Breaking the Seal

Today was my first commute by bike of the year. A little later than most years, but I was really happy to get out and ride.

To start, I drove a bit farther than usual. Normally, I would just park down the hill and leave the truck for the day so I could use it to get back up at the end of the day. No major hill climbs for this guy!

However, with the construction on the TART Trail between 4 Mile and 3 Mile Roads, the detour takes riders down the sidewalks on a busy highway. Since I’m not a sidewalk rider, I decided to drive to the other end of the closed section at 3 Mile and Parsons Road. There is a handy trailhead style lot there across from the fire station.

Of course, after I got there and out of the truck, I saw the the construction is apparently complete and the trail is open. Oh well! I’ll start back at the bottom of the hill on Monday.

Regardless of the length, that morning ride in felt wonderful! Temperatures in the 50s and a light breeze makes for a cool, comfortable ride. When I arrived I noticed that the lots were uncharacteristically full because of a Fall orientation session at the college. No worries, as there were plenty of spots at the bike rack.

Part of my normal bike commute day is to ride downtown for lunch where there are several good places to eat. With my truck, parking downtown and parking back at work after lunch are both difficult, so I rarely move it once I arrive in the AM. The bicycle gives me freedom to get away from my usual 2 or 3 places near my office. Today it was Grand Traverse Pie!

Leaves in Bike Lane

Leaves in Bike Lane

The bike lanes all around Traverse City are covered in leaves, leaf bags, and branches as part of spring yard cleaning. I’m hoping the city will pick these up soon so we get our lanes back.

In mid afternoon I rode to my haircut appointment. This involved a mile or so on busy streets with leaf covered bike lanes, and the rest on the Boardman Lake Trail. This trail is a quiet and smooth path around the north and west of the lake, ending at 16th street. I passed several senior citizens out for a spin.

After the haircut I retired to the neighboring bar and their WiFi to finish my work day. (Don’t tell my boss!) Then I rode back to my truck and drove home.

Now that the seal is broken on a new bike commute season, let’s all hit the road!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Breaking the Seal

Another Trip – Another Ride

9 Inches of Snow

Still too much cold and snow for bike riding in northern Michigan, but my trip last week to San Diego gave me a few opportunities.

I was in town for work, but found time for cycling at each end of my stay. On Sunday I decided to try the city’s bike share system while looking for a hat shop I had heard about.

Discover Bike Dock

There are two options for bicycle renting in the downtown area. The official bike share setup is sponsored by Discover and features docking stations all over town. Like similar systems in other cities, one sets up an account, unlocks a bike, rides, then returns the bike to a station close to the destination.

Dockless Rental Bikes

Another choice is the several companies offering dockless rentals. The bicycles are scattered all over, found on most corners downtown. Using a smartphone app, the rider scans a QR code to unlock the bike. After riding, the bicycle can be left anywhere for the next rider. (One morning I saw a crew with a truck moving bikes to best spots for the new day.)

I tried the Discover bike share first. It was easy to setup my account with credit card and email address. However, my attempt to unlock a bike failed. Since I didn’t want multiple charges on my card with no ride, I tried the dockless bike next.

After installing the app, it was easy to setup the account, scan a bike, and start riding. After a short ride over bike lanes and shared traffic lanes I arrived at my shop and ended the rental.

For the trip back, I decided to try the little scooters the company also offered. Not much bigger than a Razor scooter, this electric powered little guy was easy to ride on both streets and sidewalks as needed. I stopped at a Ralph’s grocery store to get a deli sandwich for lunch.

One evening during my conference I tried one of the dockless bikes with electric assist. Since I was late for a meeting, this made my short trip quick and easy with minimal sweat.

My final ride in San Diego was more planned and relaxed. Taking a Lyft across the Coronado Bay Bridge, I arrived at a bike shop that rented beach cruisers. Big wide handlebars, a wire basket, and balloon tires made for a comfy, slow trip around Coronado Island.

Coronado Bike Lane

San Diego Skyline

Naval Base

Speed Racer!

Dog Beach

My trip included a stop at Dog Beach, where pooches were running around having a ball. Would like to take my pup there some day.

Irish Pub Dinner

After returning the bicycle at the shop, I retired to the Irish pub just around the corner (I planned this trip well) for some water, an adult beverage, and a greasy burger.

I have no more trips to warm locales planned this Spring, so I hope the weather gets more agreeable to bike rides here at home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Another Trip – Another Ride

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)











Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on First Ride of 2018 – in New Orleans

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on No Trespassing

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tour de Tart 2017

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Independence Day Ride

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on First Ride of 2017

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:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Helmets Are Bad for Us?

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Rare Michigan Summer Day (in September)

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Smart Commute Week