FYI. I’ve begun to shift my efforts from this website to the more comprehensive site. covers all kinds of bike riding options and routes. I still enjoy riding dirt roads, more than ever actually, but I also like to promote and engage in all kinds of biking opportunities. Pedalgood was developed with that in mind and it gives me space to explore cycling in all of its glorious shapes and forms.

Happy pedaling,

Talk is Cheap

This talk isn’t only cheap, it’s free. Come hear me describe great places to go on a bike and we’ll get your input as well. I’ll be at Aberdeen Bike & Outdoors, 1101 S Main St, Chelsea, on Thursday evening, December 19th at 6pm. Topics will include DRW, the impending April 2014 release of the Falcon Guide on 40 great rides in Southeast Michigan, and other projects in the mill. Oh, the places we’ll go. Hope to see you there. –Rob

Group Winter Rides – Ann Arbor


I’ve been asked by numerous people when the winter Dirt Road Rides will get underway. My answer, it’s time. I’ve thought a lot about ways to organize these rides and I plan to see how we can make them work to make a lot of people feel they have companions on the whole ride. Let me explain.

What is a Group Ride?
I know that this sounds like Biking 101, but it helps to refresh ourselves on the real purpose of the term Group Ride. A group ride is just that, a ride for people to be together and share the ride experience. What makes this a challenge is the range of fitness and ability levels among those who join in. Riding in cooperative groups can be (and often has been) done, with a bit of give and take. Below are various approaches with a bit of editorial comment on my part.

The No Drop Ride
The goal is to try to regulate the pace so the most casual riders don’t get dropped. This occasionally works. Usually the faster riders get frustrated and eventually the ride breaks apart. Or, this requires a very staunch leader who keeps everyone in line. Unless everyone is pretty close in ability and pace, good luck, but as I said, they sometimes do work.

Laissez Faire
In this scenario, the group all rolls out as one without discussing much of anything about the ride. Then the ride gradually breaks into its own series of groups. It’s very Darwinian and often leaves bits and pieces of the original group spewed all over the county in fives, twos, and ones. Frustration happens for those who thought they were going to have someone to ride with and find they’re all on their lonesome.

This is the extreme version of survival of the fittest. It works if everyone is on board and recognizes that they’ll either be the tough chest pounders at the end, or the wasted detritus who watch those in front of them get smaller and smaller until…poof!…silence. These can be great fun, or they can be totally demoralizing, depending on your position in the hierarchy.

Drop and Regroup
This is a hybrid of the No Drop and Laissez Faire. The hard core riders ride like hell until an agreed upon, or nebulously agreed upon spot, then they stop and wait for the talkers or those less sportif to catch up. Again, this often requires a staunch leader or a few leaders who agree to this from the start and then stick to it.

A, B, C or MPH
A (fastest), B (fit, but not A fit), and C (chug, chug, chug). The groups are sorted out in the parking lot as everyone queues up. This works great as long as everyone understands where they are in the pecking order and if they are capable of being honest with themselves. Personal awareness is a tough one in this case, but if honesty rules, then these can work. That said, how often do we really know ourselves, or admit our limitations? I’ll let you answer that for yourself.

Sometimes these are sorted by speed: 24mph average; 18mph average; 14mph average…
It works if everyone is self-aware enough to understand their averages. Most people skew these anywhere from 2 to 6mph upwards of their real abilities.

Descriptive Groups
Perhaps it’s the labels that make ABC a challenge. Anything below A is…below A (worthless scum, in other words). Maybe we need other terms. Hammerheads, Friendly Fitness, Easygoing. I don’t know. There are probably pleasantly descriptive, concise terms that clarify your intent from the start. They proudly declare your preferences rather than rank your abilities (or lack thereof).

Weekly Challenge
Though I tend to like the “Descriptive Groups” approach, all rides and groups are unique. They often require a combination of the above approaches.

Also, the groups often form according to the number who show up. In the winter that number can be (though is not always) small. If there are only five riders, then the group is often those five, even if the range of rider type is widely varied.

Dirt Ride Goals
I’m in the Friendly Fit category (spirited, but not a sufferfest), so these rides are skewed in that direction because I want people to ride with, but that doesn’t mean that the Hammerheads and the Easygoings aren’t welcome. Each group should be able to find their companions and decide on distance and pace.

The primary goal is to get together so we have someone to share our ride with at a pace and distance that will keep us motivated to return the next week.

Let me stress that it’s winter. For those who ride like banshees all the rest of the year, this is a time to chill out a bit. Again, hammerheads are more than welcome to hammer, but please do it in your own group or just do it on your own. There’s nothing to prove here and unless everyone you’re with buys into sufferfests, don’t do it. Enjoy the camaraderie of those you’re with.

Conversely, if you’re out of shape, give yourself a short ride, make sure you know your limitations and your way home and be happy for getting outdoors for a little while with those who love to be healthy and fit. It’s a good group to aspire to join.

Other Thoughts
One thing I’d like to pull off is to get women more incorporated into these groups. Women are more than welcome. Please, pass the word that we are an inclusive group.

Give a welcome to those who are new to the group or to those who you don’t know. Help those who haven’t done much, if any, winter riding. We’re doing this because we have a shared passion.

Talk to Each Other
Part of everything said above has to do with communication, both at the beginning of and throughout the ride. If you have suggestions or complaints or you don’t understand something, please pass your thoughts on to me. I welcome them. Truly. If we communicate, I promise we’ll have a great season of good rides.

These rides are not formed under the aegis of any particular group or organization. They’re a group of people who love to ride year-round. They usually start from Barton Dam. You are responsible for your own safety.

If you’d like to be on the email list for the winter rides send your request to:
clayhouse at clayhousepub dot com.

Once you’re on the list, ride notifications will be forthcoming.



Looking to ride the dirt roads on Sunday? How about some companionship, then waffles and beer after? It’s supposed to be a beautiful day. Come out to the Bierwaffelfest beginning and ending at the Caldwell ranch on 4547 Valentine Road. 9am sharp, Sunday, October 21st. 39 and 26 mile rides. Bring a friend. We’ll be waiting for you (but get there on time or we’ll be gone).

CXpreX…it’s back!

Time to get CXcited! ……………CXpreX is on.

This is THE place to learn how to enjoy yourself on a bike while getting off the bike (then back on) and expanding your lung capacity.

Those new to the sport of cyclocross are very welcome. Those who’ve honed the craft are very welcome. See the attached flyer and get ready for some high flying pre-fun. Soon to be a major motion…


Jay Ellis’s Hand Made Bike


A lot of us think we’re real aficionados if we select all the components to build up our favorite frame. And we are. We’re special. But, how much more remarkable would it be to build our own frame into a dream bike?

Meet Jay Ellis. He did it and it’s an impressive first time frame. I won’t even call it an attempt, because it’s a real bike, Jiminy, nice to look at and nice to ride. I took it for a spin and even let go of the handlebars on a downhill and found that it tracked like it was on a Curlew’s bill (go ahead, Google it).

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DRW News

This weekend is getting too darned exciting. Rob ( I like speaking in the third person. It’s like there’s another, much more exciting, somebody impersonating me out there.) will be at two events, one on Friday evening and the other on Sunday afternoon.

Bike Bash in Kerrytown
get downtownFriday, May 18th, from 5:30 to 8:00pm, I’ll be at the Ann Arbor Get Downtown’s Bike Bash, part of the Bike to Work Week celebrations. I’ll have books strewn about for sale. Please stop by and tell me about the back roads you love to ride.

Rolling Hills County Park
Dirt Road Ride

Sunday, May 20th, from 1:30 to 4:00pm, I’ll lead a dirt road ride through Augusta Township. We’ll do a shortened version of the Augusta Route from the book. 16.5 miles of riding bliss at an easygoing pleasant pace. This area is relatively flat, filled with farms and wooded areas.

This is part of a dedication ceremony for a new mountain bike trail in Rolling Hills Park. The ceremony takes place at 1:30 and we’ll roll out promptly at 2:00pm. The ride should take about 1-1/2 hours. Come on out and get your pedaling in for the day.


Marc Ngo’s Waterford

Waterford SideIt might still be called a Paramount if the world spun a little differently back in the early 90’s. Richard Schwinn and a couple of partners, including Marc Muller, director of the Waterford based Paramount factory from its inception, purchased the factory as the original Schwinn Trust sold off the remainder of its fading assets. Richard was the last Schwinn standing in the bike business.

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DRW Ride & Book Signing

joy road

Joy Road

DRW Ride & Book Signing
Mighty Good Coffee
217 N. Main Street
Sunday, April 29
9am – 11am


Two Distances / Two Paces
12 miles @ 10mph average
18 miles @ 15 mph average

The Ride
Rob will lead a ride from Mighty Good Coffee in downtown Ann Arbor to give you a small sampler of riding the nearby dirt roads. We’ll leave along one of the scenic routes that lead out of town onto the dirt roads that then go for miles in all directions.

Since we do leave from the heart of Ann Arbor, there will be a combination of conditions including paved roads, a bike path, and, of course, dirt roads. And hills. This area has plenty of those and since we’re situated in a river valley they’re between us and the countryside.

Riders of all levels are welcome, though keep in mind that there should be a basic level of good fitness, since each route variation does require some exertion in order to scale the numerous hills. Figure you’ll be out for about 1-1/2 hours. Please bring water bottles and a snack.

SIC TransitThe ride returns to Mighty Good Coffee for free cups of coffee sponsored by Sic Transit Cycles, plus Rob will sign copies of his book for those lucky purchasers. Ride maps will be provided.