Since my last journal entry we have logged our most recent exercise miles and have plotted these along the Trans America Trail (virtual trip) and have found that we have traversed the length and breadth of Virginia. We have pedaled our way across the lower half of Kentucky and Illinois and currently find ourselves in Missouri. Ron is a little more than 100 miles ahead of me. Cheryl is still in Virginia; remember, she is jogging so rightly so. I told her after I complete the trans-America trek, I will ride back to meet up with her.

This summer has proven to be a boon for biking. My husband, Ron, and I have done quite a bit of bike riding. (I personally prefer exercising outdoors in the summer vs. going to the gym). We spent our vacation during the latter part of June touring in Holland along the Holland-Grand Haven trail. The Holland-Grand Haven trail is a paved trail located along Lake Shore Avenue. The trail head originates at Holland State Park. From there we were able to pick up the bike route along Lake Shore Avenue. Traveling north it is approximately 23 miles to Grand Haven’s city limits. We managed a 20-mile ride loop; the trail was quite hilly and it was a very warm day but the scenery was well worth the trip.

During our vacation we also explored the Grand Rapids trail system. We completed a 20-mile ride along the Kent and John Ball Park trail ways. We biked through Millennium and Johnson Parks and for a stretch along the Grand River. One thing to be noted is that the Grand Rapids trails aren’t well marked and it is a bit difficult to figure out which way to go as trails branch off in many directions.

The last portion of our vacation we met up with friends in Marshall, Michigan. They took us for a 21-mile trek along theThe Falling Waters Trail. The trail links the town of Concord with the city of Jackson. The trail follows the old rail bed of the former Michigan Central Railroad. The trail is mostly rural, with only a few road crossings. It also crosses the Lime Lake causeway where you can drop a line for fish. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and admire the scenery, have a picnic and take a swim.

On our way back to Bay City, we decided to stop off in St. Charles. We had lunch at Subway and then rode the Saginaw Valley Rail trail. It was a 90-degree day but we managed to complete the full trail. HYPERLINK “” The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail trailhead is located in St. Charles at Lumberjack Park and angles north-northeast to Stroebel Road. The trail is over 9 miles long one-way and is used for biking, jogging, walking, and roller-blading. An old railroad bridge at the trailhead takes visitors across the Bad River and offers a scenic view.

In Bay City and Midland, on evenings and weekends, we have ridden the Pere-Marquette trail on numerous occasions. We have completed the full 19.2 mile loop in Bay City several times. We have ridden the partial loop to Bay City State Park and back many times as well. In Midland, we have ridden the Midland to Coleman loop and the Coleman to Sanford loop.

Michigan boasts the largest rail-trail system in the U.S. (Rails-Trails are old railroad lines converted to recreational use.) Hundreds of miles of these and other trails are located in West Michigan.

Some people are naturally attracted to the lime light. You know who they are; they enjoy the grand entrance and thrive when they are “under the social microscope”.

I, on the other hand, prefer “blending in”. When I am riding my trike, though, my trike sells me out every single time. I suppose it is hard to keep a low profile (no pun intended) when I’m riding something so unique.

The trike is a “head turner.” Its’ cool factor has literally stopped people in their tracks. Many do the double-take; first, I get the courteous glance and nod followed by some vocal variation of “Woa, did you see that” as I pass. I would like to think the comments were about me; but I know better. The cat calls, whistles and other superlatives ended at least thirty-five years ago! It’s the trike they are looking at and talking about.

Here’s just a handful of remarks that I have heard about the trike as I have zipped past walkers and other bicyclists:

  • Wow, that is s-o-o-o cool!
  • Awesome!
  • Mom, I want one of those!
  • Where’d ya’ get that?
  • How much?
  • That looks like WAY too much fun!
  • Is that harder to ride than a regular bike?
  • How do you steer that thing?
  • I could use one of THOSE!
  • I bet that would be good for my back…
  • Guess, if you crash, it’s not so far to fall, eh?
  • That is one bad a** bike!
  • “That’s quite the contraption you have there, young* lady.” (*I liked this comment. Of course, the guy was as old as dirt).
  • And, my personal favorite…one young man, who looked to be around twelve years-old, yelled at me while I passed “Geez, all you need to do is mount a TV.” Maybe he thought I was riding my recliner down the road and I could watch TV versus the road and the oncoming traffic, eh?

Many others have stopped us to ask about the trike. We have met bikers and walkers from all across the state; complete strangers who, had it not been for the trike, wouldn’t have stopped to talk with us. We even met a retired engineer from Italy who spoke with us for over a half hour about the Tour de France and how the bikes are built for speed and maneuverability. He inspected my trike thoroughly and liked what he saw.

For being more of a listener than a conversation starter, I must admit, I am enjoying talking about my trike because it is more than just a “way cool contraption”. For me, it has been nothing short of a God-send. Prior to the trike, walking for approximately a mile and riding an upright bike for only a few miles was as much as I could do before I would trigger debilitating back and hip pain that would last for hours after exercise. Because of this, it had been impossible to get a good aerobic workout in comfort. My trike has provided me with a sense of independence and freedom which I thought was gone forever. Instead of dreading exercise, I now look forward to it. My soul is happy again because I can get outdoors and take in the wind, the weather, the scenery and the open road and, I am having fun, too!

When was the last time you had fun? After having a heart attack and open heart surgery, I now look at life differently. It is so easy to take each day for granted and get caught up in meeting life’s daily obligations. I am here to tell you that life is way too short to not spend it having fun. I have made it a goal to try to spend a part of every single day participating in something just for fun. No work, no commitments, no obligations…just pure fun.