kowland Cemetery 

There was a large pond and trailhead parking pretty much in the middle of Willow.  The path came to a fork at the pond and you could take the high or low road, I chose the high road on the trip out and the low road on the trip back, on the trip back it ran right alongside the river and was very scenic and pretty.  Parts of the trail in this park, particularly where it turned into a connector to Oakwoods  and ran right alongside of the I-275 trail.  I've been toying with riding that trail because I recall it being built when I was much younger and it was the first bike trail I ever knew of.  However it does run right alongside a very busy interstate highway and I'm not sure I'd like all the noise from the traffic.  It was very noticeable while riding on the section that paralleled it.  Although the sights and scents are very much like the parks at home, one thing that really stood out about sounds was that Lower Huron and Willow are not far from Detroit Metro Airport and I'm no longer used to seeing planes that are low in the sky, large and so loud that you can hear them.  Out where I live, it's so far from a major airport that jumbo jets are mere silver slivers in the sky and soundless.  The only planes we have are either pontoon seaplanes on the lakes or tiny aircraft that land on small grass landing strips.
Washago Pond

Oakwoods Metropark is a misnomer, it is here that the landscape really flattens out and you ride in the midst of marshland and lowlands.  There is an occasional stand of trees but mostly you are out in the open with no escape from the sun. I did notice that the occasional tree or grouping of trees were hardwoods and saw the tell-tale green nuts on the ground, indicating hickory trees present.  The biggest claim to fame for this park is the Nature Center and an equestrian staging area.  The region is where these lowlands become the delta that typifies a major river emptying into a larger body of water, in this case it would be the Huron into Lake Erie.  Today was about 10 degrees F hotter than it's been in several days and since this open part of my ride was at the furthest point out  and near the turnaround, I was beginning to feel a bit cooked.  Fortunately it was a short 3 1/2 mile segment.   I was looking forward to the Nature Center on the grounds at the end of the park.  It was not air conditioned in there but it was in a wooded section and did have vending machines with cold drinks so I could refill my water bottle and get a Gatorade. I freshened up in the restrooms and I pulled the same trick I did on the Falling Waters trail and that was that the bottom 1/4 of my water bottle had become too hot to drink but it still felt cool when I dumped it over my head.  Wet hair was nice and cool on the ride back.
The open marshland of the delta before Lake Erie
No escaping the sun

A foot trail adjacent to the nature center 

Huron River overlook

The Watershed

Nature Center

My hybrid cruiser/mountain bike is great on the gravel roads, bike paths and occasional roads that I ride on and serves me well for the 8-15 mile rides that I normally do along with being my errand bike.  If 20-30 mile rides are in my future, a new bike is too.  It just takes too long to ride those distances with my current bike.  If I keep up longer rides I may have to look for a touring bike or a modified road bike with flat bars and relaxed geometry.  True road bikes are not in my future, I rode them as a teenager but with joint issues and both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis I need a more upright riding positing and a relaxed versus aggressive geometry bike.  For the time being that idea will have to be on hold.

Monument at the Trailhead of Lower Huron Metropark


  1. The very first picture, with wood fencing and pond. Which park is that ?

    1. Paige, that photo was taken at the southern end of the Lower Huron MetroPark, it's just east of Waltz Road. There is a place where the path crosses railroad tracks right in the little town of New Boston. Right after the RR tracks there is a slight downhill curving around the riverbend with that split rail fence. Shortly after that the trail takes a turn toward I275 and runs along side it before it turns and goes into Willow Metropark which is the middle park in the trio.