Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Climate Ride Training Update #4

Climate Ride Training Update Week 15: Michigan
Miles: 30

My dad has lived in the same town his whole life. But when I took him biking on the nearby rail-trail last year, he was surprised he had missed something in his own backyard. I suspect it's the same for many people in auto-centric Southeast Michigan. My mom and I encountered very few people on yesterday's ride on the Macomb-Orchard Trail that runs from busy, suburban Rochester Hills to rural Richmond 25 miles away. It's a shame because many of the trail amenities were nicer than those I've encountered around DC: benches and info boards with maps at nearly every intersection, tire pumps (in Rochester Hills), and bathrooms (!) every few miles.

Sprawling SE Michigan is not a very friendly place for cyclists or pedestrians (Paul Krugman and one of my favorite bloggers Angie Schmitt - even suggest that Detroit's persistent problems are primarily the result of sprawl). I commend the cheery soul on an adult cargo trike I saw Sunday morning pedaling along the vast Northwood Shopping Center parking lot by Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak, and the lonely figure traversing another vast (and empty) parking lot by the Summit Place Mall (a dead mall) in Pontiac. In this place that continues to be wholeheartedly designed for cars, a few (often by necessity) doggedly get around without one.

Try riding a bike here
Still, there are some bright spots. Michigan has the most rail-trail miles in the country. Detroit's bike (and bike manufacturing) scene is growing. Some of the inner-ring suburbs (like Royal Oak) are adding bike lanes. Blogs like ModeShift and Rust Wire are challenging the status quo and imagining a better future for the region. It's not enough to undo the damage, but maybe one day our built environment will aspire to the beauty of the state's unparalleled natural environment.

Swamp forest on the eastern end of the Clinton River Trail

Peaches in Romeo

Beginning of the Macomb Orchard Trail, on the mountain bike I got when I was about 15 years old

Chicory and Loostrife? 

Mom checking the info board in Washington Township


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Climate Ride Training Update #3

Climate Ride Training Update Week 11: Sligo Creek
Miles: 80-ish

Sligo Creek Trail: Winding, Narrow and Forested

I've been lax on the training updates; actually on training in general after a bout of food poisoning a few weeks ago. But as soon as I started feeling better, I got back in the saddle. My roommate and training buddy Audrey is in Nebraska and Colorado for two weeks, but my fellow Climate Rider Danny has also been hitting the trails, so I joined him on Friday for a 25-mile ride near his home in Silver Spring, MD on Sligo Creek Stream Valley Trail.

The trail runs about about 11 miles between Wheaton, MD and Bladensburg, MD, ending at the Anacostia River.

Compared to the Capital Crescent, this trail is pretty quiet. It also requires more attention because of the constant turns and narrow, bumpy surface.

The trail runs alongside, you guessed it, Sligo Creek (which flows into the Anacostia, and eventually the Potomac). But rather than stick to one side of the creek, the trail frequently hops back and forth across the creek over many wooden bridges.

I suspected the name hearkens to the Irish county of the same name and the ever-reliable Wikipedia confirms this:

"Sligo Creek was named after the crossroads named "Sligo" founded in the mid 19th century by Irish immigrant workers on the C&O Canal. "

John Fahey, a DC musician, also wrote a song about the creek. Covered here by Devendra Banhart, it makes the creek sound lazier than it actually is:

My riding buddy Danny happens to be the Legislative Director for Citizens Climate Lobby, one of the organizations we're raising money for. Along with our friend Sieren and two other Climate Riders, we're hoping to collectively raise $12,000 for CCL. Your donation has already got us to 45% of our goal, so thanks! CCL is also going to be training people during the Climate Ride about how they can make an impact when they visit over 100 Congressional offices at the conclusion of the ride in DC. I interviewed Danny in June at the CCL conference where he talked about why it's so important to put a price on carbon and what it's like to lobby Congress on climate change:

Back to the ride:

One of the trail's ubiquitous little bridges

Danny on Sligo Creek Parkway