A heart-felt THANK YOU and major kudos to everyone who made this year’s Exhale Fall Charity Ride such an amazing success!!!
Together you all helped to raise over $11,000 toward JDRF’s efforts to end juvenile diabetes!!! Wow!!!
We really can’t thank you enough!!!
We’re estimating somewhere on the order of 180 riders, which is based on 154 pre-registrations (some being multi-registrant, some being donation-only), and 43 in-person registrations. There were 122 confirmed via Strava, but many many participants aren’t on Strava.
Whatever the actual number of riders it was a record-breaking event on multiple levels!
Thanks again to everyone!
Now, let’s get back to training every day all year for next year’s event! 😉
Back by popular demand the annual Woodward Loop Ride will take place this year this Sunday following the same format as in the past. We will head out in two waves the first at 7:30 am from Shain Park in Birmingham for a north Woodward Loop up to and around the famous Widetrack Drive in Pontiac. We hold an 18 mph pace on the uphill portion of the ride to Pontiac but then swing south and once we cross the tracks I’ll openup the gates and riders can zip at any speed they wish back to Shain Park. I’ll bring up therear. This is about an 18 mile section of the ride. We follow the laws, stop at lights and enjoy the famous road with very low traffic on Sunday morning. The second wave is from Shain Park again starting at 8:30 am. The pace is more recreational now at 16 to 18 mph but it is flat and relatively downhill to Detroit. We take off of Woodward before we get to the Q-line tracks and will pose for another Iconic Photo Image for your memory book. Some riders may then break off for a fast lap at Belle Isle but otherwisewe head north with a rest stop along the way. This will again be a fundraiser for Michigan Youth Cycling a scholarship program for young riders/racers. Many of our recipients are from the Lexus Velodrome and the IVBP and middle school and high school mountain bike racers. Suggested donations of $20.00 are appreciated and any amount will be put to the fund. This is one of the “must do” rides in the Detroit area. We hope you can join us!
Heads up! EJ Levy VP: Cadieux Bicycle Club Directeur Sportif: Motive Force
This trip started out with the best of intentions, as any multi-state tandem bicycle vacation would when attempted by inexperienced tandem bicyclists with absolutely no bicycle traveling experience. And, aside from the hail storms, falling trees, extreme sunburn, gravel wipeouts, and occasional need to bushwhack, it was pretty uneventful.
Day 1 – Pontiac to Marshall, MI
110 Miles, 8:20:36 Moving Time, 11:56:03 Elapsed
In planning the trip, we relied heavily on Google’s bicycle routes to give us an idea of where to travel and stop for the night. Google does a decent job of finding trails wherever possible with suitable connectors between them. We decided – er, actually I decided (and if I use the phrase “we decided” again, you can safely assume I’m using the Royal “we”) that the best way to start a week-plus bicycle trip was by cramming as much mileage into the first day as physically possible. The route started out easy enough. The Clinton River Trail begins just a few hundred yards from our apartment, and we were able to ride on paved and hard-pack trails for the most part all the way to South Lyon. From there, Google directed us towards our first unfamiliar trail, the Lakelands Trail State Park trail. And so began our first adventure. For anyone interested in riding this trail, please note that it begins in someone’s private driveway. We ended up on a front lawn going in circles until two gentleman with hedge clippers beckoned us towards the small hole in the hedge that was the trailhead, and said it was only “bad” for a few hundred yards, and shortly after turned to pavement. Leon must’ve been feeling brave/caffeinated because we actually attempted to ride this – until the downed trees forced us to dismount:
But we got through, and bam – pavement! Weirdest thing ever.
This trail continues through Pinckney and Gregory, ending in Stockbridge. It’s paved – and beautiful – until Pinckney. Thereafter, it’s a mixture of these weird, black sand “moguls” (kinda fun, actually), followed by heavily-traveled horse trails. Between the hoof craters and ever-present turds, we bailed on the trail just east of Gregory, which was fine because the country roads had decent shoulders and the prick-to-sane driver ratio had dropped considerably since leaving Oakland County.
The day continued pretty smoothly – beautiful weather, a bit of a tail wind – but it started to get long. By 4pm, we were about 75 miles into the 110 mile day. And, of course, that’s when we started hitting a little elevation.
As most of you know, elevation can suck. Elevation especially sucks with a tandem loaded down with 100 pounds of gear after riding for 5+ hours. As we sidled down towards Marshall, every hill seemed to go directly into a nasty headwind. To distract us, we stopped often, like for these adorable baby sheeps.
It was a good thing too, apparently, as not soon after this little break, we hear what appears to be firewood being thrown in the road. It was in fact a giant branch of dead tree. Had we been a few seconds earlier, we might’ve been writing this from a Jackson hospital. For the rest of the day, we were looking up.
The day wrapped in Marshall with a little Applebees. (Morning me had plans to hit Dark Horse. Evening me said “F**k it, Applebees is 500 yards away from the motel”.)
Day 2 – Through Battle Creek + K-Zoo to South Haven
(starting out the day with the pimp-marked hotel door>
The second day started with a nice tailwind up to Battle Creek’s city bike paths. I didn’t realize the town really *does* smell like cereal – must’ve been working on Cocoa Puffs that day because we were both in a good mood. The Battle Creek path is very scenic and runs along Jackson Street, a nice street for roadies, on the west side. We actually had to detour onto Jackson due to flooding on the path. Google Maps did a good job of running us into Dickman, which is a highway but has a nice, wide shoulder, and runs along a river, so it has rollers but no major hills. Bike shop on the way too (in Augusta). Runs into US-12/Michigan Ave., which is a decent way to get into Kalamazoo.
After a lunch at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, we were off to the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. Now, I was excited about this leg of the journey. The trail, as seen on the map, is a fairly straight shot right into downtown South Haven. It also has the word “River” in it, which may give one the impression that it is also somewhat flat. It’s not. It also goes from nice, fresh asphalt into a peculiar mix of gravel (where it turns into the Kal-Haven Trail) that looks a lot like the CRT between Rochester Road and Dequindre but feels more like marbles on molasses.
(Don’t let this cute train engine at the head of the Kal-Haven trail fool you – it’s a long, hilly, and slow slog.)
We also had a near-miss with Grandma hotrodding in her golfcart. (I wish I had that picture…) Morale was taking a serious hit about 20 miles into riding the damn thing so we bailed the trail again, just in time to come upon this awesome vintage car race.
For the record, South Haven was a fantastic destination. Wonderful views, great B&B, excellent Italian restaurant. We ended up sitting next to one of the teams from the vintage car race. Turns out there *is* a hobby more expensive than bike racing.
Day 3 – Crossing State Lines to Chesterton, IN
All the slow trail riding from the previous day and trying to maintain a certain pace had been kind of a bummer, so we vowed to “take it easy” out of South Haven – leave early, take our time, stop for lunch, etc. The destination was around the southern edge of Lake Michigan and the route that Google had planned for us went well inland, which we thought was silly – I mean, if we just stick to the coast, it’s gotta be flat, right? Oh man, the dunes, the dunes!! One after the other into St. Joseph. We got these awesome beach pics, but at a price my poor husband’s calfs were not prepared to pay. We followed the Blue Star/Red Arrow Highway out of South Haven all the way through St. Jo/Benton Harbor down to New Buffalo. Despite the hills, it was a great bicycle route until it ducks inside I-94 south of St. Joseph. (Unfortunately, there aren’t any real coastal options right there due to the power plant.) After that uncomfortable 10-mile stretch, the wide shoulder returns and the traffic subsides. About 10 miles outside of New Buffalo, there are some back roads well marked as the Lake Michigan Trails that will lead you right into town. Excellent views of the shoreline and swanky rental properties.
Our destination that day was originally Michigan City, IN, but in order to make our “into Chicago” day as short as possible, we decided to fuel up in New Buffalo and soldier on a few extra miles into Chesterton, IN, which was suggested by pretty much everyone we spoke to after telling them our Michigan City plans. From New Buffalo, we followed the scenic and surprisingly safe US-12 pretty much all the way in. The shoulder does shrink when you enter Indiana, but the Sunday evening traffic was virtually non-existant, especially around the Dunes.
The day, which happened to be Cinco de Mayo, ended in spectacular fashion as we pulled into the motel parking lot and saw a Mexican restaurant with a Margarita special ($12 for a 60-ounce!) immediately next door. There is a god, and he loves sour mix.
Day 4 – Arriving in Chicago
We probably spent the most amount of time planning this particular day of the trip. We wanted it to be short for a few reasons. First and foremost, we wanted a full afternoon of stuffing our faces once we arrived in Chicago. Additionally, everyone and their mother had told us “don’t drive through South Side”, so we figured the earlier we do it, the better. But how bad could it be, right?
The beginning of the day was ideal. After slogging over hills the previous days, the Prairie Duneland Trail (which starts in Chesterton), Oak Savannah Trail (picking up in Hobart), and Erie Lackawanna Trail (Griffith to Calumet City) were all paved and flat – on a virtually windless morning. We were in good shape going into South Chicago – so good, in fact, that we skipped breakfast.
So after an unexpected detour and a few wrong turns, we stopped somewhere just off Exchange Ave. and 83rd St., hungry and pissy. (Ok, Leon wasn’t pissy.) We were so bonked, in fact, that we went RIGHT BY the Chicago Velo Campus and didn’t even see it – how embarrassing is that?? After cramming a few bars into our faces, an older gentleman in a very nice car pulls up and asks us if we are out of our damn minds, seeing as we are two dorks on an even dorkier-looking tandem bicycle in a questionable neighborhood. I told him it’s cool – we’re from Detroit (I figured Pontiac didn’t have much street cred there) – but that didn’t deter him from scaring the living shit out of us by describing in detail the lurking rapists and murderous gang bangers waiting for us around the corner. Maybe it was good that we were bonked. Anyways, we made it. I didn’t see any gang bangers. Leon must’ve scared them with his bike bell.
(Chicago over the shoulder pic.)
Shortly after our South Chicago adventure, we were dumped out onto the Lakefront Trail and into a cold, relentless headwind into South Side. Here’s where I have to admit that, uh, I may not have been a completely nice person for a short period of time. So here’s the funny part. We’ve got the Garmin 500 with heart rate monitor. Because Leon doesn’t generally bike hundreds of miles over the course of a week very often, we both had concerns as to whether his heart would quit/explode. So, as a questionably effective but economical solution (potential doctor bill money was shifted into our restaurant budget), Leon wore the heart rate monitor for the trip. However, because he’s busy steering and shifting and stuff, I would be the one watching the Garmin readout. Great idea, right? Still somewhat bonked, I suddenly became very aware of all these things that I’d never noticed so clearly before – how slow to downshift Leon was at the start of an uphill, how he would incessantly brake to avoid accidents, and, most irritatingly, how his heart rate dropped below 120 bpm. It’s hard to admit this, but yes, the words “Are you even f**king pedalling???” did come out of my mouth. That Snickers commercial is right – I was channeling the Goodfellas Pesci for a good hour. Sorry, Leon. I love you.
Anyways, we made it through the Lakefront Headwind Battery Trail just in time for 4pm loop traffic, followed by a happy jaunt up Milwaukee Ave (along the Blue Line) to our hotel in Logan Square. The loop wasn’t bad – if you’re headed north, cutting over the water on La Salle is your best bet because the bridge roadway is fully covered, although most of the bike lanes over the bridges downtown have mats. Bikes are expected in Chicago, so as we traveled up to Logan Square, it wasn’t the cars that annoyed the shit out of me – it was the slow-ass hipsters on their fixies. Ok, I admit I was in a bad mood. Every stoplight was the beginning of a sprint finish. At the end was a giant beer, and these bearded art-school bastards* were in the way.
Cogs & Kegs, Presented by Powers Distributing MIU Men’s Health Foundation Wednesday, June 15, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Birmingham, MI
Partners for the event: Powers Distributing, Griffin Claw Brewery, Germack, American Cycle & Fitness, Wolverine Cycling Club, Cadieux Bicycle Club, and the Astellas Professional Cycling Team.
This should be a fun evening with members of the Astellas Pro Cycling Team. Bikes and Beer for a good cause. The ride will start and finish from Griffin Claw Brewing Company.
A Casual ride (read “not a hammerfest”) with the Astellas guys, then there will be a post-ride celebration hosted by Griffin Claw Brewery that will include a raffle, Q&A with the Astellas Professional Cycling Team.
Supports MIU Men’s Health Foundation.
$30 registration includes a beer and a waterbottle.
Bonus Ride for Volunteers!
Vounteers will have the opportunity to ride with members of the Astellas Team earlier in the day in a volunteer only ride. Sign up to volunteer (https://www.cognitoforms.com/MIUMensHealthFoundation/MIUMensHealthFoundationVolunteerForm)
(Written May 20th, 2013, just two years after I got my first road bike [25 years after exclusively riding a MTB)…
Find a local bike shop you can trust — this isn’t a time to shop online looking for that deep discount, rather it’s a time to find someone who knows what they are doing, has years of experience riding, building, customizing, and upgrading bike components. Find a recommended local bike shop (LBS) that is nearby so you can get advice, service, tuneups, etc. right when you need it.
Ask biking friends who live near you, what LBS they would recommend, and cross-reference with online reviews of the various shops.
It should be pretty clear based on the questions the local bike shop folks ask, whether they are looking to find the bike that is right for you, vs. the one that they stand to make the most profit on — that’s why you seek LBS recommendations from bikers you already know in your area…to establish the trust factor, so you don’t end up on the receiving end of used car salesman tactics.
Sleazy sales tactics can happen in a LBS, but it is much less likely than online — online, they have no way to gauge your needs or your abilities or what will fit you best, even if they have the best intentions. Also, you really don’t want to be faced with the prospect of shipping your bike back to get some little warranty problem resolved. You WANT the relationship with a trustworthy LBS, so you can just stop by and get an adjustment, etc. to reduce your “downtime” when something needs attention.
If you are lucky you will find a LBS / dealer with a certified fitting specialist — proper bike fit is very important to avoid joint and muscle injuries, and for comfort and handling of the bike. Even if your highest recommended and most convenient shop doesn’t have a certified fitter, usually they can recommend another LBS, just for the fitting, then you can still buy from your preferred shop — a fitting is a onetime thing, but the support and regular maintenance and advice is an ongoing thing, so that should come from the highly recommended + convenient LBS.
Don’t skimp on the comfort and I don’t mean a big cushy seat with 10″ foam pad suspended by 6″ springs. 😉 I mean things like quality derailleurs that shift easily so that you don’t have to worry about the chain coming off every time you shift down to come to a stop and shift up while getting going again. You are not going to enjoy riding your grandpa’s 75 year old one speed all-steel-construction “cruiser” nearly as much as you would a lighter-weight bike with modern shifting and braking systems.
If you settle for a heavy bike with shoddy brakes and derrailleurs, you aren’t going to have much fun — and if it is a chore to ride, you’ll lose interest.
Beyond that, whether you want to ride on the road — and the condition of the roads around you vs. total off-road, in between (e.g. multi-use paths) would require more information from you w.r.t. what you might prefer, and what the riding conditions are, where you live.
Here is how that played out for me. YMMV.
I started out with a mountain bike because the roads in Michigan are horrible and because I really enjoy the upper body workout and the “excitement” factor of riding off-road through twisty-turny “single-tracks” in the various state recreation areas around here. That same mountain bike can tolerate anything the Michigan roads can throw at it.
Ultimately, mountain biking can be a FANTASTIC workout…just be prepared to do some strength training on the upper body — the climbs will build strength in your legs, but strength training off-bike will REALLY make a HUGE difference in your ability to handle the bike on switch-back climbs over roots, and also on stair-step and rocky descents. You’ll get stronger and stronger in the upper body, just riding the bike in those conditions, but you can “kick start” your MTB prowess by augmenting your rides with strength training (e.g. gym, bowflex, etc. or just push-ups and pull-ups, and rowing, even).
For over 20 years, mountain biking was been my mainstay, but I also rode the MTB quite a bit ON the road, usually to/from the mountain biking tails. I started to enjoy riding even just for the cardio value, and so I spent more and more hours on the road. I started to wear out the smallest cog on my MTB’s rear cassette because I was racking up many hundreds of miles almost entirely in the fastest gear (smallest rear cog). Also, I was having to hyper-pedal to make any speed — it’s no wonder, because MTB’s are geared with climbing power in mind, not speed, and so while functional, it was certainly not optimal. Wearing out that smallest cog got to be expensive because at the time the rear-cassette I had wasn’t modular, and the whole thing had to be replaced (several times every year), even though only the smallest gear was spent. I recently upgraded my MTB system, so now the smallest cog is replaceable, but unless you ride a lot more miles than you indicated, probably a super high-end setup would be overkill. :-/
Fast forward to the last two years…
All those road miles under suboptimal conditions (e.g. on an MTB) ultimately led me to buy a road bike. At first I considered a cross-trainer, somewhat like a MTB, but not as solid, allowing it to be lighter, and wheels + tires a little beefier than a traditional road bike, but not really very great for anything more exciting than a dirt road in fairly good condition, and not really as speed-optimized as a true road bike. Michigan’s bad roads had me leery of a pure road bike, thinking I wild pop tubes and damage rims on every third mile. :-/
Ultimately w.r.t. road-riding I decided I wasn’t going to “woos” my way into it; rather, I wanted to go cold turkey and get a full-fledged road bike. I figured I would learn to compensate for the poor road conditions and be conservative about uneven pavement, potholes, and especially curbs.
I decided to get the lightest, fastest road bike I could afford, so that I would have the best road riding experience possible. The road bike fulfills my “need for speed” and the mountain bike fulfills my “need for excitement” — the best of both, instead of one bike that isn’t really great at either. I did in fact get an excellent road bike, but despite my best efforts I was plagued with flats almost every ride and sometimes twice. The lesson there was there is such a thing as a training tire and a “race day only” tire. You see, in my quest for speed = quest for featherweight components, I had naively ended up with race-day-only tires, which are absolutely inappropriate for typical Michigan conditions. I switched to GatorSkin Ultra’s, which are only slightly heavier than the racing tires, and I now have a flat maybe once every 500-1000 miles (e.g. once every one to two months) — if you do get a road bike, I highly recommend those GatorSkins, but for weight reasons, get the folding kind (because they lack the heavy steel bead).
But that’s just what worked out for me over the course of the last 22 years. 🙂
You may find that you prefer the fast gazelle experience of a true road-bike, or perhaps your roads really don’t allow that, in which case maybe a cross-over is right for you. Or you may find more enjoyment and excitement in the total-body workout that mountain biking offers.
In the end, your decision will depend on what you prefer, what your body will allow, and the conditions of the roads vs. the accessibility of trails and/or multi-use paths.