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, July 11, 2019

Goodwill on an overnight

     Well, life sometimes gets in the way of important stuff.  Not bicycling, that's just a part of everything in the game.  But, the trials of family and maturity get in the way of sitting down and recording the good stuff.  I've still been riding my bike more than most people believe, but it has been mostly utilitarian in nature and just not worth the repetition of writing about it.
        I did manage an overnight to the lakeshore a week or two (been so busy, I can't remember).  Arriving at the nearly full state park campground, I was met by a friendly neighbor who brought dinner over to me.  She must have thought I was living on berries and twigs since I was on a bike, but it was a nice gesture.  She probably wouldn't understand that, although the pasta primavera was great, it wasn't enough after 50 miles on the bike.  After setting up camp I moseyed over to the local bar for nachos and beer as a main course. 
      After  a good night's sleep, I enjoyed a beautiful day wandering along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  I have never seen the lake as high as it is.  The water line is usually 10-15 feet below the top of the pier in the photo.  We have had an enormous amount of rain, so much the farmers will suffer all over the Midwest.  It didn't quit.  During the night we had a torrential downpour.  My neighbor had moved out and was replaced by another in a travel trailer.  In the morning as I was getting ready to cook breakfast, the new neighbor came running over with a sausage/egg sandwich and coffee.  He looked genuinely shocked that I hadn't gotten soaking wet during the night.  I guess he doesn't understand what tents are.  There are nice people everywhere, but they seem to assume a bicycle and a tent are a hardship not a sport.
      I was glad the poncho was with me.  It rained continually on the route home.  The rain cape was a real advantage since the wind was behind me the whole way and provided a nice sail to boost me along the way.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bike week

Kalamazoo Bike Week kicked off with another addition of the annual Bike Camp.  49 new and returning riders signed up for the 4 Saturday classes to reintroduce them to cycling.
Volunteers from several bike shops as well as the club were on hand to give bikes a mechanical going over as well as provide an expert fitting and adjustment.
After which they were lead through a safety riding course and supervised rides of 5, 10 or 15 miles on the city streets.    
In another area of town the Vintage Bike show and swap was going on at the Old Dog Tavern downtown.  I arrived kind of late and didn't get to see some of the wares for sale,but did get to see the excellent New Belgium city bike being auctioned off.  The only thing this beauty missed is a decent dyno hub and lights, but with the nice steel frame, accessories and the Nexus 8 speed gears it was a real deal for the winner.

I was late in the day and a few of the vendors had packed up but there was still a large selection of bikes hanging around and people enjoying the courtyard bar with with a brew.
There were bike events and rides scheduled throughout town for the week and I missed most of them.
At the end of the week the Bike Camp continued with an hour and a half of maintenance tips and training for the 49 campers who signed up.
For our local club, this has become a great growth mechanism.  The campers get four Saturdays of instruction about various facets of the sport as well as membership to the club and the benefit of our supplemental medical insurance.  The club has gained new members year as a result of this program.
Each classroom session is followed by another ride of various lengths and speeds to help the new riders acclimate themselves to different traffic situations and riding techniques.  It's a little scary for those of us who are instructors and are constantly reminded of all the problems, techniques and solutions we take for granted.   
         One great event that fell below most people's radar was the implementation of the signage for the new Bikeway being developed.  The first of the new signs were put in place along the commuter route being developed throughout the region.  I have mentioned this before but this is an integrated route developed by the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study for the the Bike Friendly Kalamazoo group.  Based upon mapping by KATS it will provide the largest and only designated regional cycling network I have heard of, at least on this continent.

Friday, April 12, 2019

When the bike ride goes bad, but for the better.

     It all made sense, it sounded simple enough.  Spring break week, get out of the cold, wet early spring here in Michigan and find someplace a little warmer for a few days.  Last summer, when I wandered around the forest in Michigan, it occurred to me that there were a lot of places like that I hadn't seen, I realized there are 20 (count 'em) 20 national forests within a 1 day drive of my home.    So I decided to go visit one of these hidden gems that nobody looks at while they search out cities and shoreline.  The Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois is one such monster.  I packed up the day before, drove down on a Tuesday morning and was camped by 3 o'clock. 
 It was all easy peasy, I had a chance to take a hike through the "Garden of the Gods," 
 a series of cliffs overlooking the forest and the Ohio River Valley.
The rock formations are eerie and rumored by scientists to be 300 million years old.
You can almost imagine the striations being caused by the lowering water levels 
of the ancient inland ocean which deposited and compacted all the sand 
There are a couple of days of history carved into these cliffs
A nice view of the forest which is just starting to bud this early in the spring.  It was 20 degrees warmer than Michigan but only the weeds were becoming green this early in the year.
and yonder's Kantucky!
Well that was fun for the first day.  The plan was to kick back with dinner for the night and relax, Wednesday I was going to ride 20 miles or so through the woods to the river and see some more the forest was hiding.  But...I realized I had left both my tire pumps at home.  Damn, fortunately I had an inflator and an extra CO2 cylinder, so I could continue without a problem,
except that the the brand new inflator I had  was a problem.  No, there was more to it.  It was a Planet Bike part. I like their flashy lights, their fenders get good reviews; this is a piece of shit.   It not only wouldn't puncture and open the cylinder, the damn thing came apart in my hand.  Well I took the positive approach and decided it was all for the best that it happened when I was on a car trip.  I was going to drive to a different part of the forest,  so I simply made a 10 mile detour past Wal-Mart and bought a cheap mini pump which turned out worse than the inflator.  I gave up with only 45 lbs of pressure.  After driving down to the other part of the forest, I realized, (taking the positive approach again) that the  gravel roads I expected were far too rough for 32mm tires anyway.   Their "gravel" was more like the coarse granite ballast used to compact and build railroad beds. 
So I rationalized the whole damn thing 
took a very pleasant walk in the woods along the streams that
led to the Johnson Falls and the valleys and ravines created by all the streams and water falls.  Now I'm thinking this was a good way to reconnoiter the area for a future trip.  This forest must be magnificent in the fall with colors in all the hardwoods.  I'm thinking it's a great opportunity to ride a heavier bike over a 20 or thirty gravel miles, hike the two or three into woods  below the falls, strip down and go for a swim in the pond.  That's my kind of triathlon.
So the trip was not a total loss and I'm looking forward to another visit.  I'm also ordering the Genuine Innovations inflator that I used to have, lost, but know works flawlessly despite the fact that no LBS carries it any more.  This is how Amazon keeps drawing customers, the locals don't have what we want, so they force us to go elsewhere.
In the meantime, I'll try and learn a few ancient Wikken curses 
to lay on this thing, bludgeon it into a billion pieces and consign it to oblivion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Well, I'm glad that's over!

    Winter that is...I think.    This is Michigan and you cannot be too certain at this point, but the (in)Accuweather app on my phone is predicting a slow warming trend for the next week.  It was a really frustrating winter.  It never got consistent enough to ski, every time we had a substantial snowfall, it would warm up and rain for a day or two.  That made the streets, trails and sidewalks unpredictably icy and hard to use even with 50mm studded tires.  I know, I know, fat tire this and that, but I just can't get there since that's only a minor inconvenience.   I'd rather see a consistent temperature range in the teens and twenties because it's easier to dress for that.  Rain and cold don't work well together, but hopefully that's past and we can make normal plans now.
       This year the city helped kick off the cycling season for the "normal" people by inviting the Kalamazoo Bicycling Club to lead the annual St. Patrick's day parade.  Despite freezing temperatures and sleet falling int he morning, there were a couple thousand spectators lining the streets as a dozen or so cyclists tried to maintain a 1 MPH pace along the 1/2 mile route.  Imagine trying to perform a track stand for thirty minutes.  It was tough without training wheels but we survived with only one fall (damned clipless pedals).
      Then we all got invited to Bell's Brewery for a free beer and their St. Patty's celebration.  It was a fitting way for the community to welcome cyclists into the springtime which is officially here today on the 20th...along with snow and sleet.  Oh, well!