6/11/08 – PedalGR Cadence

City. Nature. Tree frogs. And crazy men armed with beer and hoses. This ride had it all. Temperature was quite warm, in the low 80s and muggy. But there was lots of blue sky and we were on our way.

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Approximately 25 people left Founder’s and headed passed Blues on the Mall on our way to the Westside. After going through GVSU’s Pew Campus and the downtown YMCA, we headed north. It’s becoming a tradition that the PedalGR route makes you feel like you’re going in circles at least once. St. Mary’s Catholic church was the excuse this time.

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Also passed The Clique, my favorite 2 story bowling alley.

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A little ways north we past by one of the landmarks of GR for those passing through on I-196. St. Adalbert’s green dome is highly visible and memorable. But, the church is even more fantastic up close and personal.

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Heading north on Davis, we eventually ran into Harrison Park Elementary School, a fantastic looking school I had no idea existed before planning this ride. We later learned that there is a Mixed Greens garden located there.

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It’s not everyday that a scary gang of 25 rogue bicyclists rides by your house. This guy ran out and was trying to offer us an Old Milwaukee Light for our trip (his identity was hidden by the tree to save him the public embarrassment). Surprisingly, he had no takers. 🙂 Guess we are all beer snobs in this group.

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At this point, we were randomly joined by two cyclists who had been on their way to Riverside Park and points north “to get a few miles in,” but bravely decided to join us instead. Of course, I’m terrible with names, so I’ve forgotten them. We passed by Richmond Park and through Washington Park Memorial Gardens, a beautiful little cemetery just to the west.

Just before we stopped at West Catholic High, we had a pedal unclipping incident. No bloodshed though. Guess maybe I should pack that First Aid Kit. Couldn’t stop for too long though, it was hot without the breeze of riding.

After cutting through the parking lot at Unity Church, we ran into some unexpected construction. Walker Ave, which had been paved a week ago was now dirt and gravel. Then the rear entrance to St. Ann’s Retirement Community was fenced off, also open a week ago.

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Then we hit the expected construction. Slow and easy on the sidewalk. Apparently one rider fell on a dip, but was okay and caught up with us at Blandford. That’s where the fun began. We started off with half the group in the tower and the other half exploring the bobbing, floating boardwalk. It was pretty awesome. Great views.

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Kristin Tindall, ecology educator at Blandford Nature Center had been riding with us. She opened the tower and gave us a short overview of the wetland, pointing out the spice bush butterflies, the tree frogs, and the distinctive green frogs that had not quite started their dusk time chorus, yet.

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I believe that is Kelly posing for the camera.

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After touring the historic farm area and heirloom garden near the visitor’s center we headed off. We missed the farm plot that Mixed Greens uses as an educational tool to teach school kids about the connection between the food and the land. I’ll be sure to find it when I come back (and you can bet I’ll be back).

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Heading south, we went all the way down 7th St, a nice wide road, great for bicycling (can’t say the same for Collindale, with a good amount of traffic and no shoulder at all.) This is one of those streets just begging for bicycle lanes. We passed a high rise on Bridge St where an 84 year old gentleman recently started his room on fire with a cigarette and passed away from the smoke. Next up was the Sunset Ave overlook with a fantastic view of downtown.

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DOWNHILL! Down the Bridge St. hill, past Lincoln Park and it’s pool and past John Ball Park and Sacred Heart Church. Just before we got to Fulton, we had a crazy old man who decided we looked hot and sprayed a number of our group with his hose. No photos of crazy old guy. :/

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We headed back to Wealthy, over the bridge and back towards Founder’s. An errant turn on my cuesheet had a few of us who were off the back of the group, with Rapid Wheelmen president and volunteer sweeper Jeff Festian, taking the scenic route up and over 131. However, everyone made it back safe and sound and a good dozen or more stayed to enjoy a cold beer and good company after a hot ride.

Had two people that I know of show up because of the blurb in Tuesday’s Grand Rapids Press, so thank you to the mystery person at the Press who listed my ride in the YourLife section. Glad they could make it and I hope they join us again (yeah, bad with names).

More photos on Flickr. All photos taken by Amy except at Sunset Ave overlook.

If you have photographs you would like to contribute, email them to me at fotoman311 ( AT ) yahoo.com and I’ll add them to the Flickr set.

If you have any comments on the ride, don’t be bashful, post them below.

5/28/08 – PedalGR Cadence

FANTASTIC!  That’s what the weather was like when approximately 15 bicyclists left Founder’s for our tour of northeast Grand Rapids.  A huge blue sky above us and temps in the low 60s, perfect bicycling weather.

 When Amy and I arrived riding “the contraption,” at 6:10 there were a few people already waiting.  This was a good sign.  I’m going to try and remember names, but I probably will forget a few, so I apologize.  Keep coming and I’ll eventually catch on. 🙂  We had Linda, Tad, Kristina, Mark H., Kane, Ellie, Nate, Veronica, Chris, and a few others whose names have escaped me.  A good mix of Rapid Wheelmen members, WMMBA members, and others who just found the ride through word of mouth.

Continue reading “5/28/08 – PedalGR Cadence”

5/14/08 – PedalGR Cadence

The inaugural PedalGR went off without a hitch! I wasn’t sure how many people to really expect, since I had only publicized the ride through the Rapid Wheelmen ride calendar, the internet, and word of mouth. Plus, there just happened to be a giant Obama rally and some chilly, cloudy weather.

Happily, people did show up. Mary, who recognized me from a WMMBA (West Michigan Mtn. Biking Assoc.) meeting was the first. Then my wife Amy, Becky and her son Logan, and Paul slowly trickled in by around 6:20. Paul was having dérailleur issues, and wasn’t able to join us for the ride.

We headed off around 6:30 (I’m planning to start on time for future rides) and headed up the hill for our first big climb. The first major site was the recently restored former D.A. Blodgett Home for Children. This is far and away one of my favorite buildings in the city. They did a FANTASTIC job restoring it.

We then wandered through Ottawa Hills, admiring all the beautiful brick houses. The route looped back on itself to go past the Iroquois School (on sale for only $3 million), so it didn’t just SEEM like we were going in circles, we actually were.

Approaching the halfway point, we went down the big hill on the gravel section of Reeds Lake Blvd, passing by the infamous Dr. Stokes’ 10,000 sq. ft mansion. Other highlights included passing GR Christian High, the former Catholic Archdiocese building, and rolling down Buchanan with the downtown skyline, and Founder’s off in the distance. The sun had finally come out and the light on the buildings was beautiful.

I’m sorry that I don’t have any photos. I will make this a priority for the next ride. Feel free to bring your small cameras as well to take on bike shots.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and/or has expressed an interest in the ride. Please spread the word and bring a friend.   This is a slow ride, made to get the people who say “I don’t want to do a group ride because I’ll just hold them up” out on their bicycles.  The more the merrier and I will make sure that no one gets dropped and left on their own.

I’ll post the next route by Monday or Tuesday. The May 28th route is NE Grand Rapids and includes a cobblestone road, a giant earth sculpture, and a couple short sets of stairs (going down of course).