Friday, May 27, 2016

Spring is a great time for the North fork of the Wabash-Cannonball Trail!

     If there was a pick day of the season so far, I would say last Sunday was definitely it:)  Getting out on my bike was a no-brainer.  This would be the first time this season I would ride on the north fork of the Wabash Cannonball trail.  The South fork is mostly corn fields and blazing sun, so I usually like to save that for fall.

     This time I rode with a new riding buddy, Mitch, who is also a fellow "Bike To The Bay" rider.  By now all of my other riding buddies know the routine, quirks and all.  It's not a ride without pictures. I like to think of myself as an amateur Photographer (wanna-be).  But Mitch still had to be schooled a bit...

     Of course I gave him two options, he could prepare to make several slow downs and stops, or he could carry the camera and take pictures as they present themselves.  Being that he's a seasoned rider, I think he thought holding the camera was the lesser of the two evils.

     We hadn't gone very far  before I saw some awesome pink flowers growing out of the rocks along the side of a bridge.  Normally I would yell "STOP", I would take the picture and we would continue on.  But Mitch had the camera, so I yelled "TAKE A PICTURE OF THOSE..." Never mind, we're past them... 

     And as you can see, on the other side there were no flowers:(  Oh well, maybe on the way back:) 

     At one point the trail was peppered with bright pink flowers on both sides, but by the time Mitch pulled the camera out we were past them.  Oh well, maybe on the way back...
       We did see a photo worthy view at one point and Mitch said how about this?  Sure, it wasn't pink flowers, but it was a cool picture, and proof that spring was here:)

        And this tree was ripped out of the ground at the roots from a recent storm;  That picture was Mitch's call, but very interesting to see none the less.

     As we were riding a little further, Mitch stopped and said "hold on, I saw a turtle on the trail back there".  So he rode back to rescue it.  I never saw the turtle, but I trust it must have been there.  Could I really have been so consumed with the scenery that I almost ran over a giant tortoise?!?  Guess I need to focus...

     But as soon as Mitch bent down to rescue the poor little guy I yelled "WAIT", TAKE A PICTURE!!"
     Okay, it wasn't a giant tortoise, but this poor little guy sure looked fearful for his life. 
     Notice in this close up, he made sure to pull every extremity back into his shell.  He had his own personal storm shelter.

     We finally made it back to that bridge and there was no way we were passing it again with out a picture of those pink flowers.

     I know you're probably wondering why I'm riding on the wrong side of the trail (if we were in Europe no one would even think twice), but  while we captured the flowers I figured I may as well have proof I was actually riding by getting in the picture:)  Illegally, but at least I'm riding!!

     The ride ended up being just under 20 miles, and the good news is, we rode non-stop for ten miles each way.  The Bike To The Bay has rest stops about every ten miles, so I know I'll be ready:)  On the way back however, I did have to shake the feeling back into my hands, but I survived...

      My bike rides, as well as my life in general, can tend to be complicated.  I'll be the first to admit I'm a high maintenance rider.  But all the pictures make me happy, and having someone spot for me is huge.  I've just excepted the fact that improvising is my way of coping.  Incidentally, all of my riding buddies know this by now and have graciously accepted it.  I'm very fortunate to have such great friends.  

     Mitch made it through his first high maintenance ride unscathed, and If I haven't scared him off, the next time should be a breeze!!

Have a great day!!


Friday, May 20, 2016

This ride of silence was a good way to raise awareness; but could I really be silent the whole time??


      For the past eight years there has been an annual ride that takes place around the country in remembrance of the cyclists who have lost their lives in a traffic accident.  It's a way of keeping their memory alive while raising awareness for cyclists safety on the roads as well as reminding motorists to be mindful to cyclists.

     This ride is very somber because of the unfortunate fatalities, and my smile would seem to be counter intuitive. But the fact that we are able to raise awareness is reason for me to celebrate.

      The biggest challenge however, for me, is that it is a memorial ride and in total silence.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that is very hard for me.  But I really wanted to do this for the sake of the riders who lost their lives doing something we all love.  I mentioned to several people that I was doing this ride and they all thought there was no way that was possible...Guess we'll see:)  

     So the evening of the ride we all met at the University of Toledo.  Until we actually started the ride I was free to talk, so it was like taking my last breath...

     It was very unfortunate that lives were lost, but it was amazing to see the community come come together in memory of all those cyclists.

   The Toledo Police, as well as the Ottawa Hills Police, escorted the entire ride; some on bicycles, some on motorcycles, and others in squad cars blocking traffic.

        I know this was the ride of silence, but I'm not gonna lie; It was a real test of will power to ride ten miles with out saying a word.

     The first place we rode to was Ottawa Hills High School, where one of the riders who lost his life had taught.
     From there we went to Toledo Children's Hospital.  I took out my camera to take a couple of pictures, and by the time I put it away and started back up I found myself at the very tail end of the pack.  

     At first I was a little worried that my riding buddies were all up ahead and if something was to happen I was on my own.  But just then I noticed that the two riders right ahead of me were Toledo Police Officers, and I looked in my helmet mirror and noticed two Police Officers on motorcycles right behind me.  I don't think I have ever felt safer riding.  In fact, I kind of felt like I had my own motorcade.  I could get used to this:)

      I've never felt extremely comfortable riding on city streets with traffic, but this ride taught me a few things; I will certainly be very considerate of cyclists when I'm driving, I will also be conscious of motorists when I'm riding, but most of all I think if we are all conscious of each other on the road, we'll find out there's plenty of room for all of us:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, May 13, 2016

My two loves wrapped up in one.

     Well, the Bike To The Bay is really sneaking up on me, and I realized I better start putting my training into high gear if I want to be ready for the ride.

     By this time last year I would have been on many bike trails, but because of our crazy weather I've only been on a few.  But more than anything I needed to build my confidence back up on all of the challenges that come with bike riding.  And with the new season it feels like I'm starting all over again. What I really needed was to get over the fears of the steep inclines and uneven surfaces that I so often face on trails.  

     What better bike trail to do this on then Ottawa Park.  This trail is practically a hundred years old (at least it looks like it)  and it definitely gave me a run for my money.

     I've passed this sign in the previous times I've been on this trail, but it's usually later in the season when I've had a chance to build up my confidence.

        But no matter how many times I ride down this hill I don't know if I'll ever actually feel comfortable on it.  And I'm still green for the season as it is.
         If this hill looks steep to you, I swear it gets steeper every time I ride it.  I ride the brakes the whole way down, and pray I don't flip over the handlebars in the process.
          Then this rickety old wooden bridge has seen better days, and there was no way we were riding over this three inch lip.  If our tires slipped we would end up in the creek, so we walked them over...
     This ancient tree was so big, and when it fell across the trail it was too big to move, so they simply sawed through it to clear the path.
     Notice the sign behind me; it says "service road. Not open to traffic."  We were only on bikes and I didn't think they Meant us.

     My riding buddy, Robert, Knows all of the trails well and I asked him if that road would be a good change of pace from the skinny bike trail.  He thought that was a great idea!
     This trail was so much wider; I was wondering why we weren't on it all along... 
But, while Robert knows all about bike trails, he's not a golfer.  However, golf was my first love and this was no longer a bike trail!  It was Ottawa Park Golf Course!  Oops!!

     Next thing I knew, we were riding smack dab between the fairway and the green.  I'm sure if there were any golfers around they would be saying "WHAT THE HECK?!?!"  I now know why it said "service road, not open to traffic"; live and learn...

     But then again, I guess this was a way for me to combine my first and second love into one outing.  I'm not going to lie... I would have loved to have picked up a club and given it a crack just then.  But this was a bike ride, and it was time to head back to the trail...

     So I'm one trail closer to being ready for the Bike To The Bay; though I still have quite a ways to go.  I honestly don't think I'll actually ever be ready for that long grueling ride; but that doesn't stop me from doing it:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, May 6, 2016

Side by side the list of "CANS" is much bigger than "CAN'TS"!

     Life may be complicated, but I have to admit, one of the easiest things to do is make up excuses.  Too hot, too cold, too dark, too light, too heavy, too far... the list goes on and on.

     But this weekend I was going to get on my bike, come hell or high water... Luckily I only had to face the latter:)

     The funny thing about me and excuses is, I anticipate a possible excuse, and execute my back up plan, just in case I decide to play that card.  

     Last Saturday was cold and rainy, but I was confident Sunday would be the day I rode.  However, Sunday morning I got up and saw the raindrops hitting the puddles from the downpour the day before.

    But I told myself I was going to ride, and I meant it!  There were a few of us that planned to ride, weather permitting, but in the event we all came up with the excuse that it's too cold and too wet, I knew I better do my workout just in case... and so I did...

     The plan was to meet on the other side of the Maumee River, just outside of Downtown Toledo; at international park.  As you'll notice, when I arrived I could see a million reasons why I didn't want to ride.  It was 53 degrees, cloudy, and puddles everywhere. Okay, so maybe not a million, but enough to present my case:)
     If no one else showed up then I was home free, because I know riding by myself isn't safe; that's just silly!!

     But it wasn't long before my first riding buddy, Robert, came riding up. His bike is his usual mode of transportation, in spite of his MS. He also rides on team Leapfrog, and even further than I do. Robert proceeds to tell me he had three others who decided it wasn't a good day to ride.  But I was there, so I figured I may as well do this.
     As I was feeling pretty proud of myself, riding in spite of already working out that morning, all while inside a body that felt like cement, because of my MS,  (damp weather does that to me) I became humbled very quickly when I started thinking about all of the excuses Robert could have made up...

 He rode his recumbent bike through downtown Toledo, as I pulled up in my car. 

        He modified his pedals on his bike to fit his bare feet, because his MS causes him to not feel them with his shoes on.  And just recently he added this AFO device to his right pedal to keep his foot from slipping off.
          If I used all of the excuses I have up my sleeve of why I can't ride, I wouldn't have seen that this was a very pleasant day for a ride after all.  
          I mean, it isn't often you see the high level bridge from this angle.
     And it also gave us a chance to test our skills on this VERY tight corner...

     And it was fun getting a little history lesson in, as we rode past the Willis B. Boyer, that was docked on the Maumee river.
       And I discovered the geese aren't just at Olander Park; I wonder if they're following me, just to see how crazy I can be.

     I want to tell them I'm not as crazy as this guy, who rides his bike in his bare feet through puddles and 50 degree weather... 
     But I guess it goes to show you... You can make excuses, or you can make it happen.

          So as you stare at that list of great excuses of why you can't do something... start making that list of all the things you CAN do... I think you'll see it's much, much bigger!!

Have a great day!!