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!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Talking Bike Wear, Helmets And Perception

I read a comment the other day on Facebook that someone left on a bicycle manufacturers page.  Schwinn has a program to give out brand new helmets to youngsters in areas with low incomes.  They proudly proclaimed how many helmets were given out with photos of happy kids riding their bikes.  They linked an article from the Detroit Free Press and asked readers to respond to suggest where the next location should be to give out helmets     The poster didn't like them giving out helmets because "helmets are a gateway to spandex and looking gay and they don't protect you anyway."


That's quite a leap. Because you wear a helmet you will soon wear cycling clothes? The rest of the implication is that bike wear makes you look odd.  People wear helmets with dress cloths and with gym shorts and tees and with whatever else they might happen to be wearing.  People wear helmets to protect their noggin.  With kids it is a good idea because they tend to fall more than adults because they lack the handling skills until they ride more and become proficient.  Bike wear does open up a whole discussion.

There are cyclists who wouldn't think of getting on their bike without a helmet and those who won't wear one at all and others who go with and without at times depending on their mood.  When I began riding as an adult I would not wear a helmet at first, I mean, I've gotten along for over 5 decades without one, spent my early learning years with plenty of bumps and falls without the benefit of a helmet and I'm just fine.  No one wore them back in the day because they didn't exist and we all made it.  Then I had a series of tumbles while I was sharpening my adult skills up and a helmet became routine for me.  I do like the wind in my hair feeling and the freedom that going without brings but 95% of the time I wear a helmet.

You can find whole dialogues, debates and volumes written on the pros and cons of helmet wearing and this blog post isn't taking a position one way or the other.  In the U.S. helmet wearing is more the norm.  In Europe where people use bikes to commute and for daily errands, not so much.  Over here we wear special cloths to bike in, over there, again, not so much.  There's two schools of thought on this as well.  The American point of view is specialty for all things and all sports and having sport-specific wear, anything from helmets to sunglasses to upper and lower cladding of our bodies.  Another school of thought is that wearing helmets and bike specific clothes makes bike riding look intimidating or dangerous and hard to do, like you need special stuff to ride and that can discourage people from taking it up as adults.  There's a perception thing too.  Cyclists riding in full kits (bike shorts and bike jerseys) often find drivers to be less courteous or friendly.  Riding in street cloths, riders report that people are friendlier, wave and smile more.  Whether that's right or wrong, it seems to be the way things are.  Europeans for the most part use bicycling as transportation and aren't bothered with special outfits because it's just a part of normal everyday life of going to the store, running errands or getting to and from work.  Of course there are pro European cyclists who look and dress the part, but everyday people cycle in street clothes over there more than people do over here.

As for me and my bicycle wear, here again is an example of learning about the "why" of something and changing your mind about it.  I swore I wouldn't wear bicycle shorts when I first started riding.  I thought that people wore them to look cool or to look like they were really into the sport and wanted to look the part.  Wrong.  They are worn for comfort, not looks.  If you ride long distances and long hours it keeps you comfortable in the saddle, period.  On rides over an hour, your body thanks you.  In addition to the padding which prevents or minimizes chaffing, the Lycra compresses your muscles as they work hard on long rides.  Your legs actually feel less tired after a long ride when you wear them. They're not exactly attractive and there's really no other reason to wear them.  If I'm out for some serious time in the saddle on long rides I'll wear them and sometimes a jersey too, more for function than anything else.  If you see me bopping around town and running errands, I'm wearing whatever I happen to have on.

Here is a link to the Ride Schwinn Facebook posting about the subject of Helmets on Heads program

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lakelands Trail Expands Westward

I have a nearby trail that is expanding it's reach westward.  The Lakelands Trail, as it is known locally, is part of a greater network of trails that is expected to cross the state from west to east and traverse the state from Lake Michigan to Lake St. Clair.  There are large sections of this network already in place and the various connectors are getting paved and in place bit by bit.  The trail system follows an old rail road line so that it's fairly straight "as the crow flies" and also links numerous small towns to one another just as the train did years gone by.  A link to the trail can be found here, but the write up is older because more and more of the unpaved section is getting paved.   When completed this Air Line Trail will be 240 miles long and a link to information about it can be found here.

Yesterday I rode the portion from Hamburg Township to just west of Pinckney for  a round trip just under 20 miles.  I hadn't ridden the trial for quite some time and used to think of it as somewhat boring but wanting explore the newly paved section I was treated to a pleasant surprise, the trail was much lovelier than I had remembered it with a dense canopy tunnel of trees through most of the trail.  Maybe the woods have grown a bit denser or maybe it's the result of all the rain we've had this year but it was lush, cool and very beautiful. Maybe I just have a soft spot for the trail because it's the first non motorized bike trail that I ever road.  A photo from my first ride with my old bike is featured below.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Heat Wave Is Off A Bit

The mercury in the thermometer is coming down a bit and I've been out venturing for rides again mostly from home.  As much as in the early part of the season I was anxious to conquer new far flung trails is as much as I am enjoying the rides right out my door right now.  What thrills me now is to just hop on and go poking about the neighborhood.  It's been a while since I've ridden like this and I'm finding it to be pleasant summer fun.

Another bit of fun has been more time spent on the Huron River instead of riding alongside it.  The tube trip was so much fun I got to hankering for more river running.  Andrew and I took a canoe ride from Argo to Gallup Park.  It felt good to get in a canoe again.  I have a canoe but not a suitable vehicle for transporting it any more so it sits at the lakeside home of one of my nieces.  For this trip we rented one and it all came back like it was yesterday.  In my youth and younger days I spent literally years of my life in  my canoe, it's been in every major river in Michigan, many of the Upper Penninsula rivers, all of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario and countless lakes, streams, ponds and other bodies of water.  Nearly all of that time was spent wetting a line as well as a paddle and the inside of that canoe has had countless fish flopping around it's belly.
There's something very special about the way a watercraft that you paddle slips silently along the water moving from place to place, powered by a human only.

Come to think of it, it's much like riding a bike, silent pedal power.

Sometime it's fun to be a brass band and make a commotion, there's also a lot to be said for moving through life quietly from time to time and place to place.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Argo/Gallup River Briefing

Scorching Heat Wave!

We're in the midst of our first heat wave of the summer with several days of temps in the 90's.  It hasn't hit 100 F yet but the heat index has surpassed that.  I took my bike in for a shifting problem after my ride last week with a pair of friends.  On Thursday we went to the Edward Hines Park trail for a nice outing.  The ride was great but not without issues.  A bit over six and a half miles into it my friend Debs husband had a flat, we were unable to get the wheel off the bike to repair the tube so Deb and I double-timed it back to the cars and drove back to pick up Tim.  I had problems of my own with gears slipping and mystery shifting.

 There are some climbs to contend with on the trail, this particular section did not have too many, mostly rolling hills but there were a handful of sudden sharp spikes to run up.  I lost my footing on one and banged up the back of my leg a tad bit and on another one I had my bike suddenly shift the front chain-rings into the hardest gear midway up.  It was too short of a spike to do anything but mash and grind the pedals, that one burned the legs!  It also took out a lot of my oomph since we were traveling at higher speeds back than our ride out was.  It was still a great outing and a BBQ at Debs later was a cap off to a great day.

I wasn't too disappointing to have to take my bike in because I'd ridden for six days straight and the beginnings of the heat wave were just getting started.  Turns out my bike needed new shifter cables  Now six days later I am longing for a bike ride.  I got my bike back late on Monday but the searing heat has not abated yet.  No matter, I'm going out for a ride today even if I need to take it slow and easy.

Yesterday was a great day for a cool and refreshing tube ride down the Cascades at Argo, which is a man-man series of drops in a stretch of the Huron River in downtown Ann Arbor.  I went with my niece Mary-Ann and her son Andrew who is my Godson and outdoor companion for adventures.  Since we were tubing and there was no place dry for a camera I've included a video clip from YouTube put out by the City of Ann Arbor.  The tubes we used were larger and more of the sitting in variety than those pictured.  It was a cool way to spend the afternoon with just enough thrill to make it extra fun.


Blogger is giving me fits and I'm not able to embed the video into this post but I see that in revisiting the You Tube site I've found a way to bring it onto this blog in the post above.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Numbers Tell The Story

I really believe my slump and lack of interest stemmed from over training.  I didn't think so at first but a lay off from riding for nearly a week and a steady but low mileage comeback has improved two things 1) my riding and 2) my mood and desire.    In the first week of June I posted monthly stats from May.  Below are the stats from June.  They indicate a decline in mileage from the previous month, but I was away for several days on a short get-away and we had a bout of rainy weather.  From about the middle of May till the end of June is when the bulk of the over training went on and it didn't show up until I hit a wall.  Click here for a link to May totals.

When I read back over my notes in my biking log I see that early on in the season I pushed myself  and the results were improved performance, the problem was that keeping up that pace and intensity for nearly two months was not a good thing.  Live and learn I guess, by now you'd think I'd know better. What I can say for sure is that in the last two days I'm feeling great on rides, happy to be out on my bike and not dog tired or feeling like I'm pushing myself.  It feels good.

Last Friday I had nice new set of tires put on my bike, the originals had a little over 1,600 miles on them and I was flatting the front tire twice in a short time.  At the end of last years riding season I thought that I might be needing them and the shop where I bought the bike said they were still okay.  When I took it in for a minor adjustment over the weekend they agreed, the tires had seen better days.

June Stats
      Miles              Time                    
6/3/13 Mon 22.73 171
6/4/13 Tue 10.29 77
6/5/13 Wed 0 0
6/6/13 Thu 0 0
6/7/13 Fri 8.29 122
6/8/13 Sat 1.32 8
6/9/13 Sun 10.55 76
Total 53.18 6.67
6/10/13 Mon 0 0
6/11/13 Tue 11.27 82
6/12/13 Wed 0 0
6/13/13 Thu 0 0
6/14/13 Fri 0 0
6/15/13 Sat 0 0
6/16/13 Sun 0 0
Total 11.27 1.37
6/17/13 Mon 10.58 117
6/18/13 Tue 8.95 71
6/19/13 Wed 3.72 32
6/20/13 Thu 25.59 180
6/21/13 Fri 0 0
6/22/13 Sat 0 0
6/23/13 Sun 0 0
Total 48.84 6.67
6/24/13 Mon 9.59 79
6/25/13 Tue 0 0
6/26/13 Wed 16.25 121
6/27/13 Thu 12.78 93
6/28/13 Fri 5.65 54
6/29/13 Sat 2.18 18
6/30/13 Sun 8.08 62
Total 54.53 7.12

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tour de Livingston Kickoff Ride At Balloon Fest

Great morning for a ride, temps were on the cooler side and humidity was low but performance on this little ride was lacking.  I continue to have bouts of shortness of breath with exertion.  Last October I had heart surgery on two valves.  One was bad and was replaced with one of my good ones and in that ones place a donor valve was placed.  Complaints of shortness of breath and an increasingly louder mummer for the previous 18 months had indicated that the valve was going to need to be replaced at some point, it was a surprise that it came sooner rather than later.  I'd had lung testing and just about every other pulmonary test imaginable and all results were fine with no indication of pulmonary or breathing problems, except that I run short of breath with exertion.  The doctors, and I, had assumed that the valve replacement would do the trick.  So far, it hasn't.

I'd assumed that it was a lack of conditioning after having spent the fall and winter recovering and I hit it pretty good this spring with ever increasing longer and harder rides and workouts that haven't produced the intended results.  At this point I am in a deep quandary over the cause and will have to make a round of Dr. visits to try to unravel this.

Andrew and me
My little Godson and nephew Andrew did great on the ride, we set out from the courthouse to the High School to watch the balloons fly-in.  For me trouble began when we left and split off between the short ride and the longer tour.  I fell behind on an incline, caught up eventually and promptly lost the group again only to find them later.  During my first fall back Andrew came looking for me and afterwards I encouraged him to stay with the pack and not wander off which he did and that was a good thing because I did eventually join up again with the group.  We spent some time riding all together and I later lost the group, only to take a couple of mis-turns that put me ahead of the rest of the tour and back at our destination a few minutes before they arrived back.

                                                                      My friend Jim Gilligan

In the week now since our Sunday June 30th ride I've been out and about running bike errands in town and took a couple of short 5-6 mile rides round the neighborhood, shortness of breath still comes and goes like is has the last little while.