|Dates:||6 Aug 2017 - 16 Aug 2017|
|Duration:||1 week, 2 days|
Bike Tour 2017 Revision
I spent a beautiful, clear, and quiet evening on Pelee Island. The Milky Way was even slightly viewable! Impressive for the muggy Midwest I'd say. The next day, I awoke soon after sunrise to grab a cup of coffee and sit by the calm morning waters of Lake Erie. Canadian Geese chilling by the ferry dock, flying off by the dozens. I met Aurelia, my coffee dealer who gave advised me to check to make sure the ferry would be on schedule.
Of course, it was canceled due to mechanical issues. Staying on Pelee isn't friendly to your wallet so I was not keen on staying another night. $50 for a shotty campsite? Get outta here.
I asked the ferry worker for some advice and he told me to cruise to the marina to see if any boaters were going back to Ohio. So, I cruised. There were only a few boaters and the ones that would have taken me back, didn't seem too excited to help out. That's ok! It was a big ask. A guy who does daily boat chartered to Put-In-Bay was out of town. The marina worker, Gary, helped me out and put me in touch with a local flying charter. Believe it or not, the flight would be cheaper than staying on the island another night. The downfall, they didn't take bikes. Locals told me that there's no way the planes wouldn't fit a bike because people bring LARGE suitcases and coolers on board all the time.
I called the charter service and told them I had 50 lbs of weight pieced out. I didn't tell the whole truth, but it got me a flight back into Ohio.
With all that figured out, I went up to the bakery to grab a delectably fresh breakfast sandwich on a fresh made croissant 🤤. I had time to finish the book I had received from a through hike in Glacier National. Naturally, I wanted the book to be passed on. My intention was to just leave it on the bench at the bakery with a "book it forward" note. As it goes, one of the workers asked me what I was reading and sounded super stoked about the title. It was meant to be! Amanda is now the current owner of the book and I'm excited that she was so elated and wants to push the book forward to others. The little things!
I rode the gravelly road to the small island airport, took the wheels and seat off my bike, and meticulously packed everything so that it didn't look like I had a ton of luggage. Then a family of five rolls up with ALL THE LUGGAGE -and coolers. I was slightly concerned my things wouldn't fit with all their things. But it did! With space! An 8 passenger plane came to whisk us over the Lake Erie islands. Within 12 beautifully landscaped minutes, we arrived in Port Clinton. My Daddio came to pick me up as we would have had to ride back on the highway. I'm all for accommodating to every situation, so we dropped my things off at home and rode 30 miles together on a rail to trail! Everything always works out.
In total, I did almost 500 miles. 470 which were solo.
Now, it's time for rest and recovery to thank my body and mind for all it's done for me 🙏🏻
Pelee Island, ON sunset
Woooooooo! I made it!
I woke up this morning with a tired body and mind. Despite going to bed early, my body needs more.
I was a bit disgruntled after the hellacious, traffic nightmare of yesterday's ride. But, after some serious route planning, I found a low traffic route for today.
I left around 10:30 to an overcast and slightly drizzly sky. It was welcomed weather as I knew later would just be blazing sun and humidity.
I went along Riverview Rd/RT 2/Tecumseh Hwy until Stony Point. Winding around the Thames River to the country side of, of course, corn fields, and massive historic homes. Wind coming out of the north I was anxiously awaiting my turn down the road that would take me mostly south to Kingsville.
I was rerouted, however, because the trans Canada trail is conveniently closed for oil drilling. SUPERB! Thanks Canada 👎
Good thing I had a paper map, as I have no service. I was able to reroute successfully and find myself here at a restaurant shoving my face full of food before camping on Pelee Island tonight! Ferry leaves at 18:00. I made it here in about 5 hours.
Tomorrow is off to Sandusky to ride the 30ish miles to Vermillion! Wooo!
Total Mileage: ~52 miles
This morning got off to a lovely start as I slept heavily throughout the night. Thanks Spokane treat! I awoke to make some coffee, so my writings, watch a woodpecker work for his breakfast, and a 5 year old who asked me to play with him all day. When I departed, he asked "are you leaving to go around the world?!" Someday, my sweet friend.
Today's ride started off on a nice, not too populated road down to the Algonac-Walpole Island ferry terminal. A small 5 car ferry came to sweep us away for a 15 minute ride across the gorgeously Glacier blue St. Claire River. How much did it cost? $2! Well spent.
Walpole island was mostly natives and destitute roads. I took the Blue River Trail (appropriately named) to Wallaceburg where I then, begrudgingly, took Hwy 40 South to Chatham.
Because I don't have service here in Canada, I chose the route that was on the maps. In hindsight, I would have found a road that paralleled Hwy 40 for a long distance. I had a total of 1.5 hrs of stop time just to let traffic pass me by. There was a minuscule 2 ft paved shoulder and the rest was heavily layered with gravel. I couldn't ride on the gravel, of course, because my bike fish tails and is unstable.
The highway then led into the dense city of Chatham where I rode the sidewalk all the way to my hosts house.
The thing that got me through? A jacuzzi tub awaiting to soak my sweet smelling, dirty, sore body.
Uneventful and rather stressful ride today. Thankfully it wasn't too long mileage wise. I hashed out a better route for tomorrow which will be my last day solo! Where has time gone?! Now, it's 20:30 and time for bed 🙏🏻
Total Mileage: 30 miles Lodging: $40 Ferry: $2
Algonac State Park!
I have officially completed bicycling the length of Michigan! What?! That just set in after my camp meal last night.
Yesterday, it was a bit tough to leave Lorrie and Mikes because they were just so damn welcoming. I could have easily taken a rest day there, but I had to take advantage of the beautiful weather. After getting caught in rain that delayed my ride several hours, I had to bust out a long ride. As I headed out, Lorrie yelled out to me "I feel like I'm losing my best friend!" Man! I will definitely see them again and keep in touch. Lorrie's a farmer and I could definitely learn some new, valuable skills from her.
As I rode away, o had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and pure joy specifically from the kindness and generosity of others. So much so that it brought tears to my eyes. THIS is why I do what I do. Someday soon I'll be able to give back to the bicycling community and support others the way I've been supported.
The ride started off smoothly. Only 2 miles of sandy road! That's a record for Michigan. I followed Old Hwy 21 for about 16 miles until I got to my first Rail Trail! The Avoca-Wadhams. There was a bike tune up station at the trail head which makes me entirely too giddy. As I rode on, I came to a cross walk that had stop lights for car traffic and a pedestrian walk sign. It was my turn to go. Thankfully, I have the wits about me to look both ways before crossing and good thing I did because a car FLEW past the red light. I knew they were going to. They were probably on their cell phone. Typical.
I then followed Range Road that is part of Michigans Bicycle Route "M-20." What a joke that was. Speed limit was 55 and at some points there was NO SHOULDER. I pulled over many of time to allow long lines of cars whizz past me. It's mind ogling that a state would consider a highway with sometimes a 2ft shoulder as a designated bicycle route. AGH!
Alas, there was a silver lining. Starting in St. Claire there began a bicycle path called "Bridge to Bay" Trail. None of my maps picked that one up. I rode that trail for a good 20 miles. What a great way to alleviate my frustration of M20. The paved path even ran parallel to gravel roads-finally, some justice!
Along the way, I stopped at a farmers stand to get a peach, some fingerling potatoes, and a green pepper. Things to add to my black bean, avocado burrito i made for dinner 🤤.
Not soon enough, I laid my eyes upon the beautiful blue St. Claire river. Most of the side is private property-which was a bummer because I wanted to stop and snack there. So it goes. I was so elated to finally see water after being in the country all week. Having lived near water where it's within site for the past 5 years changes how you want to live. Being landlocked again without nearby water is no longer allowed.
I arrived at Algonac State Park with a ferocious appetite. The heat of the day wipes away the sensation of hunger. My energy levels sink the last ten miles and that's when I tell myself to "push through" to the big meal because a snack won't suffice. Well, neither will not eating anything.
I set up camp, take an Epic Wipe bath, and chow down. As I went to go wash my stove, I ran into a conversation with Rick, who is with his wife Nyna and grandsons for a few days. "Is everything you got there miniature?!" He yelled. I liked him right away.
His grandkids Danny & Ryan, who are 9 and 5 respectively, took a special interest in me immediately. Ryan was literally running circles around me with his action figure and sweet Danny wanted to make me a bracelet. They soon invited me to have some water and s'mores and sit by their fire for the evening. Rick was in the military and was stationed in the same place as Lorrie for a few years. Staunchly conservative, an open conversation blossomed.
A moment of serendipity came about when Danny asked if I had a name for my bike. Typically, I don't name inanimate objects. However, last week after all the turmoil and the people we met at Two Medicine Lake Campground in Montana, I came up with a name. "Glider" is what I told Danny and sure enough as soon as I said it, people were hang gliding with a motor in the sky. It was serendipitous enough for even a 9 year old to say "I think that's a sign!"
I stayed up last night outside my tent to watch the stars for a bit and enjoy some quiet time with a special treat I brought with me from Spokane. I slept heavily last night, hopefully enough that my body is recharged for a shorter ride today.
Capac-->Algonac State Park Total Mileage: 54 miles Campsite Cost: $20
I started my morning at 2:30am...to get a little brown bat out of the barn I was sleeping in 😂. Then I went back to sleep after the initial terror of RABIES! had settled. Ha! I'm a wuss sometimes, what can I say?
This morning, I awoke later than anticipated only to find a farm fresh omelette awaiting my mouth. Drool Afterwards, I had a powerful yoga session in the barn. I'm feeling stronger each day. My body and mind a week ago felt like mush after so much turmoil. Man, what fresh air, movement, and lovely surroundings can do to you.
I love the Midwest country sounds and smells. Constantly surrounded by crickets and whatever other bugs are jamming outside. It rings childhood nostalgia as do the heavy, dark silky rain clouds.
Today's ride I planned to be short so I would have a WarmShowers host for the evening and not cycle 80 miles to a campground. My route planning has been unexpectedly perfect as the weather wasn't suited for a long ride today. I got caught up in a few rain showers. One on the side of the road and one under a country grocers deck in Kings Mill.
The Rail to Trail (Polly Anne) I was supposed to take was all over grown and hadn't had any maintenance in over ten years, as the locals said. Some good ol' boys came to see what I was up to. Two of them on 350cc and 700cc 4 wheelers and one that lived across the street. There we stood under the country mart talking about bow season and what route I should take to Capac while the rain pattered away. The guy, Jim, who lived across the street offered his porch and some water for me to wait and watch the storm pass by. Man, do I get caught in great places. So, there I sat with Jim, his beagle Lucy, and his wife (who's name I've forgotten, whoops) for several hours. Just shootin' the shit. The Midwest, man. Everyday I'm out here is another day I'm tempted to move back.
Onwards on the route Jim constructed for me using his noggin' and back roads knowledge having lived there 20 years. The route couldn't have been more perfect. Low traffic, gravelly/sandy roads of course, and a bit rolly which was a nice change of pace. Tailwinds pushed me most of the way.
I cleaned my bike and chain this morning only to get it caked in sand once again! So it goes.
Tonight, I'm staying with my WarmShowers hosts Lorrie and Mike. They live on a 7 acre farm here in Capac. As I slowly strolled my bike up the long gravel drive, their 150 lb bull mastif, Pete, came running down barking. This is the part when reading reviews are worthwhile-I already knew Pete was a gentle giant. After my hands were wet with slobber, Mike greeted. As soon as I met Lorrie, she hugged me, asked if i was cold from the rain, offered laundry and dinner promptly, & showed me to my room and shower. I didn't change out of my bike clothes until I had fresh grilled corn on the cob that I rolled in butter and shook some salt on. JUICY GOODNESS! I showered, did laundry, ate dinner out on the deck, and she walked me to a VERY special green house. Very green indeed...
Lorrie is raising baby chicks in hopes of getting a rooster. She nabs one of the babes, puts it in my hand, and says in her raspy farmers daughters voice "you ain't afraid of them are you?!" After chick swaddling, I had a tour de Lorries antique museum-which is just her whole house. Vintage kitchen ware and whisks hanging on clementine orange painted walls. Antique and homemade furniture in every room. Witnessing how others live is like the free ticket to guaranteed entertainment. Maybe that's just me...
The best part about my hosts? They're not cyclists. They're just genuinely lovely people who want to open their home to weary travelers as there are not a lot of options around these parts.
Everyday I am more grateful, positive about my days, and witness how much you can pack in a day. Happy, happy, happy.
As a side note-we often make analogies between life and weather. But, how many of us have actually had to be stuck in a storm on the side of the road-or wherever-and witness the patience and grace you must sustain to watch the storm pass by?
Tomorrow, off to Algonac State Park! My last day in Michigan!
Total Mileage: 34 miles Lodging: $0
Columbiaville! Here I am! Staying on a beautiful organic farm tonight in a huge space on top of the barn. I'll probably wake up to roosters. AKA I'm in heaven. Today, my ride was joyously flat and mostly Rail to Trail! I had a wonderful breakfast with my kindest hosts-Ruth and Dale. Dale-most likely in his 70's-rode with me the first 15 miles of the ride. His goal is to have a 50 mile ride this year. He's toured across Europe starting in Michigan, then all the way to Belgium, and on to Istanbul. We routed together and joyously carved out paths on good ol paper maps together. I am deeply grateful for their generosity and making sure I was taken care of.
Dale led me through the locals route of Saginaw to the Harger Line Rail to Trail which I was on for a solid 10 miles. Then it was south east bound on M15 for about 14 miles to Millington. I stopped in Vassar as I smelled the rain coming. Probably one of the only times I was grateful for a McDonalds as it sheltered me just in time. I was certain not to get caught in a thunderstorm in the country.
Onward down from Millington I was linked up to the Southern Links Trailway which I took for another 12 miles to Columbiaville where I am calling home for the night.
I met an older guy named Mike who was a staunch New Yorker. We rode a generous portion of the Southern Links together. He's been riding with ACA on the Northern Tier with a group of about 15 other older dudes. We chatted about solo tour stories and shit that can go down while on solo tour. Even as staunch as he was, we empathized about the atrocities that happen to solo cyclists especially. I realized how valuable it is that we recognize the vulnerability in each other-especially as cyclists-and we create a community around that. We're not here to piss people in cars off. We're here to move through our traumas, our life, and move as meditation to get us out of the rut.
Most my ride was with others today and I found immense joy from sharing the ride. I've been a bit bummed because my favorite tour partner isn't with me but I know I must keep moving. The first 2 days were challenging but now I'm on the up and up.
I've broken up the last bits of my ride to digestible pieces so that I can linger on bike tour a bit longer.
Total Mileage: ~43 miles Lodging: $30
Made it to SagiYEnaw! All country roads today with a lot of gravelly sand roads to test my patience. Luckily, my tires are sturdy as hell and I avoided LOADS of cars. I maybe only saw 20 cars between Alma and Saginaw minus the part where I got into the city. I rode on the sidewalks then to avoid the rush hour calamity.
I lost my tail light today. Again-my fault. I took a pee on the side of the road and forgot to take it off my pants. So now my light is RIP'ing in the ditch in the middle of the country. Michigan:2 Kelsey:0
I realize that these things are all replaceable and so it goes. I had the initial frustration when my phone camera broke and of course when I lost my tail light. Buy, hey, I'm still pedaling and my knee is doing great.
The last leg of my ride was on the Saginaw Valley Rail to Trail! I'm loving these Rail to trails and am also grateful when they're at the end of my ride. It gives me that extra push to get to where I need to go.
I broke up my ride into 2 smaller chunks for the next few days so that I have a secure spot to stay. Camping has been hard to find!
Currently, I am at Dales, a host I found on WarmShowers. I'm looking forward to some food, shower, reading, conversation, and resting.
Later note: Dales wife cooked up a storm! Homemade spaghetti sauce, potato salad, spinach salad, HUGE slices of beloved watermelon, and the finale...ICE CREAM CAKE! Best part of bicycle touring? All the things I get to eat that I normally wouldn't because of the lack of appetite. I inhaled...everything. No shame in that game. I stayed up and did loads of route planning potential with my paper maps, listened to some jams, and got my stretching on. It's amazing what a full meal can do to your mindset. I hadn't realized how hungry I actually was until food was in front of my face. Food changed everything and I could not be more grateful for Ruth and Dale saying "well, if you get hungry in the middle of the night, don't be shy." Too bad I was sleeping too well for the first time in awhile to have any midnight cravings 😋Sleep has been sparse up until this night. Most likely the effect of having a substantial meal and feeling safe in my surroundings.
Tomorrow, it's off to Columbiaville where I will be staying in a barn!
Today's Mileage: 48 miles Lodging: $0
I would choose a better photo but I failed to zip up my front bag all the way and lost my phone in the street. Something's looking out for me because my phone survived but my camera won't work! Darn it! It's ok. After the initial self frustration I had to remind myself that I'm very fortunate.
Anywho, the ride today was completely pleasant. Mostly through country roads leading into Edmar where I found the Fred Meijer Rail to Trail that took me the last 20 miles of the ride! All through wetlands, deciduous forest, and corn fields. I'm pretty certain that's what all of Michigan is made of-oh-and sand. I have to get off my bike quite frequently to traverse through some sandy roads.
Google maps is funky and thinks it'd be great to take me down said sandy roads for 2 plus miles. Today, I refused Google Maps help and went along M46 East. While not the route of choice-this time it actually had a shoulder so I was thankful I didn't have to walk 8 miles along the highway with my fully loaded bike.
The picture is of a group of guys from Cleveland that I ran in to! They're doing the same ride everyday for a week to raise money for orphans...I didn't see any orphans ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Super sweet group of church dudes. It was refreshing and brought me much joy to run into fellow cyclists as the only other cyclists I've seen were Amish.
Day Two was far superior to day one. No ding dongs cussing me out and mostly no traffic. Sweet smells of country air, scorching roadkill, surrounded by the sounds of field birds such as hawks, warblers, and even belted kingfishers.
Total Mileage: ~58 miles Lodging: $50
Made it to Oxbow Lake Campground! Wish there were more shoulders on the route over here. Fortunately, I was in Amish country most the day so people gave me generous space. There was only one asshole who cussed me out and hoped I got killed-but hey-if yelling at bicyclists while driving a 2 ton missile floats his boat ¯_(ツ)_/¯ The campground is lovely and there's a nice breeze coming off the lake that flows into the Dam and into the Muskegon River.
I was turned around several times today and taken on sand filled roads in which I had to walk my bike. Super no bueno. This first day was hugely difficult due to my own uneasiness of riding solo. I pulled over every time I saw cars coming in my mirror because there was no shoulder. The first part of my ride was on a Rail Trail but there were 2 dogs loose on it chasing bicyclists. I looked at my map and opted to take the road parallel to the trail. Much to my dismay-it had no shoulder. I was then led to a road that was gravel on top of pavement for about 8 miles in which cars were, well, not so kind. The rest of the ride was stressful because I was stressed about cars and scared of something happening.
After being cursed out, I slammed the last two miles in fear that the same asshole would come run me down. Fortunately, I got to the campground safely. Unfortunately, there was an extremely drunk couple two sites down from me who couldn't stop berating each other and snoring. Oy! Not a great introduction to solo tour but I have confidence it'll get better from here.
Total Mileage: ~60 miles Lodging: $15
Stayed at Barry and Jennifer's on White Lake. Their beautiful home is right on the lake. We met at the Lake Express and like a dodo bird, I forgot about the time change (ahead one hour) and our boat was an hour late. I would've been arriving at a campground in the dark, which is super no bueno in my world. We went for a walk to Lake Michigan (10 minutes from their house), watched the sunset, then witnessed the full blazing orange moon rise. The generosity and kindness of my hosts have been so soothing and nourishing for my tattered soul. Bicycle traveling may be my happy place, but the people I've met along the way are the remedy to my Seattle "avoid humanity" toxic ways.
I'm editing these way points as I go because I realize what a crude and icy state of mind I started off with. The previous post has a more detailed version of this night. 😄
Lake Express to Muskegon, Michigan! 6 mile ride to terminal through Milwaukee on mostly bike path. Probably the best thing about Milwaukee is the accessible bike/ped trails!
I met a lovely couple, Barry and Jennifer. (they're bikes are next to mine). They're part time Michigonians, part time Floridians. They had just completed a bike for MS in Milwaukee. Naturally, we start our bike parts and gear chat and they lead me into the belly of the ferry. Jennifer is ironically enough fairy like in her ways. Fluttering about in and out of conversations, going to check things out, coming back with a story, and ultimately upbeat with a strong pulse you feel across the room. Barry is the sweetest, kind hearted dude east of the Mississippi. His energy went through the roof when talking about his bicycle experiences but also about any of his stories in general.
On the ferry, I realized we had jumped ahead an hour. The ferry was also late by an hour so my initial 60 mile ride was not looking favorable at 5 pm. Fortunately, Barry and Jennifer wanted to invite me to their gorgeous lake home to spend the evening with them. With a simple "hell yes!" they swooped me up and toured me around White Lake, MI.
I felt that I had known them for years. That's the thing with traveling-all walls go down and you dig in deep real quick.
We walked down to Lake Michigan to witness sunset in the knock of time. As quickly as the sun sunk below the horizon, we turned around to witness the Full Sturgeon Moon blast up into the sky. It was in that moment that I realized how little time we actually have. The sun and the Moon acting as an even scale for only a moment-then one takes over rapidly before our eyes. In this moment, I was humbled by the swiftness of space and time and reassured to make the most out of every day. Last week, I learned very quickly how health or life can be taken in a literal blink of an eye. So, here I am pedaling the days away.
It was tough to leave them the next day, but so it goes. I'll always have a place for them and they with me.
Barry tuned up my bike, Jennifer and I hashed out a route plan for the day. Off I went to the chamber of commerce for some free maps and then to the bike trail.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce I'm continuing bike tour solo. It'll be an adventure-one that we didn't plan for-but our pact to continue on if anything happens to one another must be kept. My tour partner, ultimately, will be healed. Our spirit to tour will never be suffocated. Since I'm going solo-I've cut the route and am going from Milwaukee over to Michigan to bicycle over to Ontario and then down to Sandusky. My Daddio, will be meeting me for the last 30 miles of the trip where we'll end in Vermillion, OH. Through the muck, we must Glide on. ✌️
|Dates:||6 Aug 2017 - 16 Aug 2017|
|Duration:||1 week, 2 days|
Bike Tour 2017 Revision