Jim and Jen welcome Raphael

Today I take the keyboard for my buddy Jim who’s resting after a long evening and night with Jen welcoming Raphael into this world.  Details on the delivery and the baby’s measurables is forthcoming.  To the future bike rider – Happy Birthday!

 Jim would want me to comment on our ride this weekend with the gang at “Beat the Train”.  Jim encouraged me to come along with a few guys he met at the Tour DeTroit (as noted in the last blog), rising at 5 AM to down a coffee and truck to Old Fort Wayne, i was a little nervous about how long/fast this group would roll.  Immediately on arrival the head of the pack – Andy was loud and proud welcoming new comers and raffling off some goodies before mounting up and heading out about 6:45 am. 

 Rolling through Mexican town the pack was off to cut the morning chill.  After 15 minutes of hard pedaling, we arrived at the Train Station to regroup (and shed that jacket).  The pace was fair, I was pushing a good sweat and felt comfortable with the group and my capabilities.  As we rolled into downtown, Single Speed Andy lead the group up the ramp to the Cobo Roof Top, heart beating 180 I crested the last turn with heaving lungs and burning calves to turn around and wisk our way down the ramp again to street level.  Lead Dog Andy was kind enough to pass directions to a driver of old D metal, the group took a breath and headed off to the River Front.  The water was glass on the river, no big winds to help or hinder our pace.  As we blew by the GM HQ/Ren Cen, Jim called out some push-ups at the bike shop break point – up and down; up and down – great to be alive.  From the bike shop the group headed out on the biggest run – up to Belle Isle and around.  As I hit the top of the bridge, I noticed SS Andy pulling ahead and decided to make a chase; picking my momentum, I pushed at full tilt turning up river.  SS Andy had no problem reeling me in, chatting a couple of minutes – then off he went.  A few other guys (including Jim from the Tour) joined up and the 4 of us crushed the rest of the loop, over the bridge and to Tim Horton’s to take a break.  Collecting the crowd, we headed for Indian Village and over to the Heidelberg project.  A few push-ups later and the decision was taken by Big Jim and me to break-off from the group to call it a day (unfortunately didn’t set the right timing expectations with my lovely wife).  All in all the BTT was a great group of riders and certainly will bring me back a few more times before the snow flies.

Tour De Troit 09/19/09

The highlight of the day was not the English Proper 100 miles I was after. Nor was it the gratification of accomplishing my goal. The true highlight of the day belonged to Jim Senska and Andy Erickson from the bike group based out of Old Fort Wayne, called Beat The Train. Without those fine fellows my dream and goal would not have been met.

The first 20 miles were chilly on the way down I kept telling myself, take it easy, save up for later. Big toes froze in Keen Sandals I did my best to warm up in the sunlight lawn at the starting point. I met a group of people who came in from Ypsilanti to do the ride they had read about only a few days prior. Blare Horn called the metric century ride to order in front the old hotel which probably closed back in the early 70’s by the look of things. Circling to keep my legs warm the ride began precisely at 9:45. As we began a ‘Roadie’ noticing my unorthodox wear barked that the ‘Other Ride was Over There’ and added, “what are you doing”? To that my reply was attempting an English 100 Proper, with 20 miles in so far how bout you? A moment of silence ensued as one of his group said, “Ya, were did you ride in from”? Latrhup Village says I and that was the end of it. After a few street turns and the ramped up energy of shaved leggs all around, I noticed two fellows about 100 yards up. I stepped hard and joined them.

Meet Andy and Jim! These boys can flat out fly no doubt about it. Jim was on a slightly modified hard tail mountain bike and Andy was riding Mountain Bike proper with Knobies to boot. I kept my distance at first so as not to suck there wind in typically roadie fashion, as we made our way past the old fort and into Dearborn that is when the good conversation began.

I learned that they were already well into their ride which was in fact a Beat The Train ride that had left earlier that morning with plans of joining the Tour. We made our way onto Hamilton and started to talk and open up a bit. As we went by the first water break stop it was not even open? We pushed on and made our way North, then East and then West again. Turning down Jos Compau we headed South through the heart of Hamtramck.

Onto Grand Blvd and heading towards Belle Isle my legs started to cramp as I was out of water. These fine fellows waited as I darted into the Marathon gas station to refill on the H2O from there it was on to the Belle Isle bridge. We started to see a few groups of people that had broken out and away from the smaller tour, hellos all around we made it to the tent to the left of the bridge. Piles upon Piles of People, lines upon lines, what an absolute incredible sight to behold. Watch out bikes everywhere it was amazing.

My new found friends decided not to wait in the lines as we headed off across the lawn and over Jefferson to the gas station. Filling up with water and aid we headed back across the bridge for our Belle Isle loop. Jim took off ahead and sliced that back side wind like butter, I trailed Andy all the way around as we made our way at the half way point Jim was off his bike in plenty enough time to shoot some pictures as Andy and I rolled on bye. With the wind in by back I switched up to the big Sprocket-wheel and aired it out the easy way, with the wind!. All together once again we headed across the bridge with Jim taking up the lead again.

Down and over we had a near collision with a mid age Women on her bike who did not think to cross the road by looking both ways first? Maybe her upset was our fault but… she blurted, “what and the hell do you think you are doing”, to that my reply was that, “we were on the other one…” as we went on by. The Karma Gods immediately took notice of my quip and promptly gave me a flat tire. Pulling off Jefferson onto the side walk Jim came flying back around and Insisted that he help me? I just met the guy and he would not leave a new brother behind?  Andy was up the way a bit as he broke out ahead waiting on us he decided to call to see if everything was ok?  After not having a flat in three years I thought the one Tube and Compressed air cartridges I brought would be more than enough, at least that was what I had thought..?

Pressing on we made our way East on Jefferson and through onto Freud Street, into Indian Village and onto the Heidelberg. Flat number two, shit! Andy was quite Hungry and gave me a heavy dose of shit about his belly and what hungers him. Jim without a moments pause reached into his pack and gave me a spare tube as Andy helped by offering up another cartridge of compressed air, in essence saving my ass yet again.

From there we made our way through he rest of the route and back to the starting point. With longer than long lines standing before us they decided to take my offer and join me at Motor City Brewery for food and beer. Turning off the service drive, pothole and pinch flat number three! Damn. It was Andy’s turn to take his wife’s spare tube out of his pack and the remainder of his compressed air and offer it up without hesitation. A little more razzing (well deserved) we were finally off to the Brewery for Cheese Boards and Great Pizza and a few Organic Beers. While we were eating another fine fellow from the Beat The Train group showed up as he had been on the phone with Andy earlier, without a second to lose he said, “Oh you must be Jim the guy that likes to flat out a lot”? I love it!!! Bring it as it was beautiful. We welcomed him with a small glass of beer and he in turn walked me out to his car to give me more compressed air so I could make it the rest of the way home and complete my goal and dream.

Without the fine fellows from Bike The Bridge I would not have made it. At every turn they were there willing to help, slapping the peddles hard, not judging and giving fair amounts of ribbing and shit, as needed/deserved. From the Brewery on home I smiled often at the memory of those two fine fellows.   I made one stop at Heroes Park and gave the ground 33, it was all I had left…. Bike Detroit!

J. Meyers bike explorer

Birmingham Trail Ride 9/15/09

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Big Mike made it in on an earlier flight and with his new ride he can pack his bike internally so whilst at the airport it is free from the elements.  Starting with a mad dash across Southfield Road we hit our first little trail section commonly known as Golden Gate Park.  Up and over the Earthen Burm we headed across the service drives and 696 and snaked our way onto Rackham drive,.  Following the Arch onto Saratoga we did a left right switch back across evergreen and went west on Winchester.  Crossing over at the light at Lasher we went to the north of the elementary school and headed onto Chatsford Circut Street, flowing left onto Twyckingham Way we made our way to Bell Road and hung a right and soared down the hill.  To the crest and a quick left onto Valley Crest Lane, flowing left we headed to the turn around and darted into the woods at the trail head.

We call this area ‘The Ridge’ Virgin Watershed Topography with a 60-70 foot glacial ridge.  That’s right. No exaggeration.   Big Mike was surprised by the energy, the release, the monstrous trees, the amazing sweeping downhill and the damn DNR bridge over the Rouge.  This place is absolutely incredible!!!  Once across the bridge we slapped um hard uphill and exited onto Streamwood.  Still climbing up almost to 12 mile you start to go back down hill, hard right onto the side walk adjacent to 12 mile we hit speeds of 34.50 MPH.  That’s right man, How many trails have we been on that can give us a thrill like that?

Over the Rouge and up the other side we took a hard right onto Bell road, stood up and climbed to the crest and made a hard left onto Belle Brooke Street as we followed the Bike path signs.  We hugged 12 mile on the sidewalk, crossed over Lasher, and zipped down across Evergreen.  As we approached the Southfield-Lathrup High School we jumped the kerb, cut across 12 mile onto Heritage lane north.  Right onto North-brook Drive and Right again then we turned left on Westbrook Pkwy.  North to Hickory Leaf Street we turned right and crossed over another tributary of the Rouge that some civil engineer decided should be piped underground as it crosses south over 12 mile.  (How cool would it have been to keep the watershed topography or in other words the rhythm of the earth in tact as it made its way along the East side of the high-school and through Lathrup Village?)  Anyways, we turned left on Rock Creek Drive and flowed all the way up and out to the light at 13mile.  Crossing over the grass and onto the sidewalk we turned left and made our way over to Churchill Drive flowing around the bend and slightlyWest we entered into the south entrance of Beverly Hills Village park.  Steep Climb up the sledding hill we stopped to catch our breath, take in the view and drop and give the hill what we had.

Sliding down of the Northwest corner we entered into the woods flying, mushy wood-chips sucked our tires in, dropped gears and made our way through the forest and out to Beverly Road.  Left turn made we sprinted back to evergreen and made a fast right flying down hill and once again over the Rouge.  We made a hard left and entered in on Village drive.  Flowing this all the way to the end you will notice a white chip stone path that leads into the Forest.  Flowing right  on the path and through the first section of the woods we turned right onto the gravel service drive that heads west along the south side of the Waste treatment plant.  Following the trial up the hill and to the right you follow the river on the North side as we both enjoyed some of the best damn mountain biking trails you can find in all of Metro Detroit.  Climbs, switchback, swizeleanies, tight twisty handlebar catches!  As we approached the bend in the river we caught site of a couple of old friends with their hip waders on, standing in the river along with their Springer Spaniels have a good time.  Hellos said, we continued on, through a nice back yard and made our way onto East lady Drive.

More hills we climbed our way up to 14mile made a quick right along the shoulder and then turned left on Crosswick Road.  Left onto Fox Chase, then north to the dead end at Middlebury lane.  We turned right and headed back over Evergreen left onto Lincoln and then a quick right onto Hillside drive we made our way down onto Green Lawn and from there we turned left onto Northlawn Blvd.  Along the golf course the view is beautiful.  Starting down the Hill just before the Rouge Bridge once again you make a hard and fast left onto Fairway.  At the bend on Fairway, just as it starts to swing wide west we jumped the kerb and followed the riverside trail all the way up to Lincoln.  Crossing over Lincoln we stayed on the sidewalk that skirts the river and turned right onto the wood-chip path entering into Linn Smith Park.

We followed the river’s edge path all the way across the foot bridge and onto 15 mile.  It was time to stop and push um up as we caught our breath.  From there it was onto Dick O’ Dows entering in through the alley way we gave the pavement another set of push-ups before we headed in for a beer.  It seemed like it has been a year since we made the full trail loop.  Having only time for one Big Mike started to push down Pierce as we made our way back to Lathrup Village.  With sustained speeds of 25mph on mountain bikes, (that’s right Roadies, we have hair on our legs too), we gave the last 1/2 mile south of Beverly the saggy swizzle.  Back and forth across the road like a snake we were flying freedom.  Once home we said our goodbyes until we do it again.  Bike Metro Detroit trails!!!

J. Meyers bike explorer

Sunday Serenade 9/06/09

Fellow Bike Detroit Member big Mike made his way down to the Bike the Bridge event early Sunday morning. The plan was to meet him after the ride down at the Atwater Brewery upon his return. Coming in from the Suburbs again was wonderful. Down some new and well traveled streets the people who were out were friendly and celebrating the Holiday weekend. After 17 miles I stopped at Honest Johns to say hello and take in some extra fluids. From there it was down Cass and left onto Grand river as I made may way into Campus M. enjoying the pedestrian only aspect of Woodward Ave. Yeeeee Haaaaaaw.

Headed to Jefferson and swung left to avoid the Jazz fest crowds, then right down along the East end of the G.M. Complex and then onto the river walk. Kids, fountain splashes, fun laughter were all around. It feels good sliding slow on through and around all the wonderful kids, Moms and dads. Into the comfort station I had to shark the wheelhouse now that we finally have some shirts to wear. From there on out the Belle Isle for the short loop, (midway left turn near the Conservancy-Old Aquarium) and then on back to Atwater to meet big Mike and the Tour Bus full of bikes? No show, nothing open, Andrews closed to, what? A few texts later I was on my wonderful way back home.

Up through Greek Town and back on over to Cass I stopped at the Old Miami as Andrew, (CCS Graduate, turned Landscape Artist) said they were having a Fund Raiser to be used as legal fees to fight the 5′ property line dispute with Wayne State University. Come on everyone Adverse Possession is hard to if ever overturn. Why fight? Split the difference? From there it was around the corner with a brief stop in at the Motor City Brewery I caught up with a few employees I haven’t seen in a while, Holiday good cheer stated and done, big Mike called and told me he was just getting into his Van and where could we meet? To that the reply was “On Second Avenue, try to catch me before Palmer Park”.

With the Wind at my back I slapped em hard and let it all goa! Through Wayne State Campus, Sprint up to the Fisher Building all the way to Henry Ford’s First Grand Estate, stopped, dropped and gave the earth 25. Called Mike to say hey where you at? On Second down Near the University was his reply. I remounted and pushed as hard as I could all the way to 6 mile. I circled around a few times and behold there was big Mike in the Golden Minivan. He opened the hatch, bike went in and we were off to the Stone House to catch a brew and talk about his journey and the history he learned while he was in Sandwich Town. Bike Detroit!

J. Meyers bike explorer

Thursday Night ride 9/3

Big Mike finally made it out of his office early enough to come on down from Auburn Hills and hit the city streets on his bike.  Big Mike is really the guy that got us both off of our asses and into the woods last february to start and clean up the trails.  It was nice to be riding with him once again that is for damn sure, as we both were sporting our Urban ride bikedetroit gear we started heading west and over the Selden Lodge pedestrian overpass.  I wanted to share with him one the exploration routs I had made earlier in the year and decided to take him over to Patton Park and Holy Cross Cemetary via a modified Mexican town route.

We made it to the beginning of Toledo road.  The old Toledo trail, 1800’s architecture can be found left right here and there, for me it’s cool to be taken back in time via architecture.  I wonder what those buildings have seen from the times of dusty wagon trails and now onto modern day traffic?  Snaking through we ended up on the back side of Patton Park, hit the Pedestrian only trail and made our way into Holy Cross cemetery.  Onto Lapeer park and into Johnny’s place for a cool Molson.  Challenged at first by a tattoo covered fellow about sporting our colors in the bar, we assured everyone we were non violent and that the color is blue like the sky for a good reason.  Many questions were asked about bike Detroit and what we were about?  fun times talking about ditching the car, finding a good release while getting back in shape allowing our wives a rebirth of desire, ( cause how many gals like beer guts anyways? ).

From there Johnny instructed us on how to get to Dearborn Street and we headed on down to Jefferson and the Delray district.  Ma Kovac’s bar was packed that in of itself was one heck of a sight.   Big Mike had the lead and kept it going on bye.  We headed past the old Fort and around the curve onto the rail road tracks so as to avoid Fort Street and Mattie’s truck traffic.  Back onto Jefferson and towards the bridge we had to head back out to Fort this time as the Jefferson road trail under the bridge has been blocked off for 8 years now.  (hey why don’t we all tell him he cant do that either and let the pedestrians on through?)

From there big Mike was on a tear and we headed down Jefferson and along the waterfront on to the GM Towers.  From there we turned North and headed in through Greek Town and made our way over to Jacoby’s for a beer and good conversation. After fielding a few questions about our shirts we headed on up to the brewery to say hi to our friends.  The place was sardine packed, under a wave of humanity it was hard to even walk in let alone up to the counter.  We jumped back on  the bikes and sprinted back to HJ’s for some fish, water and finishing conversation.  Another great night in Detroit with a great partner and friend.

Bike Detroit!  J. Meyers bike explorer