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, October 31, 2013

Revisiting Recent Trails and Reminiscing

On Sunday I paid a return visit to the connector trail from Dexter to Hudson Mills.  This time the launch point was in downtown Dexter, I was certain that the trail would be open.  NOT.  The barrier was still up however there had evidently been lots of frustrated folks and the snow fencing material that was attached to the barricade had been partially removed and allowed for easier passage over the obstacle.  I admit, I ignored it and passed through.  Lucky for me I had two good Samaritans who lifted my bike over and all I had to do was climb through the middle of it.  Luckier yet was that two more additional good Samaritans were on hand when I returned to help out again.  Lucky me!

The trail was packed with hikers, walkers, strollers and strollers with kids in them, bikes and people out walking their dogs.  We had sunshine and mild temps for this late in the year and I even ran into two friends on the trail going in the opposite direction.  It was a great ride but devoid of the herd of whitetail deer that had loped alongside the trail on my last visit.  More amenities were in place including some fencing where the trail runs alongside of the Hudson Mills Golf course.  It was the lack of fencing that had me assuming that is why the trail hadn't been officially opened yet.  I'm guessing that the officials at the Metropark golf course don't want people trespassing on the course or golfers wandering onto the path, perhaps when it's completed the trail will open.  Rumors among the trail users was that it would be open in less than a week.  I guess we'll see.  I found a link to a news update announcing that it should be open November 1st, here. 

It's also noteworthy to mention that in addition to being a pedestrian or bicycle path, Dexter has incorporated two canoe/kayak launch facilities along the trail as the trail also serves as a water trail on the Huron River and wayfinding signage notes this for waterway travelers.  The landings are located above and below the naturally restored rocky rapids, and travelers can stop and find food and supplies in downtown on their canoe/kayak trips.   A link to the Huron River Watershed Council's website about the water trail can be found here.

Today I took a trip back to the Lakeland's Trail and started off further west than where I normally hop on the trial.  My intention was to explore a portion of the trail that I hadn't been on before.  My starting off point was just east of the trailhead at the Pinckney Depot.  I parked in the Bushs Food Market parking lot and behind the building was an easy access to the trail that I had noted on an earlier trip past this landmark.

Westward bound the trail is paved up to the second crossing of M-36 about a mile and a half west of downtown Pinckney.  This was about 1.75 miles into my trip today and the trail becomes compacted fine gravel.  It reminded me of what I used to put down in my parakeet's cage after cleaning it.  It was fairly easy going and the gravel was thick enough for a good surface but not too thick to feel loosey-goosey.  It was similar to a hard packed dirt road, just a tad bit crunchier sounding.  I can appreciate the desire to keep the trail more natural in this area because the trail crosses through equestrian country with several bridle paths that wind through heavily wooded areas and a staging area that lies just to the south of the trail.   In addition to the horseshoe prints on the path there was "other" ample evidence of recent visits by persons on horseback.  This segment of the trail passes through Pinckney, goes through the town of Gregory and culminates in Stockbridge Michigan.  I rode out a bit over five miles today and that took me to the Unidilla Township line and I went a tad bit beyond that.  I'm guessing I was just short of half way to Stockbridge.  I'd mapped it out and it was about 12 miles from Pinckney to Stockbridge.  There were several places I wanted to snap photos but my phone was busied with using the Map My Ride application.  I logged the trail outbound and then inbound.  I wasn't sure that my battery would take it both ways and didn't want to loose the information, so if it failed on the way back I could just duplicate the outbound ride for distance, time and elevation.

I have to say there was significant reminiscing along the way.  First off was the pass right by the old Pinckney Depot which reminded me of the initial groundbreaking ceremony for this trail back in the early 1990's.  At that time I had my restaurant in downtown Pinckney and was active and involved in our local chamber and several of us were invited to this event, it was initially created as the very first linear State Park in Michigan.

 The rail road had ceased operations in the late 1960's and by the 1980's the rail bed had been abandoned and the rails taken up.  When the rails were pulled, whomever owned it at the time didn't want motorized traffic so there were piles of dirt every few yards.  In the late 1980's at times I road a snowmobile from my home on Strawberry Lake in Hamburg Township to friends home just east of Gregory.  It was like riding over thousands of camel backs.  Being in my 20's it was not big deal except that it kept you from flying down the trail at high speeds.  It sure has been smoothed out since then.  It's flatter than a pancake with elevation gains of about 100 feet in 10 miles which isn't much at all.  From the mapping I'd done the section in Unidilla Township from Gregory to Stockbridge has more elevations and is a tad bit hillier.  Here's a screenshot of my route.

When I got a mile or two west of Pinckney I cam across an area on the south side of the trail that was fenced.  What made it remarkable was that the fence was at least 15 feet tall, maybe more and had barbed wire.  This cordoned off area extended for quite a bit and it's perimeter was irregular in places, dipping far south of the trail and then back alongside of it again.  I saw some old faded signage and it is called the Edwin S. George Biological Research Area and was owned by the University of Michigan.  I know that U of M owns property along Stinchfield Woods to the south of Pinckney and has an observatory atop of Peach Mountain in that area and I've also seen other areas of land that they own along the Strawberry-Portage chain of lakes.  Their holdings are vast throughout Michigan.  When I finished my ride and loaded up my bike I returned to some of the dirt roads I'd crossed and explored around the perimeter of this preserve, it's huge!  At least a mile square if not more.

When I got home I researched a bit online and found a link here to more information about it. Another link with photos can be found here.  It's over 1500 acres which is about 3 sections of land, with a section being 640 acres and a mile square.  From the website it says that the area is "one of the most renowned biological research areas in the world."  Who would have known?  Right here in Pinckney.

Just west of Pinckney Honey Creek meanders back and forth across the path and there were nearly half a dozen bridges in a three mile section.

While I would have liked to make it to Stockbridge, given the time of day and now that the days are getting shorter I wanted to be off the trail by 5-5:30 ish.  It get's pretty remote west of Pinckney and has some heavily wooded areas with homes few and very far between.  I realized right off that I didn't have my pepper spray in my bag and it was quite possible that I could come across a coyote out there.  I'd rather make the trip to Stockbridge with a friend or two.  I was surprised not to see much wildlife out there today, I did hear a rooster crowing but no coyote in sight which was just fine by me.  My round trip today was a bit under 11 miles and the round trip going to Stockbridge would have been over 24 miles.  I was getting a bit tired and the trail got a bit soft at the Unidilla Township line.  You could feel the difference immediately and from reports of others I know who've made the trip it gets more and more rugged the closer you get to Stockbridge.  I'll save that for another day.

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