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.

PedalGR Flyer

I was reminded this evening while distributing flyers in East Hills that I hadn’t posted the flyer I made in the blog. Please, download this flyer, print it out, and post it wherever they will have it! Email it to friends! Tell your neighbors. Wrap someone’s birthday present in it. Whatever gets the word out.

Thanks!

Click here for large printable version

Click here for smaller emailable version

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Surprise, You’re in Print

I was pleasantly surprised when I was riding home from work and received a call from Jeff Festian, El Presidente of the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club. He was excited to tell me that my little bike ride had made the side panel of today’s GR Press. I had no idea I was getting any extra publicity, but am thankful for it.

So, if you’re here because of the Press mention. Welcome! I hope you can join us tomorrow. The weather looks likely to cooperate *knock on wood*. Also, bookmark http://www.pedalgr.com, where this site will hopefully be moving in the next couple of weeks (right now it forwards you to amyandjosh.net/pedalgr).

Be sure to check out the route and cuesheet posted below. You can click on “Routes” or “Cuesheets” to the right side of this page, or “Cadences” to read about the first two PedalGR rides. Then check out the many links and “how-tos” I’ve posted on the right side and sign up for the email notification when future PedalGR routes are published.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you tomorrow night at 6:30! (The Press said 6:15, and that is when people will generally start gathering.)

6/11/08 – PedalGR Cuesheet

I have GREAT news!  Kristin Tindall, Ecology Education Coordinator at Blandford Nature Center will be joining us for the ride on Wednesday.  When we arrive at Blandford, she’ll give us a short tour of their farm and garden and then will unlock the viewing tower at the wetland area, a very short walk from the road.  Thank you Kristin!

Also, riders will have the option of riding down the pedestrian tunnel under I-196.  You can then wait for us at John Ball Park, or if you’re really feeling energetic, climb back UP the hill and join us at the scenic Sunset Ave downtown skyline overlook.

Here is the cuesheet for Wednesday’s ride.  We got a full page this time to make sure that the turn-by-turn directions are more readable, in case someone accidentally is separated from the group.  At PedalGR we spare no expense. 🙂

6/11/08 - PedalGR Map

6/11/08 - PedalGR Cuesheet

Download PDF: 6/11/08 – PedalGR Map & Cuesheet PDF

Route Ideas

This is the interactive part of the PedalGR, where you tell me where you want the next rides to go.  Here are a few ideas I’ve been batting around in my head:

  • Riverside Park and surrounding neighborhoods
  • Tour de Hummus – this is my favorite but also the most work.  I would ideally like to line up 6-8 restaurants that serve hummus and are willing to serve up some samples to our riders.  We would ride from one place to another sampling the hummus and then there would be a vote at the end.
  • Heritage Hill – A ride focusing on the streets and houses of one of the largest continguous historic districts in the nation.
  • Downtown GR – This ride would stay close to home and focus on exploring the downtown and immediately surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Alleys of Grand Rapids – This ride would focus on touring the backalleys of Grand Rapids, exploring the more up-close and personal side of the houses and yards of the city.
  • School tour – This ride would focus on visiting as many schools as possible in a couple of sections of town.  With enough lead time, I could try to arrange for a tour of one or two facilities.
  • Ice Cream – Everyone loves ice cream.  This ride would visit a couple of my favorite places, and pass by a few more.
  • Garden Tour – Pick and choose a few spectacular gardens in different neighborhoods and visit them up close.
  • Photography Tour – Pick 3-4 ideal sites and spend 15-20 minutes at each doing a sort of mini-photowalk where the focus is taking pictures of the site.
  • Millenium Park and Orchard Tour – Ride Kent Trails to Millennium Park and then visit an orchard or two just to the NW.

So, I want your feedback.  Which ideas do you like?  Which don’t you like?  Would you be willing to help organize a particular ride?  What great neighborhood, site, or idea am I missing?  I’d love to see lots of comments following this entry.  Don’t disappoint the ride captain! 🙂