Saturday, July 21, 2012

Going too far, too fast, not so good.

I love my bicycle. Riding it is one of pure enjoyment for me. Last weekend, although I felt a bit tired, the length of the trip seemed very managable right up to the end. I didn't really feel anything as far as discomfort until Wednesday. I took short rides during the week of perhaps a couple miles to stay in shape. Some discomfort there but nothing I felt was out of the ordinary. This morning however, I rode close to 15 miles and my legs turned to rubber just like they did on my first stage of the around Lake Michigan experience. All sorts of things are running through my mind, rashional or not it's like a steady stream of goofy stuff: Didn't I warm up enough? Did I mess something up big time last weekend? Is this part of the aging process? Am I drinking enough water or sport drinks? Was it too cool in the early morning darkness for my muscles to stretch properly? I think you get the idea. I'm still in the learning process. I don't know everything yet about my personal endurance capabilities. I think there is a good chance I simply over did and I have to ease my way back into riding again. Some challenges have arisen of late and I'm not quite sure if I can put any more miles in this weekend but I know for sure if I do I'll stop to rest way more often and try to tune into my inner self and when it's telling me to back off, rest or stop entirely for the day. The trip will happen. There is no immovable time line here. If I over extend myself it will take even longer. It's much too enjoyable to make stupid mistakes like that. Being a whole lot younger and having way more time available, walking around almost 50 years ago was a huge success. In order for this to succeed I have to remember those advantages are no longer in effect. In their exuberance, "Mature" people can sometimesa forget that. I am living proof. Ouch, I have to go rub my legs with Ben-Gay. Later.............Joe

Friday, July 20, 2012

Biking towards Mears

Two things today really if you don't mind. First of all a problem arose on Monday afternoon due to someone not hiding my email address when they forwarded some information to another site. My computer received so much spam and other undesirable stuff over the next two days that I had to use another person's computer to get my work done. No time for anything personal. "Bob" the IT guy is working feverishly to flush out the offending electronic matter and we're hoping to have it all fixed by this coming Monday. Of course, "Bob" will walk away with a significant amount of my money. I ask anyone that receives anything from me that can be forwarded for any reason: Please, please use the BCC for multiple mailings. This has not been the first time and it is, quite frankly a pain in the butt.

That brings us to the bike riding I did this weekend past. I was unable to post again on Tuesday as promised so her it goes. Once I get going I am caught in between two goals: riding around Lake Michigan and experiencing what I am riding through. So far I feel I've maintained a reasonable balance. Going North from Montague and through a rather tranquil marshy area the terrain slowly changed around me from flat, sandy, ponds and grassy to somewhat hilly, wooded and enclosed, suddenly opening up onto a flat and spacious series of fertile fields planted with beans, corn straw or hay. Placed strategically amongst the fields were the ages old farm houses, barns and livestock buildings. Single rows of trees every so often to keep the winds in check and differing colorful vegetation arranged in neatly arranged squares took me a little by surprise. During my walk almost 50 years ago I hadn't wandered quite this far from the shoreline. A real treat for the senses. And, of course after the hills and curves of the beginning of the day's ride the flat, smooth and straight roads of this open farm land provided a more relaxing, actually effortless time to simply see, smell and listen to my surroundings. Pleasant to be sure. Cows and a few horses grazed while birds soared above in the blue sky supporting a dozen or so soft, billowing, pure white clouds. As beautiful as this scene was, when I came to a crossroad, I took a hard left back toward the shoreline and the lake itself. The road became narrow and winding in less than a half mile and within a few hundred yards more the hills, curves and overhanging trees returned as I entered the land of vacation cottages and resorts. Once again people were walking and jogging and holding leashes while their pets found interest and relief at the base of trees and bushes. (No hydrants here) The shoulders of the roads were sandy and something to be avoided with my bicycle tires, if I wanted to remain upright that is. Taking a tight curve right placed me onto a sort of causeway between Stony Lake and Lake Michigan. I remembered this place from long ago but the progression of civilization was apparent everywhere. And, boats and slips crowded the shoreline as if a strong wind had blown them together haphazard. Beautiful and busy and packed with humanity. Somehow it all worked out. I road off. Anxious to see around the next turn. Hill, curve, corner, lean left, lean right, another hill, road narrows, ends, another begins and suddenly I am at the base of the sandy hills of Silver Lake sand dunes and the state park nestled in it's shadows. What a magnificent sight those dunes are. Of course, you have to look in between all the tourist attractions and restaurants to get a decent view these days. Everyone I passed seemed to be having a great time. Along the street itself dune buggies and huge off road vehicles were passing, going to or coming from the motor sports part of the park. Lines of vehicles wound towards the center of town. I wondered how they would all fit. Many years ago this was a busy place but far less developed. More like an open free for all, with a cacophony of hand made vehicles that only distantly resembled anything remotely close to what we think of as safe these days. Today everything is roll bars, crash bumpers and seat belts. Almost no one used those things 50 years ago. Using the last vestiges of my strength and stamina from the efforts of the day I road up the winding hill leading away from that magnificent, albeit very touristy and busy area. Looking back over my shoulder often as I went. When will I be here again? What will it look like then? Time will tell. At the top of the hill the road straightened out for a bit dropped to a crossroad and a right turn and I rode up and down hills until my travels ended in quaint, colorful downtown Mears. Very similar in appearance to the town this days ride started in. I was so pooped I was more than ready to go home to the couch and a well deserved nap. Yeah, that nap sounded real good about then. Next time it'll be north towards Ludington if I can make it. My bike riding has taken me 149 mostly shoreline miles so far. Not bad, only about a thousand to go. Sounds more manageable every time I go.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A little farther on the bike trip

Mears! Yup, Mears. That's how far my bicycling has gotten me as of this weekend past. I started at the park between Whitehall and Montegue with the idea that I would take the excellent bike path north. As it was, although the bike path is rather nice in and of itself I chose to ride on the local, shore hugging, sometimes perilously narrow roads instead. My support vehicle closely following behind with flashers going when there was no side area. Traffic was very light so that didn't create any difficulties. My reasoning behind not taking the path was that when I walked around the lake almost 50 years ago I wandered as much as followed any particular path. I can tell you, wander I did on those streets. I think in Montegue I actually went backwards a couple times on the curves, twists and turns. Beautiful little town with flags a flying and flower baskets a hanging and neatly carved bushes and painstakingly manicured lawns. The route I took through town kept me mostly away from the touristy spots and it was nice to meander in the midst of every day life in a lakeside town. I wondered if the inhabitants ever considered just how lucky they were to spend their time only a stone's throw from such a treasure. I passed, perhaps a dozen and a half of them either walking a dog, jogging or passing the time with someone else. Houses were often painted in brightly contrasting colors, evoking a sense of a cheerful, pre-industrial existence. Reminiscent of the homes I saw in the movies while growing up. Trees draped over the roadways as if designed to provide a tunnel of leaves shielding me from the rays of the hot sun. Drifting in and out of the neighborhood I found differing approaches to lakeside life. First a shuttered cape cod somewhat modest in size and decorations and then, right next door a lavish, sprawling, wealth flaunting semi mansion. Quite a contrast but at the same time enlightening. We are all different, even here. After what seemed to be an inexhaustible number of hills and tight curves I rounded a downhill right turn and headed north winding between marshes, white beeches and ponds of varying sizes. That is where I passed my first fellow bicycle rider. Her lack of response to my friendly wave sort of surprised me. Head bent down, legs churning, speeding along as if trying to elude some sort of evil. We all ride for different reasons and she was indeed intent on hers. Just the same, I enjoy a wave of camaraderie. I'm not the French racing type of competitor. I could smell the differing aroma's provided by the landscape. A little more about this trip next time. Too much for today.
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