A Rare Michigan Summer Day (in September)

This past Saturday found me riding downtown to hang out in the bookstore. (hot and cold drinks, breakfast, baked treats, WiFi – tough to find a better place to catch up on the week’s emails and the little tasks they bring)

I took my usual route from the trail head at Holiday and Munson on the TART Trail. However, instead of jumping off at Hastings St to get to work, I continued west past “Jupiter Park”.

Park with Jupiter model

I had a close call where the trail crosses Garfield St at Hannah drive. The route uses the crosswalk at the stoplight there. I stopped for the cute little trail stop sign, saw that the cars on Garfield had a red light, and proceeded. Of course, as soon as I entered the street the light changed to green. Of the two lanes of southbound traffic, the driver in the first lane saw me and waited, but the right lane guy just gunned it. It took a hard squeeze of the brakes and a little skidding not to hit his car. A dude walking east on the trail said “That was a close one!” It sure was!

I left the trail at Front St to get downtown. There is a bike lane painted on the right side of the street throughout the business district. I appreciate the effort, but I’m not comfortable riding in it because of the risk of being doored. Also, the lane is interrupted by traffic calming features that squeeze the road at marked pedestrian crossings. The curbs and signs help drivers be aware of the crossings, but they also make it difficult for cyclists. We would be better off with no lane and sharrows, but those bring their own problems as riders unfamiliar with them tend to use the sidewalks instead. On Front St. I prefer to take the traffic lane and avoid the bike lane.

Bike lane next to parked cars

Anyway, there is ample bike rack space both in front of Horizon Books and across the street. I grabbed a Wild Bill’s Root Beer and a ginger cookie, and settled into the outdoor seating to get my work done and people watch.

A gentleman arrived shortly after and stood in front of the bookstore selling a magazine reportedly written by homeless people. It wasn’t long before he and a guy sitting at one of the other tables began to discuss their prison experiences. The magazine seller then moved on to another site.

After about an hour my wife called to see if I wanted to join her at the Farmer’s Market. It’s only a couple of blocks away, so I rode over. The market was bustling with vendors and customers, so bike parking was in short supply. After I found a pole to use, I found out about the bicycle valet service provided by the local bike club. They have a small corral setup where your bike can be safely parked while you shop. Nice deal.

After cruising the market and tipping the buskers (highlight was a young lady playing Irish jigs on a flute), I headed back home. One driver on 8th St tried pass me, but then slowly veered right before clearing my front wheel. Let’s be careful out there, folks!

All-in-all, a great day for a ride!

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Smart Commute Week

Last week in Traverse City was Smart Commute Week. Sort of like Bike to Work day celebrated in many places in May, except extended to cover all forms of alternate transportation including cycling, car pooling, walking, and public transit.

I didn’t ride the first two days of the week, as one day was rainy and the other threatened rain that never quite arrived. However, Wednesday through Friday were perfect bike commute days.

Bicycle hanging from a bike rack

Wednesday was a big day in Dan on Bike history. My ride was short because I was attending training at the college’s airport campus, but on the way home I tackled the big hill in my subdivision.

How big is this hill? Let’s do the math. Strava tells me that it has a rise of 191ft, and Google Maps says that the road is 0.3 miles. So, if I take 191ft / (0.3 miles * 5280 ft per mile), that comes to 12%. Does that mean it is a 12% grade? I don’t know, but I’m boasting anyway.

Earlier attempts at the hill have seen me only make it a short way up before tiring out, so I tried something new. My approach was to put the bike in the easiest gear possible, and pedal as slowly as I could without falling over. I easily passed my previous quitting points before my first rest stop. A couple of minutes allowed me to get my breathing back to a normal rate. The second section was pretty steep, and soon another rest was called for. Shortly after resuming, I could see the top, and I knew I would make it. First time to conquer the Holiday Pines Hill!!! My son hasn’t even done this yet.

On Thursday I started out working at the airport, but later pedaled to the main campus. I also decided to start and end my ride from the TART trailhead lot on Holiday Road.

Multi-modal Transportation Action

Even though I made it up the big hill, it isn’t something I want to do every day. So the hill was becoming a wall that kept me from riding. Using the trailhead lot that is only half a mile from my house helps me keep a positive attitude about cycling so I can do it more often.

Friday was the last day of the special week, and I rode to and from the main campus without incident.

Wanna see some Strava activities?

One nice thing about riding on the TART is how busy it is during commute time. I’m starting to recognize other regulars.

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Office Companion

I brought my lock, but neglected to grab the key. Oh well, he gets to help me with work today.

Bicycle in office

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TART to Acme

Took my first ride on the TART (Traverse Area Recreation Trail) today up to the nearby town of Acme. Here are a few pics. Click through for a larger view on Flickr.

bike path flanked by snow

TART

Highway next to body of water, peninsula in the distance

East Grand Traverse Bay

bicycle leaning against a brick wall

No Bike Rack at Ace Hardware in Acme

Sign on the trail which reads

Detour

Wetlands

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New

I should call this “Dan Back on Bike”. Today I took my first ride of the year, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So much has happened since last fall. I have a new job, at a new college, and in a new city, Traverse City, Michigan.  So now you can expect ride descriptions and photos from my new town.

Today was one of the first warm, somewhat dry days of the season, so I pumped up the tires and explored the neighborhood a little. It’s a pretty place, but quite hilly. Both my legs and my lungs need to get used to riding again.

I’ve already mapped out the route to work, so commuting will start soon. Stay tuned!

image

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US231 Bypass Bike Path

Bike on paved trailThe US231 Bypass around West Lafayette opened yesterday, so today I decided to try out the bike paths found on each side of the road. Starting at the SR26 intersection, the path follows the new road up to Sagamore Parkway (well, almost all the way. More on that later). This path will most certainly become a staple of my rides to the north side of town.

The path is a little more rolling than the roadway, as it seems that the engineers did less to smooth out the hills than they did for the autos. Nothing difficult, but it does help us get a little exercise – and have fun coasting afterwards.

Here’s a question: since there are two paths – one on each side – is it appropriate to think of one as northbound and the other southbound? I saw both runners and a cyclist travelling ‘against traffic’, but I don’t think there is really any rule. However, OCD riders like me will always use the ‘correct path’. :)

Features

Maybe a little thing, but I was happy to see that the manhole covers for the sewer line that runs parallel to the path are not actually in the pavement, but off to the side. Makes for a more comfortable ride.

Another nice feature is the fact that at intersections the trail crosses in front of the stop lines painted on the cross streets. (Now we just need to train drivers to observe the lines)

There is a fence separating the bike path from the roadway. I guess all divided highways have these fences, but it feels a little weird to be on the other side.

Probably my favorite change as part of the project isn’t related to the bike path – a left turn lane from SR26 to Newman Rd. Regardless of if I’m travelling on my bike or in a car, left turns will be easier and safer for all involved.

Left Turn Lane for Newman Road

Still Work to Do

Construction crews are still working on an intersection in front of the Crossroads church – finishing the church entrance and what seems to be a new road heading west through the Wake Robin expansion towards Klondike Road – and in this area both paths are unfinished. Luckily there is a generous shoulder along the road that is suitable for bicycle use.

Road to Nowhere

I was surprised to see that the north end of the path just ends with a mini cul-de-sac layout – with no where to go. Today I was able to walk over to the road, but once the fence is finished that won’t be an option. What is the plan? Will they extend the path over to McCormick Road? Until something is worked out, I will jump over to the shoulder at the McCormick Road access. On the southbound side, the current state is a little better, as the trail end is very close to Bethel Drive.

End of the Trail - Northbound

Summary

Overall, these paths are a fine addition to the Lafayette area’s infrastructure. I hope that the State can figure out a better terminus for the north end of each side of the intersection.

Now, why don’t you get out and try this new route? Let me know what you think in the comments.

(View all photos from the ride)

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September is a Wonderful Bike Month

Photos from my last couple of rides. Click through for more info and other Flickr goodness.

Not Much Death Here Anymore

Gnarly Tree

Another Great Day for a Ride

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Turkey Shoots Tour

Turkey Shoots Every Sunday

I’ve ridden past this sign many times over the years, but never thought much about it. But today I noticed that the chain across the entrance was down, so I decided to ride back and take a look.

The dirt path dropped down to the fields pretty steeply, and my street tires found no purchase for most of the way. After that it was about a quarter to half a mile back to the river between two bean fields. Along the way I met up with a heavy duty pickup pulling a large cargo trailer. I jumped over to the side to let it pass, and the driver stopped and said “Can I help you?”

This gentleman seemed about sixty years old and was pretty surly, with a wife that looked about the same. I answered that I was just getting some exercise, and he replied that “it gets to be private property back there”.

Of course, that made me want to see more. I promised to be careful and we each went our separate ways.

Back in the Woods

Near the river the fields ended and I entered a wooded area. There was a pair of steel poles with hardware for another security chain, so I’m guessing that this was where it was getting to be private property, but I continued.

The photo doesn’t really capture the lushness of the trees and undergrowth – a very pretty area.

Turkey Shoot Compound

The path met the river and turned to follow it for a ways. At the end of the road was a small building with a TV antenna flanked by RVs and pickups. A fire was burning behind a dirt mound. I decided that I was close enough to the private property and didn’t go any closer.

Wabash River

The Wabash is quiet here.

The Path In and Out

This is the path heading back. The tree line in the distance is at the edge of River Road. Click any photo to jump to the Flickr page where I’ve geotagged each shot.

Wabash River Ride

In other news, the Wabash River Ride was held a couple of weeks ago, and their Dan Henrys are still clear on the pavement. I may try one of the routes soon.

There Used to Be an FAA Shack Here

This fence on 300W used to surround a shack that presumably held airplane navigation equipment. It was taken down last year.

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Road Bike Reunion

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden my road bike, so I got it out both yesterday and today to see if I remembered how it worked. Both trips were successful, but I learned that my body is not used to that bike or that kind of riding.

Right out of the gate, I remembered how I used to always wear padded biking shorts on this saddle, and decided to revive the practice. On this bike, I tend to ride faster and pedal harder, but on day one I found that I went too fast and too far, and each time I stopped I found myself a little dizzy. Could also be because of my lack of riding in the past couple of years or my general lack of fitness, but I’m going to blame the bike.

My everyday bike is a 1997 Trek 820 mountain bike – no shocks. I’ve replaced the knobby tires with a street model that has a little traction for cornering and a low friction bead in the center. I pump them up pretty tight and they provide a fast, smooth trip. The saddle has a little bit of padding (Nashbar bargin) and a slot in the middle to protect the tender bits. Top it off with padded grip shifters, and I’ve got a pretty good ride. It even handles frieght with a strong cargo rack in the back and my wide array of panniers and bungees.

My road machine is also a Trek, but this one a mid-2000s Pilot 1.0. Except for the slightly upright postion, it is all road bike. I used it on my now famous 2 1/2 daysof RAGBRAI in 2007, and it served me well (except for the saddle sores). However, I need to get used to the seat and position, and maybe adjust for my slightly heavier physique.

Anyway, enough about me, the scenery along the Wabash River was lovely as always. Plenty of birds singing and flying about, and not many motorized vehicles to spoil the tranquility. Here are some pics:

Wabash River on a Cloudy Day

Wabash River on a Cloudy Day

Lonely Bike

Lonley Bike on Granville Bridge

Future Totem Pole?

Future Totem Pole? (I hope so)

Bike Lane Needs a Little Trim

Bike Lane Needs a Little Trim

Mud Slide

Mud Slide into the Wabash

Wrong Way, Feldman!

Wrong Way, Feldman!

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Riding with the Boy

I convinced my son to head out with me before the rain came. We took what is becoming my usual route by the Fort.

Riding with the Boy

The Mighty Wabash

The Mighty Wabash

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