First Ride of 2018 – in New Orleans

My wife and I took a February vacation to escape the cold and enjoy some Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. Her bro-in-law and his wife had us as guests in a resort hotel. Best of all, they brought their bikes along!

I rented a cruiser from a nearby bike shop, and we took an afternoon ride. Had a tough time getting used to the coaster brake, but other than that the bike served me well.

Starting from our Garden District hotel, bro-in-law took the lead, choosing mostly main streets with either bike lanes or shared lanes through Uptown and Downtown. He was worried about me not being comfortable on busy city streets – he don’t know me very well – do he? It’s better to take the major streets than trying to snake around on the side streets because they are mostly a mess of potholes, uneven bricks, parked cars, and more potholes.

We had no problems cruising across the top of the French Quarter on Rampart St., then up Esplanade to City Park. It is here where we were to meet his wife, daughter, and grandkids for some quality playground time. However, the kids had both fallen asleep, so his wife jumped on a streetcar to meet us at the park and ride back.

It took a little over an hour for her to arrive, so we killed time with a tour of the park, cold drinks from the coffee shop, and a little bench time. This is a big park with a sculpture museum, art museum, and plenty of green space.

In front of City Park there is a large limestone podium that used to house a sculpture of a Confederate War hero. I asked a 20-something guy who was waiting for the streetcar if he knew who had been up there. His answer: “some dude on a horse”. Turns out it was General G. T. Beauregard.

Once his wife arrived she secured a Blue Bike (bike share in NOLA) and we headed back.

The trip went well until we got Downtown. It was getting dark, and I was feeling a little vulnerable without a front light (back light was blinking). The post 5pm traffic was thick and rushed, but we held our ground in the shared bus/bike lane and later a bike only lane. Unfortunately, the bike lane ended abruptly and we were tossed into a mess of interstate on/off ramps on a street that turned the wrong way. We ended up walking the bikes back to an intersection and finding a new street that was heading the right direction.

Directions are tough in NOLA because they are determined based on the location of the Mississippi River and Downtown rather than N-S-E-W. I just pointed and said “that way” most of the time.

Anyway, we got back on a route that was headed the correct version of “that way” that had a nice bike lane. We shortly came upon the Lafitte Greenway which gave us a respite from the auto traffic. Before long we returned back to the hotel in the dark.

Nice ride of about 16 miles!

(Photos below. Some taken while riding are crooked or poorly framed. Others taken from solid ground may be as well)











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No Trespassing

I guess I can’t use my favorite cut-through route any more.

None Shall Pass

Had to do a quick lift over this plastic chain

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Tour de Tart 2017

This was my 2nd running of the Tour de Tart – a peaceful 17 miles from Traverse City to Suttons Bay along the Leelenau Trail. This ride is for all ages and abilities, and the route discourages fast riding and instead promotes a leisurely pace through the woods and fields. Included are views of cherry orchards and vineyards, and a peek or two of Grand Traverse Bay.

Ending at the park in the center of Suttons Bay along the beach, the organizers served a casual meal with beer and soft drinks. (I had a pulled pork sandwich with slaw and an amber ale) Be sure to try the cherry root beer from Cherry Republic.

TART offers a bus ride back to the starting point where our bikes are delivered and securely returned.

Nice time!!

Suttons Bay after the Tour de Tart

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Independence Day Ride

I haven’t done a long ride just for fun in a long time, so I headed out today on a new-to-me route.

East Bay Dock

Started at the TART trail head near my house and headed towards town. Just like my commute I turned on to the creatively named Airport Access Road and was soon riding along East Bay Blvd and then East Shore Road. This quiet path hugs the East arm of Grand Traverse Bay and is lined with impressive lakeshore homes. There were a few other bikers on the route, but not many motorized vehicles. It was early enough that there weren’t too many 4th of July revelers out yet, although I did see several setups in progress. I imagine there were many extended family picnics and parties through the day and evening.

East Bay View

East Shore Rd hits Peninsula Drive at the East Grand Traverse Bay Boat Launch. This was a good spot for a water break before heading back. The scenery was just as nice heading south.

Rest stop at the boat launch

Coming Back into Town

I hope to do this route again next year on the 4th.

Waves in the Trees

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First Ride of 2017

Had a warmer than average day, so I took the opportunity to ride around the neighborhood. The Mrs. took several photos from a living room window to document the occasion, but they all included the bird feeder hanging outside. Google Photos put together this pano/composite photo that took out the feeder – pretty neat!

First ride of 2017

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Helmets Are Bad for Us?

I ran across this article by Mark Smith at Risk Sense that poses the idea that helmet use by cyclists may be detrimental.

Now I have seen many articles that discuss research showing how mandatory helmet laws can significantly reduce cycling and lead to a less healthy population, but this post also shows an individual risk for the lid wearer:

…Curnow points out that the most dangerous type of injury to the heads of cyclists are of the “rotational” or “torsional” variety. This takes place when the head and neck twist rapidly. These injuries can cause the brain to become detached from the connective tissue and the brain stem can be torn. It is these injuries that bicycle helmets make worse, and make happen when they normally wouldn’t. The thickness of the helmet causes the head to come into contact with surfaces that it would not in a person not wearing a helmet. Because of this, and the movement and sliding of a crashing cyclist, the helmet will “grab” the ground and cause the head to twist, leading to these extremely dangerous injuries to the brain.

My sister has been harassing me for my lack of helmet use, mostly within the hearing of her children as she battles to instill the helmet habit. Should I share this article with her?

See the entire post at:

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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


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



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