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!