|Trace The Mitten|
Today was my second ride of this new year. There are too many variables working against going out for ride this time of year.
We have snow. Our last storm was this past Tuesday. The storm dumped 4 " of snow in my area and came early in the morning that it closed schools and discouraged many from getting out on the roads. Of course, I was not planning to on the road, but I was excited to try the fatbike on the fresh powder. Just as I was ready to get going I heard rain hitting my skylight. The rain continued for hours as a downpour. Now I was out of the mood. I went down to the exercise cycle.
The next days were sloppy with more rain and warming temperatures washed away the snow. Too many puddles and salt on the walks. I hate having to wash the salt off the bike.
Michigan is famous for its potholes. Driving our roads in cars stinks in the winter because of the conditions of the roads. On the warmer days the pothole fixing crews are out and this blocks traffic to extreme congestion.
No one expects the crazy cyclist wanting space on the roads this time of the year. Cyclists that I see out are using pathways, sidewalks. I have not seen a cyclists in my routes of travel for months.
The days are getting longer daylight, but when I am not able to do daytime rides most days.
Carrying the bike on the car rack can get messy for your bike and need cleaning from the road slop before you can have a ride. Sometimes I am not in the mood to pack it in the trunk.
Some days the temps and winds are too drastic to be safe. One day this past week we had gusts of 50 mph. There have been days with single digit temps up to the 20s and it is easy to get a dangerous windchill.
I have four areas that are good for biking this time of year. Most often I will just ride in my neighborhood. It is quick and easy to just hop on the bike to go out the garage. There are nice mountain bike routes three miles west of my place. ( The trails are not used when they are muddy because that destroys the trail environment.) Stony Creek has mountain bike trails and they clear the roads and bike path. The Macomb Orchard trail is 23 miles of paved bike path. (I must transport the bike for the last three options.) I am lucky to have this many outdoor options.
The biggest thing is to make something happen. I try not to beat myself up about the choice that I make. Consistency is one of my strong points. Yesterday I even decided to change the environment and activity by walking the mall.
I just read an article chronicling a cycle tour across the state of Washington using the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and it reminded me of some of my rail trails.
If you have ridden rail trails you know there are several surfaces: cement, asphalt, chip rock ( or whatever you call it), crushed limestone, clay or whatever. The popular frequently used routes will be in the best shape. I am lucky with high quality trail in my community and when I traveled to new areas I found that not all trails are equal.
I remember taking the Polly Ann Trail and rode to the end in one county and across the road the trail was a single track. There was a clear track for several miles until a washout caused me to push the bike up the gully. Municipalities, states and non-profits. Just because the trail is marked on a map it does meet it is maintained. Do your research and don't be surprised.
On my second trace the mitten tour I found two rough trail areas. On the second day I planned to continue south on Interstate 275 path that shadows the expressway. On the first day the path was mowed shoulders, mile markers and smooth pavement. This new section did not have funding to keep up maintenance. My second day had enough good pavement and the bridges were nice concrete to make it very passable. I bet not many have done that feat.
About week later in TTM2 I wanted a change from the sandy roads through National Forest sandy roads and saw a rail trail on the map