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.

Friday, October 5, 2018

An historical weekend

     It was time for a long weekend.  I wasn't in the mood for a three day bike trip but wanted to visit a couple of special sites.  I drove across the state and set up a base camp at the Pontiac state forest planning a mini spoke and hub tour.  The plan was to take a ride on Friday to a special site but it was cold, rainy and unhealthy so I just cooked dinner, had few drinks, talked to some fellow campers and crashed early.
Saturday was sunny, bright and the temps in the mid sixties which made for a pleasant day to make the wrong turn and log some extra special bonus miles over  gravel roads through a forest.  It led me on an inspiring wild goose chase extending an 18 mile into a 30 mile ride to the Michigan Renaissance Festival.
If you haven't ever been to one, a Renaissance Festival is like going to a county fair pretending to be 500 years old.  This one is well developed and collects a great crowd.
Vendors were selling all kinds of esoteric goods and jewelry imitating old stuff and fantasy.
Carnival games are built aroundthe good old days and presumed customs.
The Society for Creative Anachronism is hugely involved which explains how the costumes and characters never seem to accurately portray any particular historical period,
and how they can justify a real modern fencing tournament to go along with spear tossing and live jousting contests.
All in all it was a great afternoon.  I was well amused, ate, drank and bought some old looking stuff I really liked and didn't need before enjoying another great, but shorter, ride back to camp.
After a great day in the quasi-historical world, I went on an odessey to take the Hunqapillar to visit his presumed roots (that's right just slipping farther and farther from the real world).  The weather didn't cooperate to make the 15 to 20 mile trip but I was on a mission to unite the Hunqapillar with his history.
I drove down to the Clinton County trailway where I rode a few miles to an actual historical site where a Mastadon was discovered by the road commission.
It gave the Hunq a brief but important moment to commune with it's relative history.
I know, somebody is going to correct me
because Wooly Mammoth's and Mastadon's are not exactly the same, but they are close relatives and, hey, any excuse for a bike ride!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Alien life form

         I realized how completely alien I am to the average american cyclist.   I was in a local bike shop picking up some chain lube (Rock 'n Roll, I've never tried it, people say it's ok).  Along came a "serious" cyclist.  He's been at this a number of years he said and was preparing for a big charity ride.  He needed the bike mechanics to decide if he needed new tires.  Yep, the "serious" rider needed the bike shop kid to make that decision.  I listened as he explained his strategy for "attacking" the upcoming ride and not make the mistakes he had made in previous rides so he could improve his speed.  He went on to brag that he expected to break 3,000 miles this year.  By then, the owner had come around and, knowing me quite well, stood back with a secret smile anticipating what I might say.  I told the guy that I really don't keep track of mileage but guessed that I passed 3,000 miles sometime in April.  He was amazed, but then I told him I take a different attitude towards riding,
I go places on my bike.
He was perplexed. 
        He stared, the owner laughed,the "serious" cyclist was still staring at me as I walked out the door and rode away on one of my prize bikes
which looks nothing like his carbon crotch rocket.
      It goes deeper than that.  In my quest to "go places" I have replaced the need for speed with conservation of energy.  When I see a hill, I don't jump from the saddle and attack to save my average speed.  I decide which gear will get me up with the least amount of energy.  Years of touring have taught me to reach my destination with some gas in the tank so I can enjoy where I have gone.  
    That kinda gets me to the latest greatest thing, riding with GPS, whether it's Garmin, Strava, RwGPS Map my Life or whatever else has come up lately, they leave me cold.   I plotted a new map of a ride to our club's RwGPS account and hated myself for doing it.  It took hours to figure out how to turn the damn app off.  What a pain in the butt, who cares where I actually went?  I think that stuff is good for the compulsive competitor, it gives them a constant outlet, some recognition they crave and is healthier and cheaper than golf, although probably just as time consuming.   At least with expensive gadgets people are likely to get out more often than the weekly club rides, although they seem compelled to ride the same routes to compete with their friends rather than trying to just enjoy a trip going somewhere.

Mileage goals are counterproductive.  Just ride your bike, enjoy the ride and you will ride more often.  Possibly, you'll gain more from it.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

This is exciting!

Really, it is.
   Last year after a failed attempt at tubeless conversion I decided to try Stan's sealant in my tubes.  I just found the selection of tubeless tires to be lacking any practical choices.  The ones out there are made for competition, in which I proudly do not participate, and were damned expensive.  Besides that, I would still have to carry a tube in case I was in SW Buttheadistan and had a puncture too large for the sealant to conquer, and my imaginary sag wagon was busy at the donut shop.  Anyway, tubeless doesn't make a lot of sense to the commuter and tourist market.
    Using Stan's sealant in the tubes worked out quite well last year.  I had a total of eight punctures that I know of, a number of suspected slow leaks and zero flats to change.   The most I had to do was remove a little wire or tiny piece of glass from the tread, add air and ride.  Easy Peasy. 
    This year I had a lot of tires to replace so I did a little research.  As good as Stan's product is, it has to be refreshed from time to time.  It will harden and congeal in the tube if you  don't.  I found another product called Flat Attack which is supposed to have a useful life of 6 years.  I bought some of their pre-filled tubes to use when I replace a tire.   I have replaced the tires on all my bikes now that it's August and am just as happy as I was with Stan's but look forward to leaving them alone until I change tires again.  I expect to add a new tube with each new tire in the future because the old tube will probably be glued to the old tire by the sealant, but hell I bought new tubes for new tires anyway.  These are a buck or two more expensive than normal tubes but if I don't need to replace them 8 times a year it's a net savings.  The sealant is also supposed to be environmentally friendly.  I feel all warm and fuzzy using it. 
    There is a bit of a learning curve to all this.  The one possible drawback is that you can get the sealant into the valve.  All you have to do to prevent it, is set the valve at 8 or 4 o'clock position (using your wheel as a clock face of course) so there is no sealant trapped in the stem or a pool of sealant underneath when you are filling it.  That's so simple even I get it. 

Lookee there!  Perfect form already, eight o'clock on the nose and no flats in nearly two years.   No, I don't know what the sealant weighs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A roll through the woods

I've been all tied up with real world BS the last few weeks and think I should just give it all the finger and take time to ride to Anchorage to clear my mind.  Instead I decided to spend a few days in the Manistee Forest.   On the route from Paris to Cadillac I found the unfinished portion of the trail paved and nearly finished.    Each intersection was blocked with "trail closed" signs but I forgot to notice and virgin asphalt just begs violation.
The trip from Paris, Mi to Cadillac was a quiet and pristine experience as a result.  My jangled nerves were relieved by the silence swaying through the pines.
In Cadillac I stopped by the National Forest Service to pick up an annual pass.  Our government had words of wisdom to share, it's bureau speak for "take care of yourself and don't bother me."
It didn't feel quite like the end of July.  The temps in the mid 70's made riding a stress free experience, but the nights were a bit nippy and required a fire to keep the cozy spirits up in the evening.  I should have brought some long pants.
The morning ride from Cadillac into the forest is an inevitable trip down M 55 which is not bad.  It's got nice wide shoulders and the drivers are attentive but it does cross small mountains.  Slow going for a while but it got me into the secondary roads. where I discovered the Google bike route failure.
Most of the roads are scenic and quiet.  They make me wish I knew more about birds 'cause that's all there is out here.  Shady roads and quiet times made me realize I was a little off course.  There was also the motorcyclists who gave me the "Where's he think he's going?" look.  I was on a road to nowhere and had to consult the little blue Google ball on my phone.  Sure enough, I missed a turn, I went back to the "intersection" shown on the Google bike route and wondered,
"how could I have missed this!"  I felt such a fool.  Anybody could see a road there, all you have to do is crawl on your hands and knees under the foliage to see it.  Apparently there was a two track to service some power lines, but the forest has swallowed it and doesn't look like it's spitting it back out.
I finally did reach the Pine Lake campground and found a beautiful view and about 12 isolated and fairly private campsites.
The next day was back into the forest on the sandy country roads.  On this trip there was no attempt to prove anything.  Most days were relegated to slow appreciation of the countryside and 30-40 miles of nominal distance covered.  There were some necessary side trips for food and drink
as well as a brief stop at "Big M" where there are some expert quality mountain trails and I had a chance to rub shoulders with the normal cycling world which was having some kind of thing going on there.  It was pretty much a spandex deal and I didn't quite fit in without suspension on the bike and no diapers to wear.
So, I went back to the meditation the forest provides
where one runs across isolated lakes and day use areas in the middle of the forest.
The gem was reaching the Lake Michigan Rec area where the coastline was purely Michigan.   I've said before that nothing really eclipses the Michigan coastline.  I've seen the Atlantic from both sides, the Mediterranean, the Gulf from a few angles and played golf on Carmel's famous Spanish Bay, but nothing's better than this.
Miles of sparsely populated beaches with crystal clear refreshing water.
The difference between National Forest Service campgrounds and the Modern State campgrounds is enormous.  Even at the Lake Michigan site there is plenty of privacy between the 99 campsites.
Compare that to the trailer parks state park campgrounds have become.
Heading back after a day at the beach, I caught a portion of USBR 20 which is plotted east/west route across Michigan.
I discovered a bit of old logging history in Fountain
with this enormous statue dedicated to the industry. 
I wasn't alone out on the paved roads.  This one part of two groups of 12 I ran across during the week.  They are traveling for a week with a camping program.
The last night I stayed outside of Baldwin and caught the rail trail back to Reed City.  Baldwin is kind of a neat little town, they must do a lot of fishing because they have a gigantic and very lovely metal sculpture of a fish at the trailhead.  I have no idea what that has to do with a rail trail, but it must be important to somebody.
The trail itself is an extension of the Pere Marquette trail which continues to Midland Michigan.  The surface is "packed" limestone which wouldn't be bad if it were packed.
This was something I had never seen before, there is a paved exit ramp to allow access to a road side park on Hwy 10 which is contiguous along most of the trial.
The truth is the ride was a real test of patience.  It's uphill on the typical rail trail grade of 1-2%, for miles.  I would honestly rather have ridden the sandy two tracks in the woods than this trail.  Coupled with the very loose and irregular limestone surface it was slow and annoying all the way until I finally reached Reed City and the paved portion of the trail.
Overall it was a cathartic 5 days in the woods, just me, the birds and trees and stuff.  The weather on the trip was nearly perfect, if fact a little cool at night, a little partly cloudy stumbled and fell for about 20 minutes one day but that was all the weather had to offer.