Hello Wind, My Old Friend

I like riding up hills. Long, gradual hills. Short, steep hills. Long, steep hills! Know why? The payoff. You get to coast down the other side. And isn't that what riding a bike is all about? Covering distance with little to no effort. 

Riding into the wind is like riding uphill. And when you're riding into the wind all day, there's no payoff. Coast? You're dreamin', pal. That's what my day was like.

After touring the canyons of downtown Detroit for a bit, I headed into the wind. On flat roads with no wind, my fully loaded bike and I can cruise with all day comfort at 16 mph. Today, traveling east into a quartering headwind, 11 mph. was about it. Turning north, into the wind, and the speed fell to 10….9…..8 mph. It was like that all day. North, then east. East, then north. Except for a short stretch between New Baltimore and Algonac, where the road turned south, skirting the northeast shore of Lake St. Clair. Here I was finally able to hit the big chainring and, lightly touching the pedals, zip along at 23 mph. No Sweat.

Things are different on the bike at those higher speeds. Tires barely skimming the road surface. Butt barely skimming the saddle. There's a feeling of weightlessness. At 10 mph. there's just weight. Especially at the RBI. Rider-Bike Interface.

I had hoped to make it to Lakeport State Park, north of Port Huron for the night. But as I rounded the bend heading north out of Algonac, I caught the full force of the wind coming straight down the St. Clair River. 7 mph. was all I could muster.

The thought of another 5 hours in the saddle to bag that last 35 miles did not appeal to me. Especially since the wind could very well be out of the south tomorrow.

I pulled into Algonac State Park, a glorified RV parking lot. Not my kind of camping.  But with a little scouting I found a nice woodlot to hang my hammock for the night. Just into to woods far enough for shelter from the wind, yet enough breeze to blow the mosquitos away.

I'm feeling windblown, and maybe a little eroded. But I'll take a day on the bike any time!

Ride ON! Jim

Day 3 mileage: 77.6
Total trip mileage: 134

Asana (Yoga pose) of the day:
Bhujangasana (Cobra) – the perfect antidote for being hunched over the handlebars all day.

Song stuck in my head:
Like a Hurricane by Neil Young

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To the Open Road & Vast Blue Sky

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*Note – I apologize if this posts twice. Mobile uploads have been sketchy. I'm posting this via email. If it works, this will allow me to keep my phone off and conserve battery power while I'm rolling. Please let me know how this post looks, and if the picture came through!*

Original post:
Northbound! It's a cool, clear, Up North kind of day here in Detroit at 6:30 a.m. I'd like to clear Port Huron before I hang my hammock for the night.

Feed Bag deployed!

Song stuck in my head this morning: Green Grass and High Tides by The Outlaws.

Ride On, Jim

Stillness

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On my ride to The Big D yesterday I considered spending an extra day at Still Point for a personal one day silent retreat. I already planned to attend all the services today, which would put me on the road well after noon. And on my second day of riding I hope to clear Port Huron in order to find a campsite. A big day in the saddle. Awaking at 3:30 again this morning solidified this idea.

The ring of the moktok was welcoming after a little fitful sleep just before daybreak. I joined a small handful of Temple residents and members for Yebul, Homage to the Buddhas. I excused myself at the beginning of the hour long meditation sitting and found more relief from the previous two weeks of lumbar and hip trauma in my Yoga practice. I joined the sitting meditation a half hour later.

Next was the half hour Family Service, geared for young children. We started with a rock meditation. Each child (Including me!) took several rocks from a bright red basket. We placed the rocks on one side of our mat, then picked each one up, held it in that hand, transfered it to our other hand, held it, then placed it on the opposite side of our mat. The process was then repeated until the rocks were back on their original side of the mat. During this time the rest of the adults sat in meditation.

It was with great presence that I watched the first little girl draw her stones from the basket with much delight. Suddenly my tears flowed with the realization that I have not always been so present with my own children.

A wonderful book, STEPS AND STONES, An Ahn’s Anger Story was read next.

The final service this morning consisted of two sittings, a reading from the Dhammapada, and a wonderful dharma talk by Anzen, a Still Point Dharma Teacher who did a fine job leading all services today. Her talk got me thinking about my relationship with stress. (See lumbar and hip trauma above.)

Now I stay in Mouna, noble silence until tomorrow morning. Peace, Jim

Day 2 mileage: 0
Total mileage: 56

Asana (Yoga pose) of the day: Balasana – Child’s Pose (Modified) I rolled up a fleece blanket and pressed it to my lower abdomen, just above my hip bones. As I folded over the blanket and into the pose of the child, I felt several lumbar vertebrae decompress. Ahhhh….

Contemplation from this morning’s family service:
(One round of maum chanting.)
My mind is Love
(One round of maum chanting.)
My mind is Peace
(One round of maum chanting.)
My mind is Wisdom
(One round of maum chanting.)
My mind is Buddha
(One round of maum chanting.)
My mind is Stillness
(One round of maum chanting.)

I Have Arrived. I Am Home. In The Here. In The Now.

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Take Grand River, then turn left on Trumbull. I never would have guessed you could get here from there on just two roads.

On most of Grand River traveling east from Brighton I was a solitary cyclist in a sea of cars. Not particularly unpleasant, just rather impersonal. Vehicular vigilance set to High.

The part of the ride I imagined to be the scariest was actually the friendliest. Entering The City I sailed down the wide boulevard, surprised by the lack of motor vehicle traffic. This area of decaying buildings was alive with people walking, cycling, and sitting at bus stops and in front of store fronts. I was greeted by many smiles, waves, and shouts of encouragement. “Nice bike!”

Turning left on Trumbull, I quickly spotted the prayer flags adorning the entrance of the Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, my home for the night.

I was warmly welcomed by Temple residents and Dharma Students. And after a quick, cold shower I was put to work arranging flowers and setting them on the altar for tomorrow morning’s meditation service. Ahhh…

Deep bow to my old pal Koho Vince Anila. He’s a rabid cyclist (Currently away in West Virginia for a race.) and also happens to be the priest at the Still Point. Upon hearing of my plan, he graciously offered me a room at the Temple for my first night.

Day 1 mileage: 55.6
Total mileage: 55.6

Day 1 Brighton to Detroit

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Ride ON!

Awake at 3:30 and up at 5:00. Not quite the solid night’s sleep I had hoped for. Slow and steady progress was made printing last minute maps, massacring a Michigan map book, divvying up gear and balancing panniers.

I was happy too see dear friend Jacque when she stopped by to bid me farewell. And she gave me her Angel coin for good luck and safe travels!

I rolled out of my driveway at 10:35 and got to the Yoga Center just as the 11:00 Kundalini workshop was starting. Again this was led by guest teachers Moses and Zeina and it was wonderful. Gonna get me a big ol’ gong some day soon!

As I exchanged fond farewells with my fellow Yoginis, I noticed I failed to install the proper adapter on my solar charger. So I rode the five miles back to the house. And while I was there, made use of the Wi-Fi to upload an earlier post.

Soon I was on Grand River Ave. heading east out of Brighton. After a quick stop at the best shop on the planet, Hometown Bicycles, I would ride Grand River all the way to within 6 blocks of my destination on Trumbull St. in downtown Detroit. Not my typical touring terrain!

Chuck Wagon

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Unlike most of my tours, I’ll be traveling mostly paved roads and have plenty of access to food along the way. It would be easy to pack light and just pick up food along the way. But I thrive on high quality, nutrient dense foods not found at the corner 7-11.

So I’ve packed:
8 lbs. grass fed beef jerky I salted and dried at home.
3 lbs. organic walnuts
5 lbs. organic Delget dates
2 lbs. Raw Milk cheese
1 jar organic peanut butter

Although weighty, it’s nice to have these staples at hand, especially since I weighed in at a very low 152 lbs. this morning. Need to keep the calorie intake up!

Gearing Up

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It’s been a two day frenzy getting my gear together since I was laid up much of last week with a sore back. I still found time to participate in Flying Partner Yoga last night with my awesome AcroYoga partner, Sherryl. The event was hosted by Yoga Center for Healthy Living in Brighton and was led by returning guest teachers Moses and Zeina.

So here’s my rig, my magic carpet for the next three weeks:
Nobilette Mountain Bike, built in Ann Arbor in the early 90s.
Smooth rolling Kenda Kwest tires (More about these later.)
Tubus racks front and rear.
Ortlieb Classic Roll-Top panniers.
Clipped on top of the front right pannier is a Solio Rocsta solar charger to keep my phone online.
Clipped on top of the right rear pannier is my Big Sky French press travel mug!

Still need to work out map case placement. That will come naturally once I start rolling in a few minutes.

Two Days!

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For over a year I’ve been looking forward to taking the next three weeks that my daughter is away at camp and touring Michigan solo on my bicycle. So wouldn’t you know an old back injury flared up two weeks ago? This week has been all about rest, ice packs, Physical Therapy, and Chiropractic care. Thank goodness for these skillful caregivers! I’m now back in riding shape and hustling to make a week’s worth of preparation in two days.

Tomorrow I’ll post photos of my gear and bike set-up. The photo above is from my annual Spring tour in the U.P.

Saturday, after attending a Yoga workshop at Yoga Center for Healthy Living in Brighton, I will ride to Detroit and spend the night at the Still Point Zen Buddhist TempleSunday morning I will ride to the Detroit River and turn left. Over the next 20 days I’ll ride around the coast of the Lower Peninsula and if time allows ride around the eastern tip of the U.P.

Ride ON! Jim

River Rats Ride!

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As the test post for this new blog, I wrote a nice review of yesterday’s ride with former Huron High School classmates (River Rats!)

That post was 6 paragraphs and had 7 photos attached. Unfortunately the mobile upload failed and subsequently the post has been lost.

Hopefully this abbreviated version will post. I want to post regularly from the road during my three week bicycle tour of the Mitten state starting Saturday.

Ride ON!