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 develops 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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Replacing greedy capitalists, and too dumb to come in from the rain.

   There are certainly ironic things that happen.  The purchase of Pabst Brewing co by a Russian business conglomerate is one of the great crises of our time.  Those of us who grew up in a time before microbrews remember the days people distrusted American capitalists.

We have since watched our world cave in to Japanese investors, then Chinese and now our cold war enemy is buying an iconic beer brand.  This would be a moral quandary for baby boomer bikers for whom beer is the most important re hydration compound ever.  Honestly, we don't give a shit.   We can afford the micro brews in our neighborhood and the parking ticket for our BMW's equipped with the overpriced Cervelo on the roof.  Nowadays, manipulation by evil totalitarians means nothing to the fixie hipsters who have gravitated to the brand.   Sigh!
In other big news, our club held their anniversary ride this past weekend.  It was limited this year by unseasonably cool temps and the threat of rain.  The event is enjoyable, we meet at the local trail head, take over the shelter ride a little and hang out and eat a lot.
  The rain was foreboding (love that word), but most of us avoided everything except some mist while riding.  The real stuff came down on the way home and that's what I came for.
     Truly, I am not smart enough to come in from the rain.  I actually wore out my Campmor Rain Cape.  What!   It's PVC for Crissakes!  It has a half-life of 750 billion years to degrade.  It's true though,  I wore it so much that the water repellent wore out.  I retreated it with some Coleman stuff, that helps, but you know it will never be the same.  It was, and they still are, a bargain at 35-40 bucks, and it kept me dry for 4 years.  I will still be using it in it's weak, diminished form because it will work for camping trips.
        For town I broke down and bought a Grundens rain cape.  This was my first opportunity to try it. Grundens products are known for keeping North Atlantic fishermen dry and comfy
 so I think I can trust them.
Doesn't that logo inspire confidence?  It makes me feel good.
The only place I found this is on the Rivendell site.  It's another design Grant had his fingers in.
Since I always risk sounding like a shill for Riv products, I Googled and Yahooed the crap out this cape and found nothing else.  As nearly as I could find, they are the only ones who sell it.
There are prettier and trendier capes out there, but they are two to 3 times the price and not made in this obnoxiously visible yellow which can be seen in day as well as at night.
Others struggle to be more fashionable but are not as visible.
 Staying alive is a priority, so I like obnoxiously visible in the rain.
Since Grundens has a reputation for being impervious to water, and the cape is yellow, I was afraid it would be that really heavy rubberized "slicker" material.  Not so, it's a very light and pliable but obviously dense fabric.  Compared to the Campmor product there is a huge difference in quality.  The Campmor cape is what you pay for, an inexpensive treated shell.  The Grundens has a light, napped polyester lining inside to improve the comfort and warmth as well as better outer fabric.  It is also longer in the right places.  The front of the Campmor is 34 inches long from the neckline.  The Grundens is 50" long.  The effective difference is that the Campmor covers your hands and gets to the handlebars, the Grundens not only covers your hands, it drapes over the handlebars.
The ride home from the anniversary ride was my first opportunity to use it.  It wasn't raining hard but the cape really is a world more comfortable and more effective.
According to the reputation, I can look forward to years and years of comfort in this cape.
There are more fashionable ways to go about it,

but being dorked out in Riv rain kit ( cape, shin shields and splats) is only $179
and keeps your human self dry,comfy, reflective and visible.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Sown into order
scents growing, accumulating
 fragrance to harvest.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I can get here from there!

So what exactly should one do with a beautiful weekend in September?  
Take a train ride and bike trip.  I hadn't ridden Amtrak with a regular bike, but they added the option on one of the Michigan trains this year.
  I had a mission to pursue in Chicago which made for an excellent excuse.
It was a simple exercise, the conductor opened up the cafe car for me and I simply rolled the bike up the steep steps, the vestibule between cars is very narrow so I stood the bike on the rear wheel, vertically to turn it around and head it into the car. 
 Even the ridiculously wide Bosco Bars fit through the doorways and down the hall.
The 4 racks in the cafe replaced a couple of tables and are a really simple and accessible arrangement.  An extra 10 bucks, no problems,
 I see some  opportunities for future trips.
My mission in Chicago was finding a mythical route between Michigan and downtown Chicago,
one that avoids the nightmare of Gary, Indiana.
I know it's a shrine of sorts because Michael Jackson was raised there.  For those unfamiliar 
what you see here is the nice part of town. 
 It is the home of  heavy industry. 
 It all makes perfect economic and geographic sense. 
 The lake provides international access for ships with iron ore in and milled steel out.  
Chicago is the transportation capital of North America and 
rails bring in minerals, coal and coke for the process.  
 Then consider all the roads torn up by the heavy equipment needed to service all these plants 
and the wonderful social and residential opportunities that develop around such industrial parks. 
 It ain't a nice place to ride a bike.
Surprisingly, downtown Chicago is.  
After de-training and rolling my bike through Union Station while grabbing a genuine Chicago Dog for the road, I hit the Lakeshore Trail to head south .
The trip was surprisingly easy.  Google Maps, despite their bike route program being weak, provides the exact route I would have selected.  The 66 mile trip was really pleasant with about 90 percent provided by a series of disconnected, but accessible trails through suburban neighborhoods. 
 The most difficult part was the stretch from South Chicago to Calumet City which was city streets.  Even the streets were well provided with marked bike routes, bike lanes and shared lanes.
The rest of the ride was provided by paved linear parks which wind their way through the suburbs,

offering some interesting safety features like this chicane to slow cyclists before a rail crossing.
So, I sacrificed a few miles to avoid the residential challenges of Gary, Ind.

for miles of parkways with blooming wildflowers.
I took my time, checking the route frequently on my phone and stopping for snacks I reached Michigan City as darkness was arriving.
  I found the Calumet Trail at the Indiana Dunes to be the weakest part of the trail system.  
As trails go, it's kind of a joke.  It appears to be a neglected sandy, two track through shoulder high dune grass.  I assume it's an abandoned service road the power company once used to service their equipment.  It takes you nowhere near the dunes or lake shore,
between the forest and the railroad right of way. 
 It was full of puddles, I mean big puddles of water, some 100 yards long and was not a pleasant experience even on 32mm tires.  I rode through it and would recommend the road for that part of the trip.  The Dunes Highway is not that busy and has a negotiable paved shoulder with very good visibility.  The Calumet Trail might be a reasonable journey in the daytime if it is dry, 
but I experienced neither.
After a night in a motel, I felt refreshed and ready for the road.  It really was the road this time.  Technically it is the lower part of USBR35 and"Red Arrow" Highway at that point.  Riding out of Michigan City north, I made the trip through New Buffalo, experiencing the comfort of a tailwind, as well as a nice wide shoulder on the highway.  I noticed a 6mm bolt had come loose from the Pletscher Rack.   I was hoping for a hardware store when a Bike Shop appeared.  
Terry's place is just what you see there, 
 a big ole barn full of bikes.
Most are salvaged or traded department store bikes,
but there are some cute, mid priced vintage rides mixed in. 
He was kind enough to let me rummage through the parts to find an acceptable bolt.  
I gave him a buck, we exchanged cards, parted friends. 
The remainder of the ride was uneventful, except that it was as perfect as a mid western day can be.
Mid 60's, somehow the humidity gathered and conspired into cotton candy clouds,
county roads filled with silence
and fragrance of the harvest.
Ripening in the mid west is a sense of life.
I finished the day watching myself spread across the fields against the failing light.  
A better way to spend a weekend will be hard to find.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This is what happens...

When you attempt to avoid Gary Indiana.  You find a really beautiful and well maintained trail corridor in and out of Chicago.