This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

A good day to be on the bike.

 Improvements just keep popping up.  After resurfacing Duke Street this past week, the city surprised me

with new bike lanes.  On this residential street they saw fit to follow the popular protocol and striped narrower traffic lanes and marking the leftover space for bike lanes.
It was a surprise to me and leads all the way from Kilgore Rd to Whites Rd which is scheduled for a diet next year.  The local bike network is growing.
     After the fleeting celebration in my brain, I took a ride across town to the KRVT enjoying a perfect bike riding day.  The temps were in the 70's, sunny, with a mild breeze and I was barely working up a sweat when I came upon a tourist having trouble with a flat.  I had a spare Flat Attack tube which I gladly donated to get him on schedule.  
     After the flat incident I led him through the downtown maze to the bike shop where he could buy a couple extra tubes and patches.  Sofian is a Swiss student who just completed his BA in German and History at the Swiss university in Lousanne.  I rode along with him and had a great time talking.  His English is much better than my French, so we stuck to English (not that I gave him a choice).   His plans are to travel to Chicago, take Amtrak to Seattle and travel down the coast, through Mexico and Central America to Columbia before heading home to continue with his MA  to pursue an academic career.  I'm just glad I was able to help on the trip.  If I knelt to the Strava god, my score would have sucked, but it was a great day to be on a bike.

Monday, August 14, 2023


      I rode downtown to check out our latest bike lanes.  Since the highway through town has been given back to the city by the state, some changes are occurring.  The first is the calming of traffic on Michigan Ave in preparation to transform it from a multi-lane one way to a two way street.  While the two way street conversion is still in the future, the city began by removing a lane and narrowing the existing.  They did the right thing with the left over asphalt,

and striped it to be a cycle track for the length of the street.  It's going to be a great addition to the community and probably the busiest cycle infrastructure in town. I even spotted some very stylish new bike racks along the route which leads past restaurants brew pubs, the mall and shops.  They moved parking spaces from the curb and placed them on the traffic side of the lane (good move).  Now there are several signaled intersections where a bike signal will be needed in the signal sequence.  We really need the cyclists out of the way before cars take the territory.
     Apparently we ran out of real estate.  On the eastern few blocks of the street, the cycle track narrows to a single lane.  Hmm, not sure how that's going to fit in the grand scheme of things, but I'm not bitching.  It's a huge improvement and I met several smiling people on cycles on my first trip through.  
     Of course this brought out the bike haters in conversations and social media.  It's important when talking to those narrow minded buffoons, that they are told the change was made to reduce traffic speed, volume, crashes, injury and death.  After making the traffic lane changes, the engineers are left with extra asphalt which they judiciously turned over to the bicyclists to keep them out of everybody's way, and that the city did not spend a bunch of money to patronize cyclists.   The changes are intended entirely to improve the safety of motorists,  bikers are just an afterthought.  You can't expect them to understand, but at least tell them.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Impending trail renovation

     Half the nearby Kal-Haven trail will be closed for the rest of the year.   The West half of the trail has deteriorated into a neglected two track in the woods.  So it's a good thing the DNR is going to resurface it.


     It's not without it's controversy.  The covered bridge over the Black River in South Haven is also to be torn down and replaced in the process.  Some locals have placed sentimental value to the structure.  It's run down and needs replacing and the protests are a bit strange.  They act as if it's an historical landmark.  From what I understand, it's only about 50 years old, it's not even part of the original railroad.  I get the impression it was built to be cute, but not very well and looks to me like it should be replaced with an upgrade.  

What the hell do I know?  I guess people will argue about it all summer while the work is going on.  What I do know is that I like riding that part to South Haven a couple times a year just to get out and hang around the lake.  I had to do it this week or not at all, so I did.  Wednesday I took off and the weather was great although a bit hot in the nineties.   I stopped at nearly every water pump to refill and pour cold water over my head.  After stopping for lunch at Bloomingdale,  I was rescued by a stray thundershower.  The noise and lightning were south so I didn't worry much.   I was about 10 miles from SH when it went by and absolutely drenched me with relief .  It was truly rejuvenating, the storm was going East, I was going West, everything worked out just fine.

     I reached the Idler in South Haven in mid afternoon to cool off in customary fashion after a 50 mile ride.  South Haven was busy, even after the holiday weekend there were people every where searching the boutiques and enjoying the different restaurants in town.  I had reserved a site at the Van Buren State Park south of town for a couple of nights.
     It's not my favorite place to camp, with hundreds of RV 's and kids racing around the way they do, but the new showers are nice and I didn't worry about leaving my stuff there while I pedaled around the shoreline on Thursday.
Thursday was downright cool in contrast to Wednesday.  The sky was hazy, not from Canadian smoke but just cloudy and humid.  The breezes from the lake were cool and strong enough that a few people actually tried to surf the waves with little success. 
There weren't many people out on the beaches, but a day at the beach is not to be ignored when you have the chance and there were some fool hardy groups in the water despite warnings of waves, wind and rip currents.  
     The ride home was nearly perfect with temps in the '70's and NNW wind quartering behind.  It took little time to make the 50 miles back home and I ran across my friend, Rick Whaley, doing the same thing.  He wanted to ride that part of the trail once this year before it closed also.  There were a number of groups heading out to SH, I assume for the same reason.  In all it was a excellent 4 days of riding about 130 miles give or take a few.  

Friday, June 23, 2023

This past trip showed the way

     My recent trip to Chicago  about navigation that are worth throwing out.  On the ride up to Muskegon, I knew the way into Holland.  Reaching Holland I found my way to US Bike Route 35 which follows the coast all the way to Mackinaw City.  I'm sure Adventure Cycling has shared those established routes with Google.  They didn't stop there but installed signage to denote the routes.  The signage is sparse where it can be, but in the labyrinth of trails necessary to stay on track in Grand Haven, it was excellent.

There were signs at each intersection and turn in the bike paths,  It was a real luxury to stay in the saddle and not have to refer to the phone every other block. Each turn and intersection was clearly marked and saved a lot of problems, time and unnecessary miles.

     In Kenosha the connection between the trail leading into town, and the one leading to Illinois through the middle of town, became an absolute mystery of disconnected and unlisted bike lanes, residential streets and business areas which were very dangerous at times. Google did not have those improvements updated and there was no signage on the ground  Google Maps is an incredible asset while touring by bicycle but is only as good as the information it's given.
     This is the way Google Maps shows the bike infrastructure in the Kalamazoo area I call home.  It's good, and helpful to a certain extent, but it is incomplete. Having spent a few years working with KATS (Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study) on a 30 year Non-Motorized plan we know that much more exists and additions are made in the area each year..
     Above is the map my friend Paul Sotherland created of our current cycling infrastructure.  Most of this has not been discovered by or provided to Google.  It will be when KATS has verified all the data.  That will be a tremendous improvement for new or visiting cyclists to find their way from A to B or through the metro area on two wheels.  Since Google is the most popular map system on the web it only makes sense that updates be provided to them on a regular basis as improvements are completed.  Rattle some cages in your home town to get some better information on the ground.