Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Riding with my eyes wide open.





     When I was riding my bike at Secor Park the other day, the smooth pavement got me thinking about the construction that has been going on all summer with the University Parks bike trail.  It was time for me to re-visit it again.

     I always enter the trail by way of Wild Wood Park, and as I was anxious to check out the status of the construction on the trail, I thought I would never make it out of the park.

     First, the park was swarming with people; I'm guessing because they figured it might be the last nice weekend they have for a super long time.  There were literally no parking spaces to be found, so I was forced to wait for someone to walk to their car and stalk them until they left.

     Then, I was getting my bike out of my car and I just happened to be wearing a bright pink shirt (shocker!  Right!?!?), a couple of cyclists who were putting their bikes away asked me if I ran in the breast cancer race that happened to be that morning in downtown Toledo.  I told them running isn't my strong suit these days, but I ride in the MS bike to the bay.  A few random questions and a dose of idle chit chat eventually turned into me working my magic on them; hoping to convince them to ride next year:)


          When I finally managed to make my way out of the parking lot and into the park, that too became a huge challenge.  I hadn't been to Wild Wood Park in a few weeks and the colors of the leaves were breathtaking.  I found myself stopping about every 500 feet to take some pictures.  I must have taken a million pictures... Here... I posted all of them for you to see... Just kidding!!!  But don't tempt me;) Now the handful I do have for you won't seem so bad:)



          About an hour later I managed to make my way to the construction point of the trail.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the trail was completed; for all intents and purposes.  There were still a few minor details left.





     Coming back in the other direction you can see how nice the new pavement is.  Now they need to add the yellow lane  lines, otherwise when riders pass each other it becomes "every man for himself".




       I never ended up completing the entire trail because I wanted to make it home that same day,  but I did get my share of the great outdoors.



          As I meandered back into the park I was looking at the fluffy white clouds over head, and I couldn't help but wonder if they've always been that white, or if I just never noticed them before.

     The time leading up to my past year of riding I had a tendency of going outside basically to get from point "A" to point "B", and I was usually looking straight ahead.  Or I may have been in a golf cart chasing a silly little ball.  Of course, even then, I was too stressed out about the game to notice what was around me.

     I'm so glad I was pushed into this riding thing last year; If I hadn't, I may have never discovered all of the world I've been missing:)


     Oh, incidentally... this picture of me in front of the beautiful red foliage was taken by a very sweet lady who was just out for a leisurely walk; her name was Sister Nancy.  Ironically, she resides at the Franciscan Center along with Sister Karen; a very well known name in the local community that also happens to have MS.  Small world huh!?  It's amazing what you discover when you ride with your eyes wide open.


Have a great day!!

Christine:)






Monday, September 29, 2014

Lets see if Secor Park is anything special.



     Just another case of not a "real' bike trail, but a very nice ride.  Secor Park was my next mission and it was very exciting to see the trees in the beginning stages of color morphing.





I'm not exactly sure what the criteria of a park is, but this park interestingly enough, has a cemetery right in the middle of it.




     It was fascinating to see some of the unique names and very old dates.  But there was one thing I was a little curious about, which came first; the cemetery or the park (I still can't figure out that chicken or egg thing...)  One thing I do know is people are dying to go there:)  But I've been told that there are no longer vacancies in this cemetery so this is for transients only.


     This ginormous tree was at the other end of the of the cemetery, which I'm sure was a mere accent when they began their landscaping hundreds of years ago. 







     One thing I tend to notice is, even though the parks aren't actual bike routes, the pavement sure seems to be smoother.  I'm guessing  the state budget  pays for upkeep of the parks, but it must be a never ending process to replace the miles and miles of pavement on the bike routes; remember the tiny little patch of construction on the University parks trail... ugh! I just may have to check that out again...




     Though I'm somewhat new to the bike trails around the city, there is such a great sense of nostalgia when revisiting some of my favorite parks from years past, and this whole bike riding experience has reminded me that no matter what life throws at us, we have to hold onto all of the things that give us hope.

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Highland Meadows Red Tee challenge for MS

Denny and Peggy Spencer; Co-chair persons



          You may remember I helped out at the Highland Meadows Golf Course MS fundraiser last year; well it was that time again and I was never happier to be working side by side with all of my great friends of fifteen years again.

     This tournament was the Red Tee Challenge and the proceeds go to the National MS society.  




     They even brought in a vintage orange car to keep with the MS orange theme:)



My BFFs: Kurt and Kari Shell 

    Kari was my very first golfing buddy when I joined HMGC fifteen years ago and I tell people she'll be my friend forever,  because with her by my side I'll always be taller than at least one person:)



          All the ladies helping sell raffle tickets were really rocking those swanky orange boas, and after what was in store that day I know they were drier than the golfers.

     There was a field of eighty golfers and it was very humbling to see so many people out for the cause.  Looking at the sky in this picture you would have never guessed what kind of day they were in for ...



     Though these grey clouds opened up several times throughout the day and the wind was brutal at times, not a single golfer threw in the towel.


     The most humbling part of the day was when Peggy and Denny told me they want to donate the money under team leapfrog.  This was just one more example of the whole meaning behind our team name.  We started our team simply to raise awareness, and It was all about that leap of faith that we could find a whole lot of people who care, and we sure did:)

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Still learning to fish... now it's the chain


     I told you I was gonna "learn to fish", well I planned to learn everything there is to know about this bike.  What better place to work on it than The Toledo Bike Co-op.  Having the bike on a lift makes repairing it much easier. These people are my friends, and this was where I took my other bike in the hopes of finding someone who would get some use out of it.

     When I first purchased my new bike the salesman told me at some point I would have to tighten the chain de-railer cable.  I had no idea what he was talking about but didn't really care at this point, because it was years down the road...  or so I thought...  

     Remember, my chain popped off a while back... Then I often hear this clanking noise when I change the gears.  Well, that was because there was too much slack in the cable, causing the de-railer to rub against the chain as I was changing gears.  If the chain wasn't lined up perfectly, it could come off the ring, which was what it did several times.




     The first thing I had to do was press the gear shift, which is the same lever as the brakes only you press them inward rather than squeezing them. Next I turn the pedal and move the chain through the series of small chain rings.  I also had to repeat this on the other side to move it to the big ring.


          When pressing the de-railer cable with my thumb it was easy to see there was too much slack and that was where my handy bike tool (the one I always keep in my saddle bag) comes in.

     I had to loosen the screw (lefty - loosey) and pull the cable snug and tighten the screw again (righty- tighty).  Of course this process had to be done with both de-railer cables; the rear was only off by a fraction, but the front was closer to an inch, Wow!



          While I was there another thing I had to do was adjust my seat.  Remember I said I used to believe where ever the seat was is where it stayed forever... When I first got my bike and I was totally freaked about the way I was stretched forward and down, and thought I was going to loose my balance, my seat had to be lowered as far as it would go until I gained more confidence.  In fact, about an inch had to be sawed off of the seat post.

     Now that I'm more confident it needed to be raised back up.  What I didn't realize was by having my seat higher my legs were able to extend properly and I could get my right leg (the crazy one) up easier when I was taking off.

     My chain was finally in perfect working order so I hope it's a long time before I have to worry about it popping off again.   Now I know just a little more about the ins and outs of my new bike:)

     Oh, by the way... remember my old comfort bike... I found out the bike co-op was able to find a great new home for it!  Yay:)




Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Re visiting my very first bike trail; Centennial Quarry



     It had been a very long time so I thought I needed to revisit my very first bike trail.  Centennial quarry was the first tail I attempted when I was trying to gain my confidence to ride in the Bike To The Bay.  I rode it about once but then the up and down hills were more than I cared to deal with when I was just starting out.  Now it was time to bring back old memories.

     Of course the day we went it was 43 degrees out and I had to have two jackets on because I was freezing.  I looked and felt like the Michelin man but at least I was a little warmer.



        Looking at this picture you'll notice how flat this starting point of the trail is.  Well, there are two entries to this trail because when they first built it, the hill on the west side of the quarry was so steep that very few people could climb it so they had to make another entrance on the east side.

     This day I wanted to try the hard side.  I guess there was a very good reason they took the time to make a second entrance...  This hill was crazy!!  I know it's hard to tell by the picture, but about three quarters of the way up my bike was at about a 90 degree incline and I had to get off and walk it up the rest of the way.



          The one thing I was anxiously waiting for on my recent rides was finally starting to happen.  The leaves had been falling on the trails the past few weeks but I had yet to see them change colors.  They were finally turning many shades of bright red and orange.




          The rock quarry was very peaceful looking as the morning fog rose above it.


     The one thing I found frustrating back when I started riding last year was the thing I found most challenging now, and that was all of the quick up and down hills.  I spent a good portion of this ride shifting the gears up and down, and familiarity builds confidence:)



     Challenge and beauty, what more can you ask for!?

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

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!!

Christine:)

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!!

Christine:)

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!!

Christine:)