Ride Report 8/21

August 21, 2016

Route: Holland, MI to Grand Haven, MI and back
Distance: 85  miles
Bikes: Soma Stanyan & Soma Grand Randonneur

As the end of August nears, my brother and I are fitting in the last of our summer rides before the fall season.  For years, June through August was our “ride season”, but this year we have the chance to extend our adventures into the fall.  This summer, Sundays have been ride day since we both have that day free.  With nothing but time, we headed towards Lake Michigan and embarked on another great day of riding the shore.  Holland seems to be our new favorite lunching pad for rides.  However, instead of heading South from Holland, we went North for a change.  After fueling up on bagels and coffee, we set off into the cool morning air.  As the ride mileage indicates, this was going to be one of the longer rides of the season.  That being the case, we were diligent in our planning of food/water stops.  The key to this ride was to always stay hydrated/fueled so that our minds could focus on enjoying the ride.  Another bonus to taking plenty of stops is the opportunity to photograph moments along the ride.  Biking along the shore of Lake Michigan offers no shortage of photo worthy scenes.  The following photos highlight our favorite stops along the ride.

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First rest stop as we road North to Grand Haven.  Beautiful tree lined roads along the shore are not uncommon!

 

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Looking East over the Grand River
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Views from a river-side park in Grand Haven
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Bird watching at Spring Lake
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Our Northern turn around point was a great lakeside park.  From the roadway, visitors walked along this winding path to reach the lake.
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Once by the lake, we were treated to great vistas of the lake, sand dunes and the surrounding forest.
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This picnic bench provided a great place to enjoy some snack while taking in the views

After reaching the beach side park, we headed back south along the same general route.  By the end of the ride, we could tell we’d spent almost the entire day on our bikes.  However, careful planning and plenty of food and water kept our spirits high, making for another great day on the bikes.

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Ride Report 8/14

August 14, 2016

Route: Grand Rapids, MI to Lowell, MI and back
Distance: 44  miles
Bikes: Soma Stanyan & Soma Grand Randonneur

Sometimes the best bike rides are the ones that you haven’t planed for or are even thinking about.  That was the case for our latest ride based out of Grand Rapids.  It was Sunday, just after noon when a friend of our asked if we wanted to join in on a out and back ride to a county park 20 miles east of town.  Since we both had the afternoon free, we decided to join in.  Our friend also mentioned that this route would involve some gravel roads, something my brother and I had little experience with.  Rolling out of town was a familiar route, which involved lots of busy street crossing and sharing the roads with higher speed traffic.  The route out of GR was often the reason we had not ventured into the surrounding towns by bike, due to the unknown road conditions (traffic and bike friendliness).  However, with the three of us all riding in a pack it made navigating the busy roads manageable.  Once out of GR, our ride transitioned off the pavement and onto the Gravel!  Recent rainfalls had created a nice hard pack gravel in places, allowing for smooth and dust free travel.  Out in the “country”, beautiful homes dotted the rolling landscape.  It was a welcomed change coming from the busy streets of the city to the quiet gravel roads of the countryside.  While in some sections we rode on paved streets, a majority of the route was on gravel.

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Typical Gravel Roads

Once we arrived at Fallasburg Park in Lowell, we got to see one of the few remaining open covered bridges in Michigan. It was a busy weekend afternoon with lots of people enjoying the nice weather along the Flat River.

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Covered Bridge over the Flat River

Having a new and interesting destination such as this is a great way to design a bike ride.  I always enjoy having a ride destination, no matter how simple it may be.

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View from the Bridge

As we departed from the park, our route home was sightly different, which meant new sights and roads.  The route we took was not particularly hilly, but certainly involved some climbing.  With climbs also come descents, which on gravel roads can be a new experience, requiring more focus and attention to the road surface.  While the gravel is fun to ride on, I really enjoy rides that have a a mix of road surfaces.  Having this variety really adds to the experience of the ride.  Hopefully we will continue to venture onto mixed surfaces in the future and have more gravel ride reports.