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, August 31, 2013

The Face Of Women And Bicycle Advocacy - Barb Chamberlain

A year ago Barb Chamberlain was appointed Executive Director of a bicycle advocacy group called the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  Having a history of bicycle advocacy and public policy go hand in hand for this position.  In addition to this public office, Barb works to champion women and bicycling through one of her blogs Bike Style.  A link to that blog can be found here and it's also on the right hand column here on this page under Bicycling Links of Interest.  

Among some of the interesting and informational aspects of her blog she has a comprehensive listing of bicycling blogs written by women.  In addition to advocacy items on this blog you'll also find articles about commuting, how to's, style, health and reviews on popular items and topics of interest to women.  You can find her on Twitter and Facebook  also.

One of the many interesting posts you'll find there is one on bicycle helmets entitled Bike Helmets: Pro-Cute Anti-Ugly.  Cute and helmets don't usually go in the same sentence but here you will find cute helmets and very cute helmet covers which can automatically elevate your plain-Jane head protection into a fashion statement.

Women make up 50% of the population and it's nice to see them gaining seats of influence in all areas of things bike related.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bicycle Tourism In Detroit

As a companion piece to my last post this one details out tour operators in the city of Detroit.  Now that's not normally the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating new bike routes or places to ride but it's catching on as evidenced by the tour bookings at both of the places that operate tours.

The Wheelhouse in Detroit offers tours, bike rentals, sales, repairs and shop classes.  The are also distributors for Detroit Bikes mentioned in the previous post as well as other popular brands of bikes.  They are located right on the riverfront where the new River Walk is, close to Eastern Market and Belle Isle which are popular tours.  They offer different tours that are short or long, easy or tough and you can sign up for what suits your riding choices. Some tours are historical or art and architecture orientated with stops at historical sights,  public art and significant architectural sites.  There are recreational tourist type tours to Belle Isle and the Eastern Market which is like the most gigantic farmers market you will ever see and then some.  They have various neighborhood tours and even haunted tours in the fall season.   Since the tours are thematic and tours rather than rides there are frequent stops where the tour guide gives out facts and history of the sights you are visiting.  Tours can be booked on line and there is a calendar of the whole season of tours.  Custom and private tours are also available for a group.  A link to their site is here.

Motor City Bike and Brew Tours are very much just what they sound like.  Tours to famous old breweries, sites of former breweries and new micro breweries that are located right in downtown Detroit.  In addition to the brew tours they also do Historical Prohibition tours where you can see historical locations of bootleggers and rum runners along the Detroit River and other spots.  There are also Theater/Music tours that take you through the theater district both new and historical sites from the vaudeville era.  Most tours end at a brewery with a lunch and voucher for a couple of brews.  In addition to the bike tours they also do Bus and Walking brew tours in other parts of the state.   They have a limited number of bikes available for rental but it's mostly B.Y.O.B, in this case bring your own bike.  Private tours are also available in addition to their calendar date tours. A link to there site is here. A You Tube video from their website of a typical tour is included below.

A visit to one or both is going to be in order before this season is over!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Detroit - Bicycle Building Mecca?

All of a sudden my old hometown is getting a lot of press over bicycle building.  Not sure if this city that is trying to rise from the ashes is suddenly becoming synonymous with being hip or what but bicycle builders and manufactures are springing up like mushrooms after rain. I have to admit it does make me proud of our once great city to see this positive attention.  Or maybe I'm feeling a bit of hometown nostalgia after attending a winning Detroit Tigers game last night at their beautiful stadium at Comerica Park.

From last nights Tiger game, Andrew and me

Detroit has had it's share and then some of negative press, horrible image and infamous notoriety.  All of that was well deserved because the city has suffered a horrible slide for the last few decades. Corruption, crime, drugs, gangs, elected officials serving prison time for crimes against the city and its people have all been the instigators of the decline and the flight of the population.  Once the home of more than 1.8 million people its population has slipped to just over 750,000 people.  That's a loss of over a million persons. The last decade has been the most cruel yet for the city, having lost 25% of it's population in just those 10 years.   The city was taken over a few months ago by an Emergency Financial Manager who is now presiding over bankruptcy.  And that's the story of the decline, actually it's my story of the decline.  Volumes have been written about it but if you distill them down, this is what you get.  And this is the story of the beginnings of the rise...

The montage above of various shots from
around Detroit is from Wikipedia.  It includes our riverfront skyline,
the "Spirit of Detroit" sculpture, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada,
the Fox Theater and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

The manufacturers;

Detroit Bike, a link to their site is here, appears to specialize in an all purpose bicycle, with a single size three speed bicycle and following in the footsteps of Henry Ford the auto mogul, it offers only one color bike.  Of course Fords come in a rainbow of colors nowadays but when founded, the founder claimed you could get it in any color you wanted so long as it was black.  For now Detroit Bike offers one color.  The bikes are beautiful to look at in their simplicity and smooth lines, made from chromoly steel they are manufactured, assembled and packaged right in the city.  An all purpose bicycle goes against the grain of the current model of bikes for specific purpose.  You can buy BMX bikes, dirt bikes, racing bikes, time trail bikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, beach cruiser bikes, fat tire bikes for snow and mud, road bikes, cross bikes and many more that I have failed to mention.  One bike for all purposes?  Seems to be unorthodox by today's standards, but it is the kind of bike we all grew up on.

Autobike, a link to their site is here, assembles their bikes in Detroit and only sells online through their website, however you can test ride the bike by filling out an online form and you'll be notified of when and where you can test one out..  They have a unique bicycle that changes gears automatically according to your cadence.  As far as I know that's unheard of in bicycling. It sounds intriguing and I may just have to schedule a test ride.  There is an electronic transmission for gear shifting but no batteries, it's powered by a dynamo on the front wheel. Here again with this bicycle you have a manufacturer that caters to the non-enthusiast, the  people who want to ride for fun or use their bicycle for transportation. They have a great video at their site and you won't see a helmet or a single piece of Lycra anywhere while there.  Adults getting back into bicycling or who have never bicycled before and are intimated by the gears and knowledge that must be applied to ride a geared bike, might find this to be to their liking for simplicity's sake and simple ease of hopping on and going.  The bikes are lightweight aluminum and come in a variety of color combos.

Shinola, a link to their site is here, has garnered the lions share of press.  A Detroit company with nation wide distribution their name comes from another Detroit product from yesteryear, shoe polish.  That's right, it's the same name that made for a famous phrase as in "you don't know (blank) from Shinola!"  Today the company enjoys an upscale image creating not only bicycles but specializing in other precision items.  They make watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals.  Each appealing to the luxury market.  The bikes aren't cheap, but gosh they are beautiful!  The bicycles are handcrafted of chromoloy steel in Wisconsin and assembled, packaged and sold in Detroit.  The watches are manufactured in Detroit, the journals in Ann Arbor and the leather goods in Wisconsin.  The company is pursuing an aggressive multi city sales plan with outlets opening in major cities across the US.  The headbadges on the bikes are particularly outstanding in looks and design.  They have three models of bicycles one is a women's specific design, all are exceedingly lovely to look at.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Nod To Our Summer

In much of Michigan we have had an atypical summer.  Cool by most standards and a bit wet.  Color me HAPPY with a BIG GRIN.  We haven't had good beach weather and weekends have been hit or miss, we had one hot spell that lasted for about 10 days or so and enough rain to keep lake levels up and rivers running swift even in August.  We totally missed that long drought hot and dry spell that turns lawns into brown fields and has canoes scrapping bottom around the outside corners of rivers.  For a lot of working folks the pickings have been slim, because the good days have been hit and miss.  For a person who has had the pleasure of a leisure summer and has had the chance to bicycle at will, it couldn't be better.  We've had days on end of that weather that we live to die for.  Cool, low humidity days are usually a very tiny window in spring and fall, but we have had a plethora of them this summer and I couldn't be happier with our weather this summer.

Next five days sunny, mild, temps in the 70's with light winds and low humidity - ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

I better shush now before friends and family who like it hot and sunny come after me with tar and feathers...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lakes Community Trail

In an effort to ride all of the trails in the south east quadrant of Michigan I found a new-to-me trail that looked short but close to a longer trail in the Commerce Township area of Michigan.  Another area that is abounding with lakes in every direction, if new comers are wondering why roads twist and turn and you can hardly find a stretch that goes straight for more than a few miles it's because they have to wander through the myriad of lakes that make up all of south eastern Michigan.  It's more like living on a bog than land.   The trail was a disappointment because it was so short and I was not able to find a satisfactory route to connect me to the West Bloomfield Trail that was in the general vicinity.  The trail is older but well maintained, except for the signage.  I couldn't find a readable sign as they were all faded beyond readability.

I'm certain that the trail is great for local residents because it does link various parks that are filled with baseball diamonds.  It was really quite noticeable how many ball fields are located in such a small area. I was not aware that the area was so noted for little league players.  The trail also connects many different subdivisions to one another and though the area is quite congested with traffic, homes and businesses the trail winds through heavily wooded areas and when you're riding it, it gives the feel of being in the wilderness.  Scouting afterwards in my vehicle I found that I could have turned a different way on the tail and extended my ride by a few miles to Dodge Park, but I don't imagine returning to do that a different day.

In summation, the trail is great for locals but not worth the drive unless you live close enough to bike to it.