Some Great Ann Arbor Bike Rides

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Some Great Ann Arbor Bike Rides
Looking for some scenic places to ride your bike? There are many here in the Ann Arbor area.

The most popular ride, by far, is Huron River Drive. You can get to it from North Main Street, Maple,
Wagner, or Zeeb Roads. Most cyclists head west to Dexter (about 10 miles from Main Street) and turn
around, but many make shorter trips to Delhi or Dexter-Huron Metro Parks, while others extend their trips
to Chelsea or points further west. The trip parallels the river most of the way, and is gently rolling with
only a couple of fairly steep but short hills. If you go early on a summer morning you are likely to see
several deer along the way. A good way to get started on this route is to join the Ann Arbor Bicycle
Touring Society on their Saturday morning breakfast ride: check this column or the AABTS web site
( for start times.

If you like to look at pretty houses, the Devonshire-Arlington neighborhood is delightful. It is easily
accessed from the Gallup Park bike path by crossing the railroad tracks and Geddes Road through the little
access park to Devonshire. You‟ll want to have a low gear on your bike, because some of the hills are
rather steep.

If you have a mountain bike, there are many dirt roads just outside of town which are very pleasant and
have little traffic on them. Warren Road between Earhart and Whitmore Lake Road is one of my favorites
on the north side of town.

Team in Training
Interested in getting in shape, learning the finer points of cycling, helping out a worthy cause, and meeting
lots of great people? The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‟s Team in Training Program is just the ticket.

I participated in Team in Training in 2001. I started training and fundraising in February, and by June I had
raised $3600 and was able to complete a 100-mile (“century”) ride around Lake Tahoe. The experience was
wonderful and I met a lot of great people. Over the years Team in Training has raised over ? million dollars
to fight leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related cancers. In addition to cycling, Team in Training also
has running, walking, triathlon, and inline skating programs, all of which culminate in an exciting trip to an
exotic location to complete a marathon or similar endurance event.

This spring, Team in Training is going to America‟s Most Beautiful Bike Ride at Lake Tahoe, the San
Diego Suzuki Rock „n‟ Roll Marathon, and the Anchorage Marathon. Contact Jeff Laskowski at ? for more

Hamburg-Stockbridge Rail Trail
Some cyclists are intimidated by the traffic on many area roads, and are looking for a peaceful, scenic
alternative ride. Joining a nationwide trend, Washtenaw County has its own “rail trail.” This is an old
railroad right-of-way which has had the tracks and ties removed to become a linear park. Washtenaw
County‟s rail trail starts in Hamburg and goes west through Pinckney, continuing on to Stockbridge in
Ingham County.

A mountain bike, or at least a fat-tire city bike, is required for riding on the gravel surface of the rail trail.
Because it was a railroad, the path is very flat and has few curves, which makes it either very peaceful or
somewhat monotonous depending on your mood. The day I rode the trail I started in Hamburg and rode
west to about seven miles past Pinckney. When I turned around, I spotted another cyclist way ahead of me,
probably more than a mile. Being the competitive sort, I put the bike in a higher gear and took of chasing
him. It took me about six miles to catch him; it helped that he didn‟t know he was being chased!

The rail trail is excellent for families riding together. There is little bike or foot traffic on the path, and road
crossings are infrequent (although crossing M-36 east of Pinckney was a harrowing experience). The
portion of the trail west of Pinckney is a state park and is better maintained than the part between Pinckney
and Hamburg. There is parking at the old railroad depot on ___ just north of downtown Pinckney.

The Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society
Joining a bicycle club is a fun way to learn more about cycling and put in a lot of miles. In this area, the
Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society (AABTS) is the largest and most active club with approximately 800
members. They have group rides throughout the year, including almost every day from April through
November. The Saturday morning rides out Huron River Drive to the Dexter Bakery and points beyond are
very popular, with over ? riders on some days. The club keeps track of riders‟ mileage: in 2001 one
member participated in 227 club rides totaling over 11,000 miles!

The club also promotes cycling rights, safety and education. Every summer the AABTS organizes “One
Helluva Ride,” a collection of tours of various distances through rural Washtenaw, Ingham, Jackson and
Livingston counties, including a visit to beautiful Hell, Michigan.

To find out more about AABTS or to become a member ($15 annual dues), visit their wonderful web site,, or pick up a flyer at one of the local bike shops. You can also find out about upcoming rides by
calling the club hotline at 913-9851. You don‟t have to be a club member to participate in a ride, but you
must wear a helmet!

Organized Bike Tours
Looking to get some miles in on your bike while enjoying some different scenery and the company of
hundreds or even thousands of other cyclists? An organized bicycle tour may be just the thing for you.
There are hundreds across the country every year, many within easy driving or even riding distance of Ann

Most tours are organized by local bicycle clubs. They typically have a number of sponsors, and proceeds
frequently go to charity. Routes are generally identified by pavement markers and sometimes by signs, and
a given event generally offers a variety of distances between ten miles and 100 miles. Riders are given a
course map in case they miss a marker. A 100-mile ride is known as a “century”, and is considered a
landmark achievement for a serious cyclist. 100-km rides (62 miles) are known as “metric centuries”. Since
they are tours and not races, most events allow cyclists to start riding any time within a multi-hour time
period. While event organizers will try to select safe roads with light traffic and publicize the event so that
motorists will be on the lookout, few bike tours have completely car-free courses.

Much of the fun and companionship of a bike tour comes at the food stops. A century ride will generally
involve at least four stops, where water, sports drinks, and high-energy foods such as bagels, fruit and
cookies are available. At these stops you can chat with other riders and enjoy the scenery.

One of the biggest local tours is “One Helluva Ride,” which is organized by the Ann Arbor Bicycle
Touring Society. The 2002 OHR will be held on July 13. Check on the web for details.
I did this ride last year, and it was a beautiful tour through western Washtenaw and eastern Jackson
Ann Arbor Bicycle Shops
Two Wheel Tango, 3162 Packard Road, 528-3030, and 323 E. Hoover Ave., 769-8401
Great Lakes Cycling & Fitness, 564 S. Main, 668-6484 (
Student Bike Shop, 607 S. Forest, 662-6986, and 336 Maynard, 327-6949 (
Ann Arbor Cyclery,1224 Packard Road, 761-2749 (
Wheels in Motion, 3400 Washtenaw Ave., 971-2121, (
Green Light Transport, 201 N. Fourth Ave., 668-1644.

Carrying Things on Your Bike
Students and other frequent bike riders tend to use backpacks to carry things. While backpacks can be
convenient, especially if a lot of walking is required at the end of the bike trip, there are more efficient and
comfortable ways to carry stuff on a bike. The basic concept is that the bike will have to support the whole
weight of you and your stuff in any case, but you don‟t have to support the weight of your stuff. The key is
to have sturdy racks and carriers attached directly to the bike.

The basic starter item for commuting or shopping on a bike is a back rack. This attaches to holes in the
frame adjacent to the rear-wheel axle and to the seat post. The rack can be used as is with bungee cords to
hold items in place, or it can be used to support panniers or a top-of-rack pack. Panniers hang down
alongside the wheels and have a capacity similar to that of a backpack. Front racks and panniers, as well as
handlebar bags, are also available.

For road touring, a small saddle bag which hangs below the seat is commonly used to carry keys, wallet,
tools, and a spare tube or two.

Some Great Bicycle Web Sites
Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society:

Flat-resistant Tires
Flat tires can be one of the most annoying aspects of bicycle riding. A pleasant ride on a beautiful day can
quickly become a frustrating and tedious experience when a flat occurs. Several years ago, I walked my
bike most of the way from Saline to Ann Arbor after a tire went flat. Having learned my lesson, I bought a
mini-pump and some spare tubes to carry with me on longer rides. When I did get a flat near Dexter one
day last spring, I replaced the tube and began to pump. Unfortunately, the pumping action caused the valve
stem to break, and I was left with no way to fix the flat. I was fortunate that day that some nice people with
a pickup truck gave me and my bike a ride home.

From these experiences I resolved to reduce the chance of getting another flat to as close to zero as
possible. The helpful clerk at Two-Wheel Tango recommended the “Armadillo” tires by Specialized (other
brands are available). These tires are extremely resistant to punctures by broken glass and other common
road hazards. I rode well over 1000 miles on these tires without a single flat. The puncture-resistant tires
are especially beneficial on road or thin-tire city bikes. The extra rubber on mountain bike tires provides
substantial protection against flats.

While these tires greatly reduce the chances of suffering a flat, there are other precautions that can be taken.
Make sure that there are no sharp edges exposed or foreign objects lodged on the wheel rim when replacing
a tube, and make sure that the tube and tire are seated properly. If you are not sure how to do this or you
have trouble fixing a flat, ask someone at a bike shop to do it for you. And always keep your tires in the
recommended pressure range—over-inflation and under-inflation can both cause flats. Even so, it‟s still a
good idea to carry a spare tube or two and a pump.

Local Mountain Bike Trails
Northeast Area Park: Pontiac Trail and Dhu Varren.
Waterloo Recreation Area: Potawatami Trail.
Island Lake State Park

Bikes on the Ride (AATA)
Bike Racks on AATA Have Arrived!

All Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses now are equipped with a double loading bike rack
on the front of the vehicles. This addition to the AATA system will now allow for true multi-
model commuting around the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area.

The racks are simple -

        Wait at an AATA bus stop with your bike. Remember to take any loose items off your

        When the bus comes to a complete stop simply walk your bike to the front of the
         vehicle, remaining on the curb side of the street.

        Lift the front top latch on the rack- it can be done with one hand.

        Place the front tire of your bike in the position marked "front tire" and slip your rear
         tire into the back slot.

        Lift the spring loaded brace over the rear tire and you are done.

        Board the bus!

Just follow the reverse directions when you arrive at your stop. It is that simple.
(from the AATA website:

Getting a Bike Cheap
    Good fit is important—a painful bike is no bargain.
    Get the brakes and the shifters properly adjusted. Do it yourself or get a bike shop to do a tuneup.
      Get the right type of bike for your needs. If you are riding around town, jumping curbs and
       banging potholes, get a mountain or sturdy city bike. For long-distance touring, look for a good,
       lightweight road bike.
      Where to find: Kiwanis sale, thrift shops, garage and rummage sales, AA News Freebies ads,
       police auctions. And check the bike shops and department stores to get an idea of how much new
       bikes cost. I put over 3000 miles on a $90 Huffy from Target I bought several years ago.

Cycling as Part of a Weight-Loss Program

Bike Lanes versus Bike Paths

Basic Bicycle Law

Bike Security: Locks and Racks

Low-Traffic Bike Rides

Picking the Right Bike for You

Adjusting your Bike for Comfort

Riding at Night

Riding in Bad Weather

Getting Involved

Nutrition and Fluids for Long Rides

Bicycle Commuting Tips

Davis and Madison: Bike-Friendly Cities

Bicycle Clothing

Bike Safety for Kids

History of Cycling in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s Bicycle Cops

Bike Maintenance Tips

Ann Arbor’s Cycling Danger Zones

Car Free Day in Bogota

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