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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sometimes you have too much fun.

I was going to the Monday night club ride yesterday but the strangest thing happened.    It all seemed to start last Sunday when we had a beautiful day for the club's annual anniversary ride.  
A whole bunch of us aging spandex hamsters showed up to ride bikes around and ruin our jerseys from the inside out with pizza.  I finished the day by completing a metric century on the way home.  The next couple of days I rode in all kinds of wet weather before dragging myself
kicking and screaming to a corporate "wellness fair."  It really wasn't really as boring as I thought it was.  A bunch of other "healthy" type businesses sent paid employees to peddle their gel packs, artisanal coffee infused candy, and bank accounts (five financial services companies at a Health Fair, go figure).
In the meantime, I was the only volunteer.  The rest 
were not privileged to have an attitude.
I  covered that.
      On Friday I went out to the Yankee Springs forest to spend the weekend riding in the Fall Fondo Saturday.  It's a rehash of the immensely popular Barry Roubaix  Gravel Grind which draws racing fanatics from all over in the nasty weather of early spring. The race has become so popular there are permanent road signs set up in the forest.  It's a good thing because getting lost in Barry County Michigan can feel like a frightening career.
        250 people got together for a more casual ramble through the woods.   Gale force winds forced me to buy a cool looking wool jersey to get through the day.  I'm glad I got it and am checking out the Portland Cyclewear website as I write.  Oh boy! More bike stuff to buy.
There were several vintage bikers around and we had a convivial time talking about old gear and the smugness we gain from riding steel right past all the broken plastic imitations on the roadside.
      After sleeping like the dead Saturday night,  I explored a couple of hours in the Yankee Springs trail system.  The Hunq handled the single tracks just fine despite what I thought was a screwed up derailer.  I realized later that it was merely a loose screw in the shift lever causing me to shift erratically and fret.  I was just looking at the wrong end of the cable.  So it did make for a lot of bike stuff and mileage over strange territory.  By the time I got away from work Monday and was thinking about the  club ride, a Martini made more sense.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The old cliche'

               Time flys, passes or just plain gets away sometimes.  Whether you are having fun or not, life goes on with or without you.  Here in the midst of 'Murica, we have been working hard at our local officials.  In Kalamazoo we managed to push our city council into passing an ordinance requiring 5, not 3, feet of passing clearance from automobiles.  Right on the heels of the city's action, the State legislature finally pushed a package of 5 bike-beneficial laws out of committee and through the State Senate.

                  The most significant of those are a state wide 5 foot passing requirement and the inclusion of 3 hours of bicycle/motorcycle safety training in driver's education and licensing.   Michigan will be the first state to require a 5 foot passing standard.  We are moving up the societal ladder from a misanthropic subculture living off the grid, to a misanthropic subculture stickin' to the man.
That's right bitch 
"the all powerful bike lobby" has spoken!
We're "begriming" the crap out of you!
                  In the wake of all the hub bub, I got on TV for a sound bite about it.  That resulted in a very nice and unassuming college student contacting me for a brief interview.  He is working on a tech thingy to improve cycling safety.  He started by innocently asking if I ride bikes for:
                         A) Exercise
                         B) Recreation
                         C) Commuting
                         D) to save money
                         E)  Environmental reasons.
I immediately said, "Yes."
A little confused, He asked, "Which?"  I said,  "Yes, all that,  and you can add travel as well."
Then he asked if I had ridden to the coffee shop.  Cute, right?  Anyway, he asked a bunch more stuff about bike safety, especially mirrors and sight and distance and managing all that in traffic.  It appears he is creating a cell phone app to replace human vision and intuition.  Kids these days. 
               And, talking about how time passes, I have wavered for years over the idea of a tattoo.  I always backed off realizing that I am too fickle to have any one thing painted on me forever.  One does grow more mature (I like that better than the O word).  Even I have to admit I have reached an age where permanence doesn't matter much,
forever just ain't happenin' anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The internet provides a new adventure in cycling.

     The Labor Day weekend promised to be the finest weather of the summer here in Michigan.  I was not going to miss the opportunity to ride through that.  I set off on The Hunq to the Indiana Dunes again.  I've been through the area and stayed there, but never took the time to explore the trails and sites along the Dunes Lakeshore.  In previous visits I was pressed for time and last year it was just oppressively hot.  Well I took advantage of the great temps and headed down the road.  The first day was an easy 50+ miles through familiar back roads 

until I found the campground in Berrien Springs full.  It was only Thursday, it wasn't supposed to fill up until Friday!  Oh well, I grabbed some groceries at the local store and headed out of town on a road I had never explored.  After a few rolling miles of lightly traveled roads through private forest land, I found a small old church and went behind the little cemetery to camp for the night.  Not the company I prefer, but I didn't bother them, they didn't bother me.
      The rule when stealth camping is to set up late and leave early.  So I whiled away a little time on the internet and fixed dinner until sunset.  By then I knew nobody was going to bother me.  It all worked out, because I had wanted to reach the Dunewood Campground early to be sure I got a site.  My little detour and early departure put me into the Dunes before noon and I was able to snag the last available campsite.  That left me the afternoon free to go into Michigan City and get supplies I would need for a couple of days.
     Saturday was a day of exploring the Dunes Lakeshore.  There is a trail, The Calumet Trail.  I have seen this trail before at night and it wasn't pleasant.  It is really a service road the power company has abandoned.  The park service seems to have the same idea.  Even without rain for days, most of the trail is a stream of rocky puddles, many are 6-8 inches deep. The only value this little road has is that nobody uses it and it runs parallel to US-20 so it is easy to keep out of traffic.
Turning away from this was more fun than riding it and I found my way to the lake shore which was jammed with holiday travelers.   There are miles of public and private beaches along this segment of the coast and the luxurious weather brought people out in droves.
There is a nice frontage road leading along the dunes 
with many points of access to the beaches.
      There is a network of trails to be found in the area.  I looked at a couple and the elevation and sand were discouraging enough.  This would be Pugsley country, but the park service also had signs posted to discourage any traffic and help the natural dune vegetation recover. The rest of Saturday was lazy.   A late lunch at Barclay's where the food never fails and neither do the cocktails.  Around the campsites I spent some time with people curious about the bike travel and the Park rangers recognized me and spent a little time chatting.  It was holiday weekend and by evening I shut out the noise of the abundant rugrats with some old jazz and a few beers.
Miles Davis keeps good tempo with the sun on the leaves.
      Saturday and Sunday provided more perfect riding weather.  This trip has become a manifestation of the ride being the reason.  Yeah, I had a destination but chose no path.  It reminds me of the good ole days when we  would look at a map, find a secondary road running parallel to a major highway and take our chances.  Today, Google Maps or a similar digital service will provide a route.  That's too structured.  The little GPS marker from the phone will tell you where you are in relationship to your destination, The Hunq is built for touring any road anywhere.  So why bother?
I needed to go northeast to get home.  That's where I rode.   
Picking and choosing roads at a glance I meandered my way back home not in any danger of being bored by riding the same route back.  I was not out here to hurry or log any record on Strava.  Just enjoying the trip and finding new ways was the order of the day.  Saturday I headed for a State Forest near Dowagiac where I could camp.  My nose, and the little blue marker on my phone, led me through the grid of back roads in the farm country.  It was exhilarating in it's own way to not know what lay ahead, and that I could handle whatever it is.
The internet is providing a new standard in adventure cycling to escape the urban malaise.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Aimlessly beautiful

Sunday and Monday were the return trip.  Like all the other days the weather was intoxicating.  Rather than choose a route home,  I spent the day waving at other cyclists as I meandered northeast down whatever road I hadn't seen before. The roads are being strewn with dry acorns and just a hint of color is sneaking into the foliage.