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

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.

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!

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!

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

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.)

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

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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Dead Birds and the Dirty Ground

On the first few days of this journey, I've seen many more dead birds than on any other ride in memory. Why? Is it my perception? Is it due to riding more urban areas than I am accustomed to? I wonder.

I just rolled into downtown Port Huron and caught a glimpse of the Blue Water Bridge and a sense of the Great Lake that lies beyond. I have many fond memories of being in northern Lake Huron while visiting my beloved Bob-Lo (Bois Blanc Island). Maybe I'll make it that far by this weekend? Who knows? Depends on which way the wind blows.

The wind settled down a little overnight, but was still blowing out of the north. Now in late morning it's fairly calm and I wonder if it might turn around later. 11 mph was my cruising speed earlier, but I settled in to a nice 15 mph clip in the last half hour.

By the pavement markings I noticed I've been following part of the Blue Water Ramble bicycle tour route. That was nice since it led me on a more scenic route at times than I may have taken using my map.

I'm sitting at Raven Cafe downtown, which is cool, so that I can charge my phone, which is a drag. Not only am using the phone to log these posts, I need it in case of emergency.

While I'm in town I'll see if Verizon can forward a new battery for me to a dealer down the road a ways. I'll stop at the local bike shop and buy ANOTHER eyeglass mounted rear view mirror. (Note to self – determine a good place to store it at night. Then remember!) And finally a stop at the local of outdoor gear store for a summer weight sleeping bag. My minimalist sleeping gear didn't cut it last night and I was cold from 1:00 on. I guess there is at least one disadvantage to being so lean!

Wishing you happiness on your journey, Jim

Song stuck in my head:
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by White Stripes

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Day 4: Algonac to White Rock

I ended up spending the better part of four hours in Port Huron, but got some issues resolved, including procuring a new phone battery. I also got a sturdy, waterproof bag, now hung on my handlebar to hold my real camera. This will allow me to take higher quality photos more quickly, since I won't have to wait for my phone to boot every time.

I found Port Huron to be quite nice and I'm wondering if I had ever been in the city proper. I've driven over the Blue Water Bridge a few times. And when Jim Miller first started Willow Winds, he held the first couple of Michigan Outdoor Survival Schools nearby on the Pine River.

That reminds me, I should drop in on Jim when I get up near Mikado later this week. He moved Willow Winds up there probably 18 years ago and the last time I saw him was when I taught an atlatl and dart making class up there for M.O.S.S. about 10 years ago.

Speaking of the Stone Age I passed through Port Sanilac this afternoon. Before knowing I would spend so much time in Port Huron, I had hoped to see the famous Sanilac Petroglyph. Michigan's most well known (only known?) petroglyph depicts a man with a crazy hat, drawn bow, and long dong. Seriously. Look it up. If I had been around back then, I could have been the model. I have a crazy hat, a bow, and uh, Next Topic!

I found my first tool in the road today. On just about every one of my tours I find some sort of tool. (What is the Universe telling me?) I always pick them up and pack them home. That was easy with this dainty little 3/8 X 7/16 combo open-end wrench. Not so easy when you find a decades old 12" Crescent adjustable wrench. I've found two of those heavy suckers. If I find a bench vise I hope it's in 17 days and within 100 yards of home.

I finally left Port Huron at 2:30 with only 35 miles on the tripmeter. But even though I rode into an increasingly stronger headwind all afternoon, I started to find my cadence. I'm finally pedaling in circles.

I picked a point on the map where I thought there might be a pretty place to hang my hammock on the shore of Lake Huron and of rode into the evening to get here. Nice view, eh? I'll be witness to a spectacular sunrise tomorrow!

Good night! Jim

Day 4 mileage: 93.9
Total trip mileage: 229

Asanas (Yoga poses) of the day:
Marjayasana/Bitilasana – Cat/Cow on and off the bike. On the bike, keep the pedals parallel to the road. Do an equal number with each foot in the forward position.

Song stuck in my head:
Sober by Tool

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