Friday, September 19, 2014

Sometimes beauty comes at a price; Ottawa Park Trail

     I was told that Ottawa park has a beautiful bike trail, but it's a little scary and this trail was rough.  I was game because I love beautiful  trails, and you know I'll try anything once (somethings even twice!).

     I found this to be correct in both counts. The park it's self was breath taking, though in some spots the trail had it's share of wear and tear.  As far as safety, we were parked right next to the police station; how much safer can you get.

     At times the ride was very smooth and I began to question this challenge thing...

     Part of the beauty was riding through Ottawa Park Golf course.  I had to remind myself to yell "on your left" and not "FORE"...

     Yes, I'll admit, some of the trail was uneven, so much to the point where we had to get off the bikes and walk them.

     However, I figured out what they meant by rough.  It wasn't only the cracks and bumps,  I saw this sign and said "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?"  Nope, they weren't...

     My friend warned me that I seriously needed to ride the brakes the whole way down.

          This picture was taken the second time around when I got off my bike to take it.  The first time I was shaking so much and all I could think about was how this was gonna end...

     This downhill curvy path felt like it was a mile long and when we got to the bottom I was happier than a pig in mud to be there.  But I practiaclly had to pry my hands off of the brakes.  Of course, what goes down must go up (that's a little backwards...)  

     This was also taken the second time around and when I finally made it to the top.  I wish you could see the birds eye view and just how steep this was. I seriously needed a nap when we were done:)

     Look at that big tree in the middle; the trail loops behind it, and the other trees, were just as tall or taller but look much  smaller because the trail is getting steeper.  Keep in mind, we were going up, UGH!

       This ride sure came with a price and it sure was one crazy workout.  At the end of the day, they were right, this was one beautiful trail, but when they said rough, they weren't kidding!! 

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Olander Park; no trail here, but It's a ride down memory lane


  It's true; Olander Park is by no means a serious bike trail, and comparatively speaking, it's probably one of the smallest parks outside of neighborhood parks you'll ever find.

     However, this little park, while lacking size and amenities, holds more memories than any park I know.  Back when my children were small we lived an ear shot away from this park in Sylvania Ohio, and it was a true gift every day when I took my youngest daughter Lindsay on walks there while her two older siblings were at school.

     She was only a toddler, yet our bonding time was that of two best friends.  It started out that I would push her in her stroller as we looped the one mile stretch that surrounded the small lake.  When we started bringing bread for the ducks that was the end of our power walks and the beginning of Lindsay's independence.  

     I remember pointing out the squirrels and geese along with many other objects of nature and felt so proud when she finally learned to repeat them back.

     When the stroller walks became mundane and we needed something else to stimulate the interest of this tiny little girl, that's when we decided to continue our journey by bike.

     Lindsay loved riding tandem, and what a life it must have been to ride on the back of a bike while someone else did all the pedaling.

     It was a bitter sweet day when Lindsay started school and I was left to venture this park by myself.  I no longer needed to transport a child so that was when I transitioned to rollerblading.

     When I felt like I had out grown this tiny park is when I decided to start roller blading the University Parks Trail,  and for many years I believed I would be rollerblading there for the rest of my life.  Sadly, my days of rollerblading would eventually come to an end.  But that didn't stop me, I eventually replaced the rollerblades with the bike again and I was back on the University Parks trail once more.

    However, the other day I decided I needed to take another stroll down memory lane and reminisce about some of my most  cherished memories of this iconic Olander Park.

     My intention was to go about five one mile laps around the lake and simply be alone with my thoughts.  As I made it half way through my third lap I noticed three park staff members doing some weeding and I figured I would ask them to take a photo for my blog.  After a few minutes of idle chit chat, which we all knew was par for the course, I was on my way.


     I had only gone two and a half  miles but I began to wonder if five times around by myself would make me go stir crazy.  I already had my pictures so anymore riding would simply be gravy.

     As I was riding past one of the parking lots, a lady got out of her car and asked me if I knew of any good bike trails.   Boy did she open up a can of worms.  I went on and on about  all of my favorites and I asked her to go to my blog and she could see some pictures of them.

     I noticed she had her bike in the back of her car and asked her if she was coming or going.  She told me she was just going to do a few quick laps around the lake.  Of course I asked her if she wanted company and  that five laps turned into 13 by the time we finished telling each other our life stories.

     It turns out she grew up in the same part of town as I did, went to the same high school just two years before me, we're both breast cancer survivors, we both ride a bike much better and further than we walk because we both have one pesky foot, and  if that isn't enough irony for you, the two of us share the same first name.

     It's good to find some one else who shares my passion in cycling and the only challenge is that she actually lives two hours away and travels between the two cities.  There's a reason our paths crossed so I'm sure we'll get together in the future.  I've said it a million times and I'll say it again... everything happens for a reason.

     Though my life journey has taken many twists over time, I often find myself returning to this quaint little park,  because no matter what life has in store for me, I always know this is one place I can go to find some of the best memories of my life.    

Have a great day!!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Riding in the clouds of the North Coast Inland Trail in Elmore Ohio

     I know I keep saying  "this trail is my favorite"; and at some point it can't possibly get any better.  But I've come to realize, all of the bike trails I've traveled on have something unique that make's them my "favorite for the moment".  

     This particular trail was in Elmore Ohio; it's the North Coast Inland trail.  I knew I was going to fall in love with it from the very beginning when the first thing I saw was a beautiful blanket of Black Eyed Susan flowers, and just beyond them was a bridge overlooking the river, which this picture doesn't do it justice, but I could have stared at it all day.

          As we ventured through the town of Elmore we came across this nostalgic depot right in the middle of a cozy little park.  Ironically, I remember taking my kids there many years ago when they were young, but I never noticed the bike trail that ran right through it. 

     When we made our way past the depot I saw these trees and assumed we would be surrounded by woods for this ride.  Once again, I would need to be on my toes and prepare to dodge the leaves, berries, twigs and Black walnuts.  Yes, that was the case for a while.

     However, before long I would discover the part of this trail that made this my all time favorite!  The trees were gone and we were now riding through miles and miles of corn fields with nothing but the whitest clouds I've ever seen as a backdrop.  We were definitely not in Kansas anymore:)

     We even rode right under the Ohio turnpike, but from a ways back I felt like I was watching a semi truck race on a hot-wheels track.

          At one point it was a case of "country meets forest"... that and the land of OZ:)

     You can see the bike trail it's self is one of the smoother, calmer trails I've rode on, but here's why this trail is 
my favorite...

 Like the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang",  I actually thought at any moment my bike was going to sprout wings and I would soon be flying through the clouds:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, September 12, 2014

A blading buddy works too!

     Sometimes I just want to get on my bike and go, and there don't happen to be any willing participants around.  But this day I wanted to check out the construction of the University Parks trail and I did manage to drag my son Matt along.  However, Matt doesn't have a bike, so he would be hoofing it on his roller blades. What a trooper. 

     This was actually going to be a pleasant change of pace.  Obviously, someone on roller blades could never keep up with a cyclist.  I was thinking I could glide around at about 8 miles an hour and take a leisurely stroll.

     Interestingly enough, I looked at my computer at one point and noticed I was going about 13 miles an hour, and there was Matt right with me.  I guess there's no stopping a 24 year old, and how could he let his old mom show him up!

     This construction has been going on far too long, but as you can see, they're finally making progress.  I'm sure it will be completed just in time for the snow to fly:) 

     While I'm at it, I figured this would be a good time to set the record straight... When I posted a while back about this construction, I had a few people mention to me that my shadow in the picture made it look as though I was making an obscene gesture. As tempted as I may have been, I was able to refrain from displaying my opinion; I had to go back to the scene of the crime to clear my name. 

     Yes, this may look a little sketchy, but if you look at my picture without the shadow you will see that I'm totally off the hook.  However, I wouldn't blame the trail for making the gesture; this can't be fun for the trail either...

     As we ventured into the park we discovered that the bridge was still out as well.  

     Here Matt thought we were just going for a bike ride, he had no idea I would be stopping continuously to take pictures.   He soon learned, this is what I do:) He also never imagined I would take a picture of him either, but this may not happen again anytime soon so I better get a picture when I can.

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lets venture down to Bowling Green

     A trail I've been dying to try out was Slippery Elm in Bowling Green Ohio.  So we ventured down there bright and early in the morning.  Only it wasn't so bright.  You could practically cut the fog with a knife.

     This trail runs right through the middle of farm country, which was a far cry from the green belt parkway in down town Toledo.  There were corn fields as far as the eye could see.  We even heard a rooster giving his morning wake up call, but he must have slept in with the fog delay because it was about 7:30 when he started his yammering.  People talk about being up with the chickens; I thought that was more like 5 AM...

     Fog or no fog, I still enjoyed this ride a lot.  It was so peaceful riding out in the great Netherlands  of Ohio.  

     One thing I noticed about this trail is the patchwork to try to maintain the pavement of probably twenty years or so.  The filler they used to seal the cracks made by many years of ground settling made this ride a bit of a challenge, but it was just one more obstacle to conquer:)

          I don't know if you can see this, but some creature created this masterpiece and I was looking to see if this web was the work of one said Charlotte... (You know... The book "Charlotte's Web"... guess you had to be there...)

          This was where a swarm of about three thousand black birds  were flying back and forth, making me think we were in Alfred Hitchcock's  movie "The Birds".  However, I stopped to take a picture because I knew you wouldn't believe it, and they were more afraid of me then I was of them.  Not a single bird wanted to photo bomb my picture.

     Just one more challenge about this ride was the falling leaves, acorns and elderberries; after all, it is September now and I'm sure there will be a lot of obstructions on the trails as nature starts to shed it's summer coat.  Unless I want to get out there and sweep the trails ahead of time I better get used to it.

     One little fun fact I discovered on this ride was the very small town we passed through named Rudolph couldn't have more than a population of 500; if you blink you miss it, but around the holidays people swarm from miles around to bring their Christmas cards to their tiny little post office; after all, how cool is it to have Christmas cards postmarked "Rudolph":)

      By the time we finished our ride the fog had lifted and the sun was shining brightly.  As you can see, this quaint little trail also raps around in this quiet neighborhood; so we went from farm, to woods, to small town, to residential all in a single ride.  

          I can't wait to see what the next trail has in store!

Have a great day!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

That tire isn't going to fix it's self!

     So I said I was finally going to learn to fix a flat and this was gonna be the day to do it.  I wined a few times that we would run out of daylight and we should do it another day, but my excuses were all used up.

     As you can see, we had everything needed to change a flat, there's the CO2 cartridge on the far right which replaces a pump to put air in the inner tube.  The metal thing next to it is basically a portable tool box. Pretty much anything that needs to be fixed on a bike can be fixed with this tool.  The yellow objects on the top are tire levers and those are used to pry the tire away from the rim.  Lastly, the black circle is a spare tube. Of course, I'm sure you recognize the pump, which I obviously don't keep in my saddle bag, but everything else I do.  Call me a bike shop on wheels:) 

     My tire was perfectly fine, so I assumed we could just study a manual and I would be prepared if I actually get a flat. Why would I fix it?? What's that old saying... If it aint broke...  That wasn't the plan.

       Have you ever seen a chart displaying the steps to perform the Heimlich Maneuver?  You're left wondering if you really could save someone from choking if that day ever came.  The best way to learn is by doing it.

     So I rolled up my sleeves and planned to dive right in.  The first thing I had to do in this process was deflate the inner tube (which would already be deflated in the case of an actual flat).  and I removed a small ring at the base of the air nozzle that held it in place.

     This is where those cute  yellow tire leavers come in.  I used those to pry the tire away from the rim so I could remove the damaged inner tube and replace it with the new tube, while making sure to keep the tire loosely around the rim.

See, I was right again; it was dusk by the time we were finished:)

      When the new tube is in and the ring is back on the nozzle loosely, I need to pump it up to about 20 pounds, then feel around the outer circumference of the tire, checking for lumps and making sure the tube isn't twisted inside, which could cause it to rupture.  and lastly, I tighten the ring and continue to fill the inner tube to 120 pounds ( which is not the case in all tires).

     I know this whole process might seem boring, and thank you so much for taking the time to read it.  You did me a huge favor, because I did it myself, that's true, but I had to write it down to know it actually sunk in:)

     If that day ever comes, and I'm sure it will, I can promise you I'll be fixing my own flat:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, September 5, 2014

What if I have a flat...

     It's good to have a riding buddy, and even better if that buddy is an expert with the mechanics of a bike, but one thing I've learned is we're going on the "teach a man to fish" theory; no damsel in distress for me.

     I know my tires have to be at 120 pounds and I have the pump to fill them, but the tires weren't going to fill themselves, so it was up to me to learn.  Not just every once in a while, but every time I ride.  

   That wimpy "this is too hard" comment worked about once, but then it was up to me to muster up the strength to pump them up myself.

     Before long I was able to figure out how I could put my body into it and now pumping my tires is like tying my shoes.

  So guess what's next...  If I get a flat, it's surely not going to fix it's self... Yes, I have a patch kit, a spare tube, tire levers,  and an emergency CO2 cartridge in my saddlebag; I even have the tools to fix it, but magic fairy dust... that, I was fresh out of.

     I put it off long enough and I had used up my last excuse that I wasn't going to get a flat anytime in the near future, because my riding buddy, Robert, went and got a flat himself.  I swear it was just to teach me a lesson:)  It soon became a reality, and now I knew I had to learn.

     I could say it'll never happen to me, but this happened after I was on that same ride and I got lucky this time; next time it could be me, but you better believe I'm gonna know what to do:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Is Oak Openings considered uncharted??


       We've traveled the Wabash Cannonball trail several times now, but always ran out of daylight and never made it to the end.  So we decided we would start at the end and work our way back.  It's technically the same trail but now we're starting at Oak Openings State Park and I do believe this counts as uncharted territory:)

     Of course, you know me... I always end up in conversation with everyone I pass.

Glen; the park trail patrol

     We spent the first few minutes in total amazement of our new BFF Glen's swanky wheels.  I know I just got a new bike, but I was a little envious because this thing was out of this world.  The only thing missing was a hot tub.

     My camera might be causing me to slack on the mileage I put on my bike but  I just can't help myself; the view in this park is breathtaking.

     My poor riding buddy, Robert was a real trooper; holding my pink and white bike while I went crazy with the camera:)

"Are we about done??"

     However, since I was able to sneak a photo, take a minute to notice he has no shoes on. This is how he rides because he has little feeling in his feet due to his MS, but that didn't stop him from riding 75 miles in the bike to the bay.  

     I knew this was the trainer for me.  How can I complain that I can't ride when he's proof it can be done.

     Incidentally, some passing riders struck up a conversation with us and asked how far we planned to ride, and it really depended on how many more pictures I had to take.  But then I was also reminded that this bike wasn't going to ride it's self...  Oh, just one more;)

Now It's time to finish that ride:)

Have a great day!!