Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Ride of 2010

Today's high climbed into the mid 50's, a rare, but very welcome treat for this time of year. I got off to a late start, after 3:00pm, and I had no route planned, except to follow the front wheel.

There was a vibrant and aggressive southwest wind, so I headed south into the wind, hoping the wind wouldn't change direction on my way back north (it happens to me quite often). I headed down through the Amish neighborhood south of Grabill, IN. This Amish dairy always looks tidy and prosperous.

Some gravelly goodness. Fortunately, the road is still frozen, just the very surface is thawed, making a very firm and non-slippery ride. I took the studded Nokian tires off so I could make better time.

I wound south to North River Road, back under I-469. This stretch of 469 has been renamed "Ronald Reagan Expressway", a distinction bestowed upon the road by our dubious and former congressman Mark Souder. Personally, I can think of some better names for the highway. Ronald Reagan has only been to this area once, and that was during the great flood of 1982.

The Maumee River east of New Haven.

Here's the entrance to the Rivergreenway at New Haven. Intersection of Landin Road and Lake Avenue Extended.

Maplecrest Road is being extended across the Maumee River to make a vital connection to New Haven. This will cut travel time for folks on the northeast side of Fort Wayne from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. In the meantime, the Greenway is useless from this point east all the way to Coliseum Boulevard. Why the city doesn't include temporary re-routing plans into the bridge construction is beyond me.

Getting back to the greenway involves riding through many parking lots. It's safer riding on busy Coliseum Blvd., a 6 lane freeway, than it is riding through all of these parking lots.

Ahh, back on the trail along the Maumee.
The filtration plant for Fort Wayne. The city takes river water, cleans it up here, and pumps it throughout the town.

This fellow, a Jesuit Priest who was supposedly the first European in this area, is pointing directly to the confluence of the St. Marys and St Joseph Rivers. Where the meet is the start of the Maumee River.
The St. Marys is there to the far right, behind those bushes. Just before the bridge is the beginning of the Maumee River, the conduit which directs all surface water in this area to Toledo, OH, and Lake Erie.

Here's the location for tomorrow's Polar Bear plunge. No snow, no ice. Should be pleasant.
The dam on the St. Joe just upstream from Johnny Appleseed Park.

Under Coliseum Blvd. to the Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne campus.

Up the hill to Shoaff Park. With quickly waning daylight, I chose to ride faster and not take anymore photos. Still 7 miles to go at this point.

The warm weather was sure welcome. The temperature is dropping slowly now, and will continue to do so until Monday. High temp of 20 on Monday, a normal high.

I hope all of you folks had a great 2010, I really did. My family and friends are healthy, happy, most are employed, although a nephew is Afghanistan and we wish him a safe stay until his return in July.

Be safe out there, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Biking on The St Joe River

It's been cold here with little snow for the last 3 weeks. As such, liquid places, like lakes, ponds, and rivers have developed a nice, deep crusty surface.

The St. Joe River, near my home is well-frozen, with about 1 to 1 1/2" of powdery snow on top. Perfect for an ice ride. I rode a little bit on the river last year, but ice conditions weren't good with a couple of big snows delaying good freezing conditions and making biking through the deep snow on the ice difficult.

Not so today. I rode 6 miles on the river upstream from Leo, IN, to just south of Spencerville, IN. Unfortunately, my rechargeable camera battery didn't have enough juice to record the event, but I was able to take a crappy photo with my old cell phone.

The 4-wheelers and snowmobilers (and 1 dirt bike) have been out on the river, snow I knew the ice was safe. What I didn't expect was the quiet, peaceful, and easy ride made possible with no traffic whatsoever. Alex and I have canoed this stretch of river, so the landmarks were familiar, but looked different sitting so high above the water, er, ice.

The river is a great place to see birds, and today was no different. I saw 4 red tailed hawks and 1 great blue heron. The heron must be getting food from some of the holes in the ice where creeks flow into the river. I saw some heron foot prints in the snow, but didn't believe there would still be a heron hanging around. Silly beast!

Anyway, we don't have any significant snow in the 10-day forecast, so I'm excited about some ice bikin'.

An an unrelated note, my daughter, Georgia, announced she will be swimming with the Polar Bears on New Year's Day. She has made her mother and I so proud!

Happy riding!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rides for 2011

These long dark evenings have me thinking about what bike rides, organized or not, I'd like to do for 2011. Here are some of the thoughts that bubbled up.

Multi-day cross-state rides appeal to me because I will be able to say I rode across such-and-such state. I rode across Indiana last July, but that was a one-day event. I've been thinking about a fatter state, like Iowa or Kansas, or traveling the length of a state like Wisconsin.

Loop rides lasting several days are appealing also, like the Tour de Kota, or the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, or riding around the Finger Lakes region in New York.

I like destination rides also, like riding to the Michigan state line (done that many, many times). For some strange reason, I've always wanted to ride to Toledo, Ohio, which isn't too far away, I've just never ridden there before. I'd stop and eat a couple dogs from Tony Packo's. I've always wanted to ride to the Mackinac Bridge, and to Wausau, Wisconsin, where we used to live.

All of these rides are not very far away from me, but I'd be willing to travel for a good ride. The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour sounds cool, but I have no experience riding in the mountains, and I'm afraid a ride like that would kill me.

If you know of any bike rides of any kind you have enjoyed, please let me know.

Happy riding!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Long Winter Nights

The long, dark nights usually trigger in me a need to become obsessed about something, but this winter it really hasn't hit me yet. Last winter I spent much time researching and reading about the Erie Canals - the Wabash & Erie Canal in Indiana, the Miami & Erie Canal in Ohio, and the original Erie Canal across New York state.

The winter before last I spent a lot of time reading about riding long distances - mainly centuries and longer and finding new trails to ride my bike.

This winter, maybe I'm more obsessed about losing weight than I want to admit. I have many reasons for wanting to lose weight. One of the things that inspired me to lose weight was this book:

published by Marlowe & Company in New York.

I'm not going to give you a book report here, but three things I like about the book are,

1) the book has a lot of good, useful information about the health and mind aspects of bicycling,

2) there are 12 in-depth interviews with notable cyclists ranging from 90+ year-old John Sinibaldi to "The Reverend" Rich White, with interviews of more famous cyclists in between, and

3) the authors are both accomplished cyclists who love cycling (not because they were great at it, although they both were) and it is evident in the way they put the book together.

I almost never buy books, since we have a fantastic library system here in Allen County (oh, by the way, my wife works there!) and they have literally millions of books. If they don't have a book, they will seek the book from another library system for me, or I can request that they purchase the book I want for the library.

I bought this book, though, and I paid the full price $16.95. Only when I was in college 26 years ago did I pay more for a book. You should be getting the idea by now that I liked the book.

'Nuff said.

On the weight-front, I've lost 24 lbs now since Oct 1, and I'm still losing. Nineteen more pounds to go and I'll be smack dab in the middle of my ideal weight range. Quite honestly, I'm surprised I've made it this far. My love of food usually consumed the majority of my conscious thoughts. Lately I've been excited about finding new belt loop holes I haven't used for a very, very long time. And getting comments from people who say, "you've lost weight!"

I've even started running again, although I'm taking it very slow and easy. My knees ain't what they used to be. But with less weight to push around, it's remarkable how happy they've been over the past month.

I haven't biked for the last two weeks, but that's going to change soon. Tonight I'm putting the Haakapaliittas on the Tricross for some winter biking. I'm feeling the need to begin commuting to work again, although 20 miles each way in the dark on icy, snowy roads doesn't seem like a sane thing to do. I've scouted out some more park-and-ride spots where I might get away with parking my truck part way to work, then I can bike the rest.

Anyways, enough about me.

If you can't get out and ride, at least day-dream a happy bike ride!

Monday, November 29, 2010

There's Still Breath on the Mirror.

I wanted to post something to let folks know I still exist, kind of like the way I breathe onto the bathroom mirror in the mornings to prove to myself I'm still here. There's less of me here though - 21 lbs less, since I started serious food monitoring with help from my friends at Spark People about 6 weeks ago.

I'm about 1/2 way to my goal of 200 lbs, which is about my ideal weight for my height, according to various sources. Right now I wish I was about 6 inches taller, then I'd be at my ideal weight already.

Anyway, I made it through two Thanksgiving dinners, and actually lost 2 lbs last week, mainly by eating much smaller portions than I would have otherwise. The thing I like about the diet is that I'm not starving myself - I keep track of the amount of carbs, fats, and proteins using the Nutrition Page on Spark People. I'm consistently eating 2,000 calories per day, which coupled with regular exercise is erasing pounds. I've found that I get cranky (that's what my wife says anyway) if I don't eat on time. And the menu I follow is loaded with fresh fruits and veggies, which I like anyway.

I'm trying to not sound holier-than-thou, and I'm trying not to brag. I'm simply amazed that I've been able to lose this much weight after years of exercising until I can't move anymore, or going for days without eating much, only to give up and eat three Big Macs at once. But it's not about intensive, pain-inducing exertion or starving myself. I just didn't know how to eat.

I realize that in order to keep this weight off, I'll need to continue watching what I eat. Probably forever. But I feel better about this idea since I know more now about eating smaller meals at regular times. And I don't get uncomfortably hungry.

On a side note, I've been feeling better than I have in a long time. I'm playing the best disc golf I've ever played, and I even got a hole-in-one two weeks ago. I have loads of energy, even at the end of a long day of disc golf.

Still biking only 2 - 3 times per week, and not that exciting, with cold temps and wind and grey skies. I am enjoying reading all your bike blogs out there (even if I don't leave a comment) - keep up the good work!

Happy riding!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Bike, Snow Report, Eggshells, and Other Miscellany

In my previous post I said I was going to take a break from biking. And I did. For about a week, then I hopped back on the bike and have been riding regularly since then, albeit at a leisurely pace. I even commuted to work (20 miles each way), and I stopped to take this photo on Wednesday night.

For the past week we've had beautiful weather, with sunshine and highs in the 50's and 60's. Last Saturday we awoke to our first snow, but it was just a dusting which quickly melted. The snow in northern Wisco and Michigan that fell yesterday didn't get us, but we have abundant wind and cold air today. Will make for a cold, slow ride this afternoon.

Several weeks back, Myles blogged about using eggshells in his coffee. Last week, after I used a couple of eggs, I washed out the eggshells using my fingers to scrub away the membrane from the shell under running water. I let the shells dry overnight, then ground them up in my coffee grinder the next morning. You know that smell when the dentist drills your tooth to prepare for filling a cavity? That's the smell that emanated from the grinder.

I added those ground up shells to my freshly ground Meijer (a regional big box discount store) coffee, and made a pot of fresh coffee. I must say, I didn't like the coffee at all. I kept thinking of the dentist with every sip. I really like my dentist, but I don't want him messing around with my coffee. I think if I was making cowboy coffee, adding finely-broken eggshells would probably help settle the grounds and make the coffee taste better, but I don't recommend using a coffee grinder to process your eggshells.

On the weight-loss front, I've lost 17 lbs since early October by following the Spark People plan. I've used dieting to lose weight before, but I never knew what I should be eating. My previous diets were primarily lettuce salads, rice, and bananas. But the spark people plan gives a detailed menu each day, and lists the grams of carbs, fat, and protein for each menu item, so I can easily track how much I've eaten for each meal and each snack. In addition to the food plan, there is a fitness plan that is very helpful also. All this is free, which is the best deal I've had in a long time.

A couple of things I've learned is that I have been mistaking the empty stomach feeling for hunger, and that eating "healthy" food doesn't make up for eating crappy food. I'm learning that food should be treated as fuel for the body, not for an emotional treat to help me feel better.

Something I don't think I've mentioned much before is that I spend a great deal of time playing disc golf. Yesterday I got my first hole-in-one after seven years of playing. In addition, my disc golf buddy Paul and I tied the course record for best-disc doubles, so yesterday was a great day.

Happy riding!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Off the Bike

After the last club ride (you remember, the one where I couldn't keep up and was left with 25 miles to ride on my own with sore legs and a headwind?) I got to thinking about what I needed to do to be able to ride faster. Or at least less slow.

Maybe a new, lighter bike? New tires? More speed work? These dang shorts are sure uncomfortable. And this jersey is too tight. Why did I buy biking clothes that are too small?

So, for the past two weeks, I've been dieting, using the Spark People diet and fitness plan. Mainly because it was cheap (free, actually). But it seems to be working. I've lost 9 lbs without trying too hard. But I have been exercising at least 5 times a week, mostly walking, weights, and elliptical trainer at the gym. But not too much biking.

I plan to do more biking, but plan to limit my biking to no more than 50 - 75 miles per week until I lose another 30 lbs, which should be sometime in January. Then I plan to do as much outside riding as weather will permit, and ride the trainer a few times a week inside.

I'll post periodic updates. Wish me luck!

Happy riding!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Colors, Smackdown, and Looks Like I Picked a Bad Week

You'd think that having been a forester for 26 years would make me a shoe-in for RANTWICK's Autumn Tree Smackdown. I haven't been able to find any Smackdown-worthy trees since the contest began. I decided today I'd better get out and try to find some colorful trees before the leaves are all gone.

These trees aren't too bad, but look at the big tree to the left. We're losing our leaves, man, and they're going fast.

A green tree and one with color. We've had many frosts, but only one mild freeze so far. Most of the trees with green leaves (mainly oaks) are turning brown. In some years oaks can show beautiful color, particularly white oak, which can turn a magnificent deep purple color. Not this year.

A very nice sugar maple, but not much red.

Here are our sugar maples. Not too much color this year. The tree closest to the road usually turns yellow, whereas the big maple to the left turns a beautiful reddish orange, but apparently not this year.

Me and the tricross. It is a beautiful day today. I should have taken a photo of myself yesterday - I was a lovely red color.

Yesterday's club ride was a blazing fast 50 miler, but I rode 5 miles to the start, and 5 miles home, so my ride was 60. After riding 35 miles in the pack, I couldn't keep up anymore with the group. As we headed southwest and directly into the wind, I was looking at the prospect of 2 hours of misery. As I plodded along, I pondered the reason for my lack of energy. This past week, I decided to:

- limit myself to no more than 3 cups of coffee per day

- started working out at the gym again (my eye lids are the only body parts that aren't sore right now)

- started a new diet plan at SparkPeople

Looks like I picked a bad week to do all of these things, and then go balls-out for 60 miles.

Seems like I've heard that somewhere before...

Well, I hope you have lactic acid-free rides!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trip to Bike Heaven

The forecast for a cold, rainy day made up my mind - I didn't do the club ride this morning. Instead, I headed down toward New Bremen and my new discovery, the Bicycle Museum of America.

On the way to New Bremen, I stopped by nearby St. Marys, Ohio, to look at remnants of the Miami & Erie Canal. Side note - there is no apostrophe in St. Marys, but I can't tell you why that is. St. Marys is a small town on the edge of Grand Lake St. Marys, a reservoir created in the early 1800's to supply water for the canal. Present-day downtown St. Marys is a quaint place.

The City of St. Marys has restored a portion of the canal, and has built a two-block stretch of brick-paved trail along side it. Here's a replica canal packet, a boat specially designed for canal travel, hauling people, livestock, grain, and other supplies north and south (and a little bit farther north, both east and west).

An interesting side note is Grand Lake was built by damming the St. Marys River, which flows northwest into Fort Wayne, emptying into the Maumee River and heading to Lake Erie at Toledo. On the very edge of the sub-continental divide, water from the lake flows by gravity into the canal, then heads both north to Lake Erie, and south to the Ohio River (then down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico). This lock allows canal packets to be raised or lowered, depending on the direction of travel.

The canal system in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana allowed the fledgling United States transport people west across the Appalachian Mountains, and to transport grain and other commodities from the west to the east. George Washington was convinced that without opening up a travel corridor from east to west, the new territories west of the mountains would become separate countries.

Of dubious distinction, thousands of native Americans were relocated from the Indiana Territory, traveling through this very lock on their way from their home in Indiana south to the Ohio River, west to St. Louis, then on wagons and on foot west to Oklahoma. While some of the Miami people stayed in Indiana, only those who left Indiana and survived the journey to Oklahoma (and their descendants) were granted tribal status by the US Government. Those descendants in Indiana today still do not have federal tribal recognition.

The next town south on the canal is New Bremen. Home to the Bicycle Museum of America. The museum was created to house the vast bike collection of Jim Dicke, owner of the Crown Equipment Corporation.

According to museum staff, Mr. Dicke purchased a sizable collection of Schwinn bikes from the Schwinn Corporation in Chicago. Much of this room is dedicated to Schwinn bikes.

This bike caught my eye immediately. It's one of 70 Schwinn bikes made by Waterford Precision Cycles for Schwinn's 70th anniversary. Oh, those are Campy Record components. Nice bike. Chromed lugs. How do they do that?

A perfect place to be on a rainy day!

Check out the crank on this bike! Alfred Letourner set the speed record on this bike in 1941 - 108.92 mph! He drafted behind a modified race car. Still, quite a feat. For every 1 revolution of the crank, the wheel revolves 9.5 times.

The second floor was a deluge of bikes. Many notable bike styles from the 1940's to the present are up here.

Another view upstairs. One small side room caught my eye, and I apologize for not getting a photo there. In the small room were a couple touring bikes with stories attached of their rider's journeys across the US. All local people.

After spending several hours looking at all of the bikes, I said goodbye to two of the curators standing near the front door. They asked if I had seen the basement yet. "Basement? Why no. You have a basement?" said I.

One of the fellows led me to the basement where he explained about the collection. The bikes in the basement are there because there is not enough room upstairs to display them.

This Raleigh Twenty is a fairly new acquisition and is being carefully cleaned. I got a kick out of the license stickers.

This cool bike was made by the Commercial Bicycle Company.

Several of these old bikes have the same model Brooks saddle I received for Christmas last year. While my Brooks is new, it is made exactly like these saddles 70 to 80 years ago.

So many bikes.

There are many older bikes in this room that are city bikes before there were city bikes. Made in England, France, and Germany, the city bikes are really well-built. With a quick clean up, most of these bikes are ready to ride. I tried to take a couple photos, but the bikes are so closely packed together I couldn't get any good closeup shots that were easy to see what I was trying to photograph. There were a lot of American bikes down here also, a few brought back some memories from when I was younger.

I will definitely return. This place is cool.

Today there was to be a high wheeler demonstration, but the rider was no where to be found. It was a crummy day.

Hope all of you are able to get out and ride.

Happy riding!