Rochester Hills PCT Bicycle Club

July 20, 2006
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The following story was written completely by Pete about a solo ride he did recently.  Thanks Pete, I always enjoy posting a story written by someone else.

It was about 7:45pm on July 20th, 2006 and as usual, there was nothing to do.  I decided that in honor of Michael Collins, I should do a solo ride.  For those of you who are wondering what Michael Collins has to do with this bike ride, you should read to the end of the story and I will explain it.

I intended this to just be a short ride.  My plan was to ride down the Dutton hill to the Paint Creek Trail and just go to Tienken, then ride back home along Tienken and back up through the Fairview area and back home.  I figured it would be about a 45 minute ride.

As I was blasting down Dutton Hill, the weather was perfect and the road was very smooth (for Dutton).  I let loose and reached a peak speed of 37.1 MPH.  I think this is a Dutton record.  If I had went down, I am sure I would have gained 10 pounds or so from rocks being embedded in my skin.  But of course being an experienced rider, I rarely go down and tonight the hill was no problem.    I picked up the Paint Creek Trail and kept up a good pace to Tienken.  I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to keep going.  As I passed under the bridge at Rochester Road, I nearly hit a couple of idiots who wouldn't move over.  Little did I know at this point, that this would not be my only close call of the night.  I gave them a light blast of the air horn and kept on going.  I think the people eating coneys outside of Lapumas were a bit startled.  I am pretty sure one guy shot a chunk of hot dog out of his nose right into his wife's coke.  Fortunately she did not notice. 

As I went behind the library, I was still feeling pretty good and I decided it would be a good night to take in a baseball game.  I didn't want to get tired by riding up the big hill on Rochester so I decided to get on the Clinton River trail over to Livernois.  This is one of our favorite rides and it is very scenic.  Tonight was no exception.  I saw one deer on the road and lucky for him, he moved because I was still setting a blistering pace.  For some reason, I noticed that I had lots of energy this evening so I figured I might as well use it up on a bike ride.  I saw a couple more deer by the side of the trail before I came up to Livernois and Avon road.   I crossed Avon and rode along Avon past the Home Depot .

It was about this time that I figured I would just go for 20 miles.  That would be appropriate given that it was July 20th.   I headed South on Rochester and headed to the Belle Tire.  They usually have a good air pump with a built in gauge.  Since Dave wasn't along with his Burrito Basket full of equipment, I would have to improvise.  Unfortunately, the Belle Tire guys had a crappy nozzle with no gauge.  Rather than risk blowing up my tires, I decided to keep going.  I got a major break when the traffic parted for me so I could cross Rochester without going to a light.  I felt like the Red Sea was parting for me.  Driving through the Target Parking lot is usually a harrowing adventure.  Tonight was no exception.  I was nearly hit a couple of times and I got a little mad.  I know I shouldn't have done it, but I nearly ran over some smart a$$ teenagers crossing to the gag gift store.  They wouldn't move and I decided I wasn't moving either.  I'm happy to report that I won this game of chicken.  I went around back past the courthouse and decided to ride through past the Hampton golf course over to John R and then watch a ball game at Borden Park.  I followed this plan and arrived at the park.

I did notice one thing that may prove useful for readers of this website.  I know some people are like fellow Biker Steve Thomas.  These kind of people like hot food.  At the risk of being politically incorrect, when you ride your bike around the Hampton Circle, you will see lots and lots of Indian couples walking together.  I would guess if you were an outgoing person, you could walk around over here, strike up a conversation, and get some pretty good recipes.

When I arrived at Borden Park, there were 3 games going on.  I watched a kids fastpitch game first.  They were just little kids and I don't think either team was very good.  I think it is safe to say that none of them will ever play in the majors.  I am sure most of them are very good at Playstation or Nintendo baseball, but they sure couldn't play real baseball.  Then I decided to watch the two softball games.  I picked a high seat in the bleachers so I could watch both of them.   I'm sorry to report that none of these teams were very good either.  There were actually a couple of players who threw like girls - wrong foot forward.  I must have seen 4 or 5 fielding errors in about 10 minutes.  I was getting disgusted with the poor play, so I decided it would be best to leave.  I knew if I laughed out loud any more, the girlfriends of the players who were surrounding me would probably sick their dogs on me.  Oh, did I forget to mention all the dogs?  I never realized that dogs like baseball.  There were sure a lot of them at the game.  Maybe the girls with the dogs would rather pay attention to the dogs than watch the pitiful play on the field.   That's only a guess.  I didn't ask.

Anyway, since it was getting dark, I figured I better get started home.   My first order of business was to relieve a little pressure and make a pit stop.  Fortunately, Borden Park has excellent facilities.   Once this objective was complete, I rode around past the Soccer fields, got back on Hamlin, and headed home.   I was about half-way to Rochester Road and I decided I should get back on the Hampton Circle and see if my earlier thought regarding recipes was correct.  This would also get me a little more mileage.  Again, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I should report that what I noticed earlier was absolutely correct.   It was a pretty hot night and at the risk of being even more politically incorrect, I can't understand why anyone would want to take a walk with all those clothes on.

I exited the Hampton Circle and headed North on Rochester.  It is funny that when you are riding, your plans sometimes change when you get a brilliant thought.  Since I had rode about 12 miles, I thought it may be a good time to stop for a beer.  Maybe this thought came up because our favorite establishment, The Hamlin Pub was within sight.  As I was approaching, I realized that I didn't have a bike lock with me.  The coldest beer in the world is not worth losing your Trek 7300 with the air horn, 2 bells, one duck horn, one radio, one headlight, and a trip computer mounted on the handlebars.  (Not to mention the water bottle and Chili Carrier).  Fortunately, I remembered that there was a Dollar Store in the same shopping center.  Against all odds, I decided I would run in quickly and see if they had any bike locks.  Believe it or not, they did have some.  Unfortunately, the quality was pitiful.  I think I would have been better off tieing it up with a piece of kite cord.  What a huge disappointment.  I was crestfallen as I exited the parking lot and headed for home.  I took our new route across Sandalwood and up to Drexelgate.  I kept up a great pace down Drexelgate and nearly wiped out as I cut through the condominium complex.  I followed Livernois up to Walton, past the Greek Island and the cut through by the school.

When I exited the school parking lot, there were 3 kids on bikes and skateboards.   I could see they were admiring my air horn.  As I passed them, one of them yelled "Hey Mister, honk your air horn".  Since I am a friendly person and I like kids, I gave them a friendly honk.  I could hear them laughing and one of the yelled at me to do it again and I gave them another short blast.  Since I was almost home, I thought about emptying the horn with a real loud, long blast but I decided that reason, sanity and above all SAFETY should prevail.  You never know when you will need that air horn.  Little did I know what a good decision I had made.

I crossed Tienken and headed up Tiverton trail on our usual route and checked my speedometer.  I could tell I was not going to make 20 miles if I didn't do a little something extra.  Instead of heading up Grandview, I went over to Brewster and I took the bike path to Dutton and then blasted home on the path.  When I reached Grayslake, I hit the hill at a pretty good pace.  I was actually going too fast to stop and besides that, Paul and his friends were standing in the driveway.   I decided not embarrass Paul and his cool friends.  Since they all drive cars, I am sure Paul would have been embarrassed to have his Dad cruise up in a bike.  It was also at this point that I noticed I was really thirsty.  I decided to go get a big bottle of water at the Shell station on Walton and Adams.  Besides, I still had lots of energy, so I figured why waste it?  May as will ride some more. 

I stopped at the corner of Grandview and Tienken to turn on my lights.  By now, it was pitch dark - about 9:30 or so I had to get batteries out of my radio for my headlight.  I also turned on my dog bone flasher light that Dave hooked to my Chili Carrier.  I rode over to Brewster and headed south.  My mental calculator told me that just going to the Shell station and back would not get me the 10 miles I needed for the 30 mile total.  I decided I would ride past Madonna's house.  This was an easy decision.  I knew she would not be home, but I also knew that it was a long downhill stretch.  Even though I had lots of energy, it is always fun to coast and get up a good head of steam.  As I rounded the bend by Madonna's house, I was flying and I was heading straight for Walton.  I noticed a car coming the other way.  I knew I had my light on, so I figured I was pretty safe.  Then I noticed the car slow down, so I was confident the driver could see me.  I figured he was stopping or turning right into his driveway.  The next thing I knew, he turned right in front of me.  It happened so fast, I did not even have time to blow my air horn at him.  I stopped just a couple of inches from hitting his passenger door.  I was furious.  At this point, I emptied my air horn right and let fly with every word I have ever learned at the golf courses, bowling alleys and racquetball courts.  I am pretty sure that my voice was even louder than the air horn.  It turns out the guy was driving a Ford Escape and I could see that he was smoking.  He was also a big chicken, because he would not get out of his car as long as I was stopped at the end of his driveway swearing at him.  I waited a minute, then rode a house or two down the street.  When he finally got out of his Escape, I started over again and let him have it.   Once I had gathered my wits, I continued on my way.  About 6 houses down, someone was outside on their lawn and when I rode by he asked me what happened.  I told him his #%^&^^ neighbor in the Escape had nearly killed me.

I arrived at the Shell station a few minutes later and bought the biggest water bottle they had.  I was as dry as a sponge.  I slammed down half of it and tried to put it in one of my bottle holders.  It was too big so I took the lid off my regular water bottle, filled it up with the rest of the water I bought and proceeded to throw the empty bottle and my water bottle cap in the garbage can.  That was a real bright move.   I had to reach in the filth and pull it out.  Of course I couldn't use the lid until I washed it so I had to throw it in my pocket until I got home.  Fortunately, my water bottle was big enough where the water didn't slosh out on the rest of the ride.

I headed up Adams and then crossed the street and took Raintree drive over to Falcon and when up through Dave's neighborhood.  It was so dark that I ended up getting lost.  I came out on Adams after passing a small lake that I never knew existed.  I crossed Adams, cut through Brewster school and headed home. 

Well, to make a long story short . . . I knew I might need a little extra riding to hit the 30 mile mark, so when I reached our neighborhood, I took a small detour and finally stopped at the corner of Blue Grass and Dutton.  I parked under a light so I could see my trip computer.  When I was riding, I couldn't see it because it was too dark.   Believe it or not, I was at 30.02 miles.  I hopped back on the bike and coasted down the hill into my driveway.  

As I was riding, it occurred to me that this would be a good test for our 2006 Century ride which will be a night ride.  I would learn if we could see well enough with our lights and I would also be able to tell if the cooler temperatures would help.  I can tell you right now, that our 100 mile night ride is going to be much easier than the ride Dave and I did last year.  Seeing well enough was not a problem.  I do know that we will have to be careful of the idiots in Escapes - I will make sure my air horn is pumped up to full capacity.   The cooler temperatures will make it much easier.  The only problem that I could come up with is the number of bugs.  Once I took off my sunglasses, I kept getting hit in the eyes with bugs.  I will make a note put safety glasses in my Chili Carrier for our 100 mile night ride.  I may also wear some type of bandana to cover my mouth so I don't have to eat so many bugs either.   I will also wear the strap-on headlight on my helmet.  This will help people to see me, but it will also help me to see my trip computer.  I will be able to look down and shine the light right on it.

The more I thought about this historical ride, the more it has become linked with Michael Collins.  I'm sure most of you have now remembered that Collins was the 3rd Astronaut on Apollo 11.  He did not walk on the moon, but he orbited the moon, solo in the Command Module, while Armstrong and Aldrin were on the surface.  The total number of orbits of the moon for Collins and the Command Module was 30.  The same as the number of miles I rode on this solo ride.  What a coincidence.  If you doubt my knowledge of history, check out this site and scroll down a bit to the Departure section:    By the way, July 20th, 1960 was the date of the first landing on the moon.  My bike ride was on the exact date of the  27th Anniversary of the moon landing.

Here is a link showing my route.  Check it out.

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