|ROUTE: Ludington MI to Mt Pleasant MI||DISTANCE: 113 Miles||WINDS: Light most of the day with a nice tailwind in the middle|
|WEATHER: Cloudy at the beginning and partly sunny in the afternoon. High 85.||TERRAIN: Flat to rolling||TOTAL CLIMBING: 2850 Feet|
Boy, that was a short day off...we're back in the routine this morning, albeit a little groggy after entering the eastern time zone...my worst zone for some reason. It was an early rise this morning as we tackled our last triple digit day. It was really hard to get out of bed, but duty called...we aren't getting any closer to Portsmouth sitting here.
Last night after we all got in from the boat, I went out and did some investigating to see if we could find a better route out of the motel. Our planned route included a back track to where we used to have breakfast. Since we weren't going that way any longer, I didn't feel we needed to get out on the busy highway to start our day if I could find an alternate that would get us on track. As long as we've been doing this, we've developed a good sense of how to find places to ride when we have to...we were also challenged during the riding day today too...I'll cover that later. Anyway, Michigan has only two kinds of roads, excellent and terrible. When we laid out this route, one of the highways we wanted to ride was just awful with broken shoulder and potholes where we'd have to ride so we went a little out of our way and over a couple of steep hills to get around it. When I drove out last night, I found that Michigan had resurfaced that highway so now it was very rideable...so why not cut off 2 miles and 2 big climbs? When I announced that to the group they sat there in hushed disbelief...they're not used to changes that shorten the route and take out climbs. I think they fully expect that I live just to make changes that make them climb a challenging hill or ride into a headwind.
It was a peaceful morning with cows enjoying their morning graze and meadowlarks singing in the fields as we passed by. Every once in a while, the sweet aroma of honey suckle would permeate the cool morning air. It was a nice change from the familiar odor of dairy farms that would make the riders hold their breath until they either turned green or was able to get up wind. I lived on a dairy farm when I was a kid and I went to school right after cleaning the manure out of the barns. Never could figure why no one wanted to sit too close to me in class...hmmm. The farms on today's route were much smaller than the ones we saw in Wisconsin and although you see small plots of corn and soybeans, many can't compete in the big markets so they grow things like squash, pumpkins, asparagus, beans, sugar beets, and cucumbers. Also, if we weren't riding along small farms, many of the roads were tree lined like the roads in the south where you can't see anything but the road your on and the trees. It did provide shade for our morning departure to the delight of most everyone.
There's always a down side to riding in such rural areas...there weren't many facilities for our SAG stops. It was almost as bad as when we were in the desert except we didn't have to deal with the sand. Our first SAG was at a cross roads with a small abandoned cabin being the only building in sight. Somehow we had to designate the "lady's room" from the "men's room," but before we could put up signs, the riders had already sorted it all out. There should be some sweet asparagus from that field...well, where did you think the Green Giant went number 1?
The day went pretty much like planned, but it didn't take long for me to get a little busy in the van fixing flats and responding to a couple other mechanical problems. Seems the flat tire and minor breakdown fairy was at work on the boat as we crossed Lake Michigan yesterday. Jan had a flat early, Allison's front derailleur went on the blink, and the triple had 3 flats before the first SAG. At least I had something to keep me busy this morning, but in the afternoon things was back to calm...well, almost.
Just as I was leaving the second SAG, I got a call from Jim, our mechanic, who was riding that there was some construction at mile 90 that I needed to look at. When I got the call, I was scouting a different route out of Big Rapids to get us off a road that I thought was becoming a little too busy for us to be on. Again, they had fixed the road we had been avoiding because of broken surface, but now it was repaired and smooth as silk. I called back to Barb in the luggage truck to drive and route the better option for next year so I could go forward to check out the construction. As I went forward, I came upon a couple workers who told me the riders had been going through and the rest could pass too...oh yeah, I could drive through too. I sat there talking to them for a few minutes before I started forward and when I got to the real workers and found they had a 4 foot deep ditch dug all the way across the road and the pavement was torn up for about a mile. I could see where everyone was getting through to avoid adding 5 miles for the paved detour so I drove through some grass to get around the ditch and up to the riders. When I got to driving through the dirt, I figured it was about as bad as anything we'd seen before and I was surprised that everyone was riding or walking through it instead of riding the 5 mile detour. I guess everyone is getting to be hardened cross country riders to not let a mile of loose dirt and a 4 foot ditch stand in their way. A couple weeks ago if I'd made them ride through something like this, they would have lynched me, but now I can't stop them from trudging through
I spent the late afternoon leapfrogging the riders until they got into town. Jeff in the white van was sharing "rider watch" duties after he broke down the last SAG. We got everyone in before 6:00 PM...not bad for a century plus with the mechanicals we had today. With the late finish, we worked shuttles to dinner, set up mechanics, and delayed RAP until tomorrow morning to give us a chance to get some rest after a long day...besides, our body time needs time to adjust to the eastern zone...at least mine does.
Tomorrow we have a shorter day...it will be nice to have some mileages under 90 again. We only have 2 weeks to go...it's going to go fast from here. As always, we've made many new friends and hate to see the ride end. I think the riders will soon realize that too. See you tomorrow.
|DID I REALLY SAY THAT?:
"Did you see that cow back there...it had just
had a baby."
"Sondra...you've been married now for a
whole day...how does it feel?"
"Barbara was really thinking yesterday when she had a sign in sheet at the wedding...now Sondra and Jeff have a guest list."
"We all have the wedding jitters."
"I don't know why my tire went flat."
"We've all come all the way from Oregon...do you think we'll let a little thing like a four foot ditch stand in our way? I think not!"
"When I'm really feeling down, I turn to my best two friends...you and chocolate."
"My wife's on vacation so I don't have to talk to her for a week."
"I was complaining about the road I was on and then it got worse...the road was gone!"
"We have nothing to lose but ourselves."
|DID I REALLY DO THAT?:
Minnie Pearl would be proud...Jan said, "Look what I found at the Senior Center...this nice apron and a special on a visor helmet."
DID I REALLY SEE THAT?
Nice jersey...looks like someone is still on the honeymoon. But it's really just the latest in sweep attire.
Ahhh, picturesque farm or strategic missile defense silos?
Lisa, it's just your first day...you can't be tired yet!
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