Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thumb levers

The weather has been unkind since we got home.  Several days when it rained at least some every day followed by days with very high winds.

I set out today to try to find some fall color.  The weather that we have NOT had is anything even remotely close to freezing.  Some sources are saying that all of the rain and the absence of a freeze have combined to delay the changing of the leaves.

I don't know about that but I do know I rode and rode and rode before finally finding some nice orange.
Beautiful blue sky, the always attractive less harsh fall lighting, fall has arrived.

If you want to call yourself a bicyclist (and I do) you have to ride at least once in a while.  Today I got out there on my thumb lever equipped bicycle and had a very nice ride indeed.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Until next time

I took my last Michigan ride for the year today.  I hadn't been on the inland route to PSPS yet so I tried for that.  Wind conditions were not ideal but the temperature was, it was another great day in West Michigan.

I rode up to Road Ends, the turn around point for the inland route.  For the first time in a while I was NOT facing photo restricting sun conditions.  I got right down to water's edge and got a look downstream towards that coal burning power plant.
Following this route means that PSPS is encountered shortly after the turn back, on the return trip.
Here is a look at what the fuels with attitude were selling for today.
We think the 110 octane is gas for boats.  The ethanol free is for small engines, chain saws and the like.  The others explain themselves.

I rode right past this little tableau and then circled back to take a look.
Just sitting on the edge of the pavement at the side of the road telling a tale that most of us will never know.

The sunsets have been unremarkable, tonight was a bit better.  Joe Valentinetti taught us that if you can't edit your own photos you can not get better as a photographer.  No matter how much you like the three sunset photos if you consider yourself a photographer you can pick out the best one.

I can pick out the best one but I am posting all three anyway.  I do this because there have been so few sunset photos here this time, I am just trying to get the sunset photo quotient back to a reasonable level.

The first is early, about twenty minutes before actual sunset.
Here the sun is finally  at the bottom of the cloud layer.
I went down the steps to get this one.  Joe always emphasized the importance of interfering with the image.  I wanted to get some of that dune grass in front of the sun.
We will be home tomorrow.  Special thanks to our team at home who have done in our absence the home repair that we couldn't get done before leaving and would therefore have had to tackle pretty much immediately upon re-entering our house.

We love it here but as everyone knows, there is no place like home.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pigs come over to say "Hi!"

Today's ride took us inland to Quincy Park and environs.  The return ride leads past the last vestiges of a farm now completely surrounded by the suburbs.  There were cows, a horse, a flock of chickens . . . and a pig pen.

The pigs were in the shade when we got there but I lingered for a while near the fence looking at them.  Pigs are intelligent and curious creatures (All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. - Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)) and eventually these two decided to come over and see what was up.
That business between me and the pigs is what is widely known in the swine trade as a "pig proof" fence.

The pigs did some talking.  I am not fluent but I was occasionally in the presence of pigs as an adolescent so I DO know just a tiny bit of pig.  I chatted back to them for a couple of minutes before moseying along.

By the way, the pig that I do know is "pig, pig, pig, pig", rinse and repeat.

Here are the lyrics to a traditional folk song, lyrics recited often in the home of my youth by my father:

'Twas an evening in October, I'll confess I wasn't sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
"You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,"
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

That's about enough pig talk for this time.

The FT and I got down Ottawa Beach Road to the State Park entrance before we had to turn and return to home base.
Her bicycle went back to the shop tonight after dinner.  It then rained really hard for about an hour.  It has stopped for now but bicycling may be complete for this trip.

It has been swell, we will be home soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


We stopped at the blueberry store for some tomatoes.

They had dried blueberries (think blueberry raisins), blueberry mustard, blueberry honey, blueberry pie, I think frozen blueberries, blueberry jam, etc. etc. etc.

Not an actual blueberry in sight.

The blueberry lady said I should take a picture of their pumpkins.  They grow them there on the blueberry farm and she is correct, they are really nice pumpkins.
No ride today, it was too nice.

We went downtown instead.

Downtown was also nice.

It has been several days of unremarkable sunsets and today continued the trend.
Unremarkable but still actually pretty nice.

Another perfect day on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

County parks

We completed another one of the iconic rides today, a destination ride to a quite a distance up the shore county park.  There was a woman doing an oil painting on the beach at Kirk Park.
We rode past a bunch of stuff that in other years made the cut for inclusion in the blog.  The coal fired power plant on the shore of Lake Michigan just south of Kirk Park has had multiple angles in multiple years.  This  year the image is of the coal train waiting to unload its cargo.
Stonehenge is usually photographed from across the road.  This time I got an angle from nearer to the stone work by taking the photo on the return trip while my bicycle was on the same side of the road as the aged gate.
As we neared home we passed near the other even more iconic county park, Tunnel Park.
The FT has been talking about the color coordination here, blue bike, orange tires, blue and orange jersey.  I think it is worth adding that Rabobank is a Dutch bank.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chêne du Lac

I haven't done much bicycle maintenance here for several years.  Last year I had my first ever Michigan flat tire.  I resisted the urge to get a set of tires here even though the bicycle was probably due for a complete set.  I  knew I had tires in my basement at home.

We completed travel here this year in something of a hurry up but one of the things I DID remember was my bicycle tires.  As a result on my Michigan bicycle I now palp tires in an orange colorway.

Secondarily over the past several years I have adopted a relaxed attitude about chain lube.  I have decided that if the bicycle is shifting correctly and easily and if the mechanism isn't making too much noise then additional oil on the chain will mostly just contribute to a build up of oil and grit on the chain which has the possibility of being really messy.  Furthermore, attaching grit to the chain with a liquid really produces a nice slurry of gritty particles which it seems to me is just as likely to cause additional wear as it is to reduce wear.

I run a dry chain.

Yesterday the chain was TOO noisy.  I thought about it a bit and concluded that it had probably been at least five years since the last time the chain was lubed.  Now I have bicycles at home on which I have ridden many more miles than I have ridden on this bicycle but I have no bicycles at home that I ride which have been five years without a chain lube.

I rounded up the homeowner's dry lube and today I went link by link around the chain, 106 drops of oil.

It is actually quite satisfying to note what a wide variety of creaks, squeaks and pings can be eliminated from a bicycle ride by an appropriate lubrication.

Today I took only a shake down, not the standard length ride.  The others here want to ride tomorrow and I didn't feel like I was going to be up to the full standard ride four days in a row.

Mostly I rode over to and around in Waukazoo Woods, highlighted today by the Oaks of the Lake.
It was intended to be a short ride and it was.  I was getting close to the end and not feeling quite used up yet so I went someplace I haven't gone probably in at least that aforementioned five years.  I used to ride there all of the time.  I took a picture.
Only a select tiny minority will be able to identify that spot but here is another hint that may give a few more people a chance at guessing.
Today I rode end to end of Sunset Bluff Drive.

The east end is just a fork in the road in a pleasant enough neighborhood not far from here.

The west end is on the top of the giant dune next door.

It didn't seem THAT hard, I paused at the top to get a couple of pictures and to catch my breath (and regulate my heart rate).

It was good.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Today we rode past a couple more really important local landmarks.

Actually the first one we rode past yesterday as well but yesterday we did not stop for a photo.  This old stone gate from long ago when all of that land was someone's big ass estate has always been referred to by me as Stonehenge.
Even more sketchy than the last time I viewed this establishment, the somewhat iconic West Olive One Stop.