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Rochester Hills PCT Bike Club 12/21/2003
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On a beautiful Sunday, the 21 of December 2003, the club went on one of its best rides of the year.  This time we had five participants, Bob, Rich, Pete, Jason and myself.  Our plans were to ride over to Bald Mountain Recreation Area and check out the trails.  I don't know what took us so long to go to Bald Mountain, but I can safely say it will be one of our regular routes.  The trails are perfect for either walking, jogging or as us Rochester Hills PCT Bike Club members like to do, bicycling.

I like to report the weather at the start of each ride summary, it was outstanding, again.  We are definitely very lucky to live in the area we do.  I think Michigan has almost perfect climate year round for those that like to spend time outdoors.  More often than not we have had very nice weather for our rides.  Today it was a bit cool at the start, but it is less than a week until Christmas so cool temperatures should not surprise us.  It was around 25F when we started and by the time we finished it was around 37F.  It was partly cloudy at the start but the sun was out strong for the second half.  The warmer temperatures and sun actually started to melt the snow on the roads and we came across wet muddy roads on the way home.  Everyone other than myself had a line of mud up their backs from their rear tires.  The new and improved home made rear fender I installed on my bike a few weeks ago may look a little weird, but it did its job today.

The other thing we experience for the first time was snow on the roads and paths.  We have talked about riding year round but until we actually tried riding in snow we didn't know what to expect.  It took a few minutes to get the feel for it, but it wasn't bad at all.  I did slip a couple times where I could feel the bike sliding, but I always felt in control and was never concerned about falling.  Today relieved some of our concerns about riding in the snow.  With snow on the ground it is a more strenuous workout.  You do have to pedal a little harder with the increased resistance from the snow.  I think we all enjoyed the additional workout, especially Pete.

We also missed Steve on this ride.  Not only did we miss Steve for the good companionship he provides, but he is our photographer.  There were a few great photo opportunities today, a couple classics by Pete again.  I can honestly say if I did the things that Pete does I would be walking with a limp and probably have one arm in a sling continually.   

We took Dutton to Squirrel Road to head north to Silverbell where we planned to cut over to Kern Road which takes you almost directly to Bald Mountain.  We went west on Silverbell when we should have gone east to get to Kern, this was our first mistake.  After we rode for a while it was obvious we went the wrong way.  Instead of going to Lapeer road and taking it North to the main Bald Mountain entrance, we decided to try a subdivision north of Silverbell.  I didn't know where I was going, which is normal for me so I just followed.  Bob is very creative at blazing new trails, and we used Bob's creativity to its fullest today.  After winding a short ways into the sub we decided to cut through a private residence backyard towards a wooded area that was in the general direction we needed to go.  We have gone off road and created our own trails before so this seemed reasonable to me.  Pete and Jason didn't like this idea at all, I could hear the grumbling behind.  I have to admit I was disappointed when our venture through the woods ended up at a chain link fence as far as we could see both to the left and right.  Well Bob didn't see this as problem, just an opportunity to test out our skills at carrying our bikes over a six foot fence.  Luckily the fence was not supported at the top so we were able to bend it down to make passing the bikes and ourselves over it much easier.  We all carefully climbed over the fence, trying not to get hurt, one by one until it was Pete's turn.  Pete's idea to get over the fence was to make a charging barrel roll to the other side.  Needless to say Pete hit the ground firmly in classic McDonald style.  Pete later told me, "I 
bruised up my right elbow pretty bad and I ended up with a big scratch on my face that is finally gone."  Funny, how the thought of doing a barrel roll over the fence never even occurred to me.  You know the expression of being a fly on the wall to find out what is happening someplace you can't be, well how about a new expression, I call it "Being inside Pete's head" wouldn't that be fascinating to see what is going on.  What I am really interested in knowing are the thoughts that cross Pete's mind that he rules out as being too dangerous or crazy.  Think about that for a minute.  

After climbing the fence we found ourselves on the Bald Mountain golf course.  We were careful not to ride over any greens or tee boxes.  We headed toward the club house where we planned to find the exit and get back on the public road toward the trails at Bald Mountain.  When we got to the exit we found the gates locked.  We were not going to climb these fences, but there was a gap of about a foot and a half at the bottom.  So we slid our bikes under the gate and then slid ourselves under as well.  Pete didn't like this idea he told us there was probably an open gate down further, so he rode down a little further where he found an open gate waiting for him to ride through like he had just parted the Red Sea.  Pete found the easy way out this time.  And as Jason so eloquently stated what we were all thinking, " I hate it when Pete is right."

Next stop the trails.  When we arrived we heard many gunshots ringing through the air.  Bald Mountain has a gun range and hunting is allowed this time of year.  We were a little nervous at first, but we decided we had never heard of any bike riders being shot so we pressed on.  Pete was dressed in all dark clothes and he tends to pull up the rear.  Pete cuts a low profile on his bike so we decided if anyone was going to be mistaken for a deer it would be Pete, which made the rest of us feel just a little bit safer.  I forgot to mention earlier that Pete was trying out his fourth different bike in the last five rides.  Pete has really been struggling with bikes.  For some unknown reason the bikes he uses just seem to fall apart.  This week Pete was using his son Paul's bike.  Apparently Pete broke the bike he was borrowing from Gary, I hope that wasn't a secret.  The funny thing about Gary's bike is Pete had moved it into his kitchen last weekend, seeking a warm area to "fix it".  Well he fixed it all right to the point of it being non-functional and at the same time doing some "very minor" damage to his kitchen floor.

The trails at Bald Mountain were great.  They were covered with snow which had a tendency to hide the raised tree roots and some of the rocks, but again this is not a problem for us very capable bicyclists.  The trails had just enough up hill and down hill to make the ride a nice challenge.  We all enjoyed the trails and we will for sure ride there many times in the future.  For lunch we went to the Wooden Eagle on Lapeer road.  The club highly recommends this place for lunch, the food was good and the pop was high quality.  At lunch Bob mentioned to Pete that it appeared one of his pedals looked funny.  How Bob could single out just one thing that looked funny with Pete's equipment is beyond me.  I am one to make comment, me with my Visor Cogs and helmet perched on top of my head and unique bike, I think I make all nerds feel just a little better about themselves when I ride by.  As my daughter Melissa asked me just before I headed out of the house for today's ride, "Are you going out in public looking like that?"       

The last thing worth mentioning was on the ride home Pete broke the pedal off Paul's bike, big surprise, and he "phoned home" to be picked up.  I think Pete was getting tired and the pedal breaking was the last straw.  We left Pete standing on Gunn Road waiting for Elaine as we rode home.  As I stated earlier this was probably one of the most enjoyable rides we have ever done.   Bald Mountain has fantastic trails.
David Lindquist