In this issue:
- Coffee What? (Jacob Blumner)
- YES, Michigan has Lots of Good People! (Rich Dykstra)
- Warmers (David Zipf)
- Domino’s Giving Tuesday Donation to LMB (Megan Lentz)
- What We’re Thankful For… (LMB Staff)
Welcome to the very first issue of Michigan Bicyclist Mini (MBM), your new go-to newsletter for shared information, stories, and advice on all things bicycle safety, education, and infrastructure from fellow members of the community.
This bi-monthly digital publication will act as a channel for members of the community to connect and will be fun, useful stuff from the bicycling community for the bicycling community. We want to hear from YOU. If it’s about biking, we hope you’ll send it in for future issues! We’re currently accepting submissions on a rolling basis. Please submit to [email protected].
We’re also bringing back a similar publication for MMBA’s trail and gravel cyclists, Bent Rim Bugle. Both of these community newsletters aim to provide a platform for ALL bicyclists to share with and inform one another on all things biking.
Submitted by Jacob Blumner
“Coffee what?” I asked my friend Nathan. “Coffeeneuring,” he replied. I’d never heard of such a thing, but it combined two of my favorite loves: coffee and cycling. Invented by the creator of the Chasing Mailboxes blog, the Coffeeneuring Challenge, now in its 13th year, irreverently encourages cyclists to spend time on their bikes as the weather cools to seek out coffee.
The challenge has 12 simple and sometimes humorous rules, but the goal is to ride a bike a minimum of two round-trip miles to get a coffee or similar beverage. To complete the challenge, riders have to make at least seven trips to at least six different locations of their choosing between October 7th and November 20th. Locations could even include a park to enjoy a thermos of coffee.
Those completing the challenge can purchase a patch if they want. There are social media outlets to share rides and experiences, too, so it builds a nice community. You can learn more about this year’s challenge here.
Time and life constraints kept me close to home for my coffeeneuring, but I’m lucky to live in Flint, where there is a plethora of choices. Most of my rides were under 10 miles, where I wound my way around the city, on the Flint River Trail, past (and in for a coffee at Penny’s) the Flint Farmers Market, sometimes through the Cultural Center, and past the Applewood Estate. On one trip, I rode on part of the newly rebricked Saginaw Street downtown.
My favorite destination is always The Good Beans Cafe on Grand Traverse Ave., but I managed to hit six other excellent spots over the course of the month, as required. The challenge was great motivation for me to get on my bike more and to tip a cup with friends. I also enjoyed seeing the trips other people took across the world.
By the time you’re reading this, it will be too late to participate this year, but I hope to see you on the road next year. If I see you and you remember this story, the first cup of joe is on me.
YES, Michigan has Lots of Good People!
Submitted by Rich Dykstra
A planned camping trip up north led to an emotional rollercoaster when my bike went missing. No, it wasn’t stolen. My six-year-old carbon-fiber road bike jumped off the RV trailer and on to the road surface while we were cruising along at 70 mph. And I didn’t know it!
The trip was a relatively short one for my wife and I: just an extended weekend camping along a lake in northern Michigan, only 170 miles from our home. We felt pretty relaxed about the trip, having prepared for many camping trips like this in the past. This was no big deal. On the plus side, there was a one-day biking event that I had signed up for with about 500 other bikers, riding around the beautiful northern Michigan countryside in the fall. What could be better? My entry fee was paid, all I had to do was bring my bike (and helmet).
On the way north, we stopped once for lunch. While munching on my sandwich I checked the rig over carefully like I always do. Everything was tight and orderly as I expected it to be. We got back in the truck and motored north on the freeway without incident…Until we arrived at the campsite.
After backing into the campsite, I looked at the trailer and saw no bike. The bike and the bike carrier were both gone! Well, the top half of the carrier was gone…the bottom half was still attached to the trailer. It had broken off at a (inadequate) weld. The steel had separated! I was in shock. Dumbfounded! Crying! This was my favorite bike. I’ve had it for six years; there were over 5,000 miles on it! I was planning to give it to my granddaughter upon my passing. It left me without so much as saying “goodbye,” “so long,” “it’s been grand.” How could it do that? I was heartbroken.
We immediately unhooked the trailer and re-traced our route looking for the bike along the side of the road. Most of our trip north was on a freeway, but a third was on two-lane state highways & county roads, some of which can be anything but smooth. But we never heard anything as we were driving north. Never felt anything unusual. No unusual bumps; it was a bright sunshiny day, no rain. No reason for it to fall off. There was no visible damage to the trailer. It was like it had just lifted off and went “poof.” We were beyond perplexed. I conjectured that if it fell off, it went to the right towards the shoulder of the road rather than to the left into the oncoming traffic lane as I would certainly have seen it fall by my (left side) rearview mirror. Also, if it fell to the left and into oncoming traffic, it certainly would be damaged, possibly even causing a crash by oncoming cars or trucks.
As it was late and nearly dark when completing only half of our return trip, we turned around and headed back to the trailer. I was despondent. Inconsolable. My dear wife…she tried but could not cheer me up.
After a nearly sleepless night, I arose early the next morning, got in the truck, and retraced the route again. This time I went all the way back to our lunchtime rest stop before heading north again. At this juncture, I was looking for anything. My whole bike would be great, but even just pieces of it…the saddle, a pedal, a light, something from the seat bag, anything would be helpful. I would at least know that I was not dreaming and the bike really did fall off the trailer and someone picked it up.
I continued to retrace the entire trip all the way back to camp. I spent the entire day driving around looking for my bike: I looked in people’s yards as I drove by; I looked in gas stations; I snooped everywhere along the route. NOTHING! ZIP! ZERO! Not a thing turned up. The bike had disappeared.
I had a miserable weekend. And a couple of lousy weeks. After returning home, I put an ad in the LOST-AND-FOUND of a statewide list service frequented by lots of people. I included a monetary reward with the ad. I also posted in the LOST-AND-FOUND on Facebook.
Over the next few days, I kept looking on both Facebook and the popular list serve for bikes for sale, thinking that maybe someone would try to sell the bike or its parts.
A week after placing my ad, I got a call! A truck driver with a thick southern accent I could barely understand said, “I got your bike.” He was calling from southern Illinois on his way to Oklahoma. I was desperately glad to hear from him. He said he bought it from some guy for $70 and would ship it to me, using a local bike shop to have it packaged up. All I had to do was send him $200 via Western Union to cover his costs. I took the bait! I was desperate to get my bike back. “No,” he replied when I asked him to send a photo of the bike. He couldn’t take a picture because he was on his boss’s phone. “He doesn’t want pictures taken with it.” Made no sense, right? I was okay with it, though. After all, I was desperate! I drove to the local grocery store and wired him $200.
I waited. And waited. And waited. I kind of knew I had been taken advantage of even as I wired the money. I became more and more certain of it as three days, four days, then five days went by and no package arrived on our front steps. The truck driver didn’t return my calls. He had suckered me.
I’m in a tailspin. Emotionally wrung out. I resigned myself to the idea that I would never see the bike again. In fact, I said to the universe, “you can have the bike. I hope the next rider enjoys her like I did. I hope the bike serves him or her well. That bike gave me lots of joy. I hope it gives the next rider fair winds and Godspeed.” That became my mantra. I repeated that mantra in my head several times a day for the next several weeks. I even believed it…sort of…sometimes. I wanted to put positive energy out in the universe in spite of my conflicted and screwed up feelings. “Afterall,” a friend told me, “you can always get another bike. Yes, this one has sentimental value to you, but the next one will as well.”
Six weeks went by before I got another call! I was in the habit of not answering calls when the caller ID gave me a number, not a familiar name. This time, however, I did answer the phone. “Hello,” the caller said. “Is this Rich Dykstra?” I replied in the affirmative. He stated his name and said, “Rich, I’ve got your bike.” I’ve heard that before, so I’m skeptical. “Where do you have the bike?” I asked. “It’s in my garage,” he explained, “and I’ve had it for several weeks!”
An ecstatic 10-minute conversation later, I’ve established that the caller, who I’ll call “Roger,” is indeed on the up and up. He tells me how he picked up the bike from the side of the freeway on the same afternoon that it fell off our trailer. According to Roger, the bike is scratched up a little bit, but does not have any major damage. He texted me a picture. “That’s it!” I yelled. I was pumped!
Because of his work schedule, Roger and I arranged for me to pick it up at his house the following day. He had removed the bike from the broken carrier and the bike was totally fine. The left-hand drop bar was scratched and some of the wrap had been torn off, the shifter lever was off-center, and the left clip-on pedal was scratched. That was the only damage done to the bike! The wheels were true, the tires were still inflated, the disc brakes operated just fine, both derailleurs functioned normally.
When we got home, I took her for a ride. Everything was normal! I couldn’t believe it! I had given up on this bike and it had been in Roger’s garage all along. He shared that he had looked online everywhere, searching for the owner of the bike because he could see that it was expensive. Roger called me the same day his sister-in-law sent him a link to my LOST-AND-FOUND ad, some six weeks after he had discovered my bike on the side of the road.
If Roger hadn’t picked up the bike, it certainly would have been run over by passing traffic and damaged beyond repair or worse, taken by someone not as trustworthy and honest as Roger. While searching for me, Roger had even contacted the manufacturer of my bike to see if the serial number was registered in the owner’s name (it wasn’t registered because I didn’t know I could do that). The world is full of honest, forthright people like Roger. These are the kind of people we bikers find everywhere in this state.
Thanks to a few other lessons learned, from this experience, I’ve permanently attached my name and phone number to the bike, registered all of my bikes in my name with their manufacturers, and switched to a more reliable bike carrier for my RV trailer!
Editor’s Note: Consider registering your bike with a bicycle registration service like Bike Index to help recover your bike in the event that it is lost or stolen.
Submitted by David Zipf
As the temperatures change this fall, we need to keep our joints warm. Before you reach for the tights and long sleeve jersey, you may be better served by arm and knee or leg warmers. These are essentially sleeves for your limbs that pull on to keep the arms and legs warm.
Warmers are made of nylon spandex, wool, and other fabrics similar to other go-to cycling clothing. They are stretchy and held up by elastic. If temperatures rise and you heat up on your ride, you can easily slide them off and store them in a pocket. While it’s easy to remove arm warmers while you’re riding, attempting to remove leg warmers while pedaling is strongly discouraged.
As ambient temperature dips, your limbs can get cold from the higher wind chill and air rushing by while on the bike. It may seem warm in the sun, but the cool air causes your blood vessels to constrict. The lowered blood flow may lead to injury. While your arms aren’t creating much power for cycling, cold arms can be an uncomfortable distraction. Covered by only a few millimeters of skin, the knees are also susceptible to the cold and can become intolerably sore.
When you get cold, your body redistributes blood volume to the core and reduces blood flow to the muscles, causing increased stroke volume and small changes in heart rate. This means the body will devote extra energy to keeping itself warm and less blood to the legs.
According to Colin Levitch in his article, “The science behind warmers” on BikeRadar.com, “it’s okay to be cold for a one-off performance, but for day-in and day-out training, you are better off protecting yourself from the elements because it not only puts extra stress on your vascular system, but is also taxing on your immune system.”
In addition to keeping you warm and helping ward off health issues and discomfort, arm and leg warmers may be a cheaper alternative to tights and long sleeve jerseys for the shorter spring and fall seasons.
Pro cyclists will sometimes race bare-kneed, but they often use balms and oils to keep themselves protected all while putting out higher power and body heat. While the pros may be more willing to risk their joints in harsh conditions, many if not most of us cyclists are not riding at a pro level and could benefit from protecting our limbs by including warmers in our cold weather riding gear.
Domino’s Giving Tuesday Donation to LMB
Submitted by Megan Lentz, Domino’s Community Relations Specialist
My name is Megan and I’m with the corporate community relations team at Domino’s. Each November, we conduct an internal initiative wherein our team members across the country get to nominate and vote for nonprofits that they would like Domino’s to make a donation to for Giving Tuesday. I’m happy to announce that your organization, League of Michigan Bicyclists, was elected by our team members to receive a donation of $2,500.
On behalf of our Domino’s team members, thank you for all the wonderful things you do for the community! Your organization received a large number of votes, so I know the work you do truly means a lot to our team members. Many of our urban, in-store team members deliver pizzas via bikes, so the cause is very important!
*From everyone at LMB, thank you to the Domino’s team for nominating and electing LMB to receive this generous Giving Tuesday donation. We were elated to hear how meaningful our efforts are to Domino’s team members, especially those who make deliveries via bikes!
What We’re Thankful For…
Having celebrated Thanksgiving last week, LMB staff took a moment to reflect on what we’re thankful for:
Nicky Bates, Development and Membership Director
Gina Apone, Communications Coordinator