June 30

30 06 2009

Day 23:

Somedays the pedaling is effortless, the miles fly by, and everything goes as planned. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days. We left the lodge anticipating another 80 mile day, but after such a long day yesterday, today ended up being “just one of those days.” Starting on the sandy Mountain Bay trail got us off to a very slow start. While it was the most direct route, riding on that surface proved to be slow going and hard on the legs. We decided to get off the trail, have lunch, and continue on the main roads in the afternoon. The riding was easier, but the headwind was still making things difficult and we encountered more hills than expected in Wisconsin. As the afternoon wore on, it got colder, and we grew tired quickly. The problem with the rear wheels became frustrating on the big hills and we managed only 40 miles by 4 o’clock. We made it to Wasau where we stopped in the bike store for directions regarding the next few days. When we were leaving the store we ran into a local police officer who offered his assistance. He actually called a good friend of his to get better advice about getting to Minneapolis – his friend (Bill) even offered to host us at his house! Thank you Andrew – It was great talking with you. We had hopped to get in another 20 miles before we called it quits, but there was nowhere to stay within 40 plus miles so we decided to call it a day and check in to the Hampton Inn. As soon as we did the skies opened up and poured, good timing I guess. Though we only logged 45 miles today, it felt like a long day and we are very ready for bed. We will be up early tomorrow to hopefully log some big miles and still get to Minneapolis by Friday.

Happy 18th Kelly! Thanks for looking after Tracker too!

June 29

30 06 2009

Day 22:

We were surprised and thrilled to wake up to a dry morning at the campground since the forecast had called for rain and thunderstorms through the night and into today. We said goodbye to Steve and finished packing up, but we ran into him again after our 7-mile ride to breakfast; he was leaving town and we were headed for Rico’s Family Restaurant where we enjoyed a great breakfast – banana nut caramel pancakes!! From there we headed out with the wind in our faces once again. We took advantage of our drafting techniques to make riding easier. 30 miles of rolling hills got us to Shiocton for a Subway lunch. Even with the wind we had made pretty good time; we hoped to take advantage of our early start and have a high mileage day. After lunch we took off for Shawano, another 25 miles away. It only rained a few times during the afternoon ride, and we lucked out weather wise today. But it was hard to keep the right gear on because it would down pour for 10 minutes and then the sun would come right back out and we would start sweating in our rain gear, and then back to rain. With a brief snack stop we made it to town around 4 o’clock but had to stop and repair a flat tire on Zach’s bike. We stopped by Joe BikeLer’s shop in town to have yet another spoke on Jake’s rear wheel replaced. Their service was great! Jim fixed Jake’s wheel, while Seth pumped our tires and gave us dinner recommendations, and Stana helped us find a place to stay at our destination and gave us some free snack samples! Once again, we are very impressed by the friendly people who are so eager to help. We headed downtown for dinner and decided to knock out the last 20 miles after dinner. With the sun setting we took off in our “sunset sprint” down the Mountain Bay Bike Trail towards Bowler. It was a pretty smooth ride once we got on the trail, and we were happy to be somewhat sheltered from the wind. The deer were in abundance and we must have seen at least a dozen run right in front of us or along side us during our ride. We were making good time and it looked like we would make it before dark, but when we reached town it appeared we had gone too far. Uneasy about trusting the GPS again, we were forced to turn on our lights and ride an additional 5 miles in the dark. Finally, after 84 miles, we arrived at the Konkapot Lodge in Bowler, WI. Showered and settled into bed after a long day, we are getting anxious about making it to Minneapolis and meeting up with Mom – We can’t wait!

June 28

29 06 2009

Day 22:
After waking up early, the crew enjoyed a light breakfast at our motel. Unfortunately this was the last thing we ate for a while. We loaded the bikes and headed out around 9 AM. We reached the first set of lights and came upon a man pedaling alone and heading in the same direction as us, even to the same campground. His name is Steve and he ended up joining us for the day. Steve, who is familiar with the Minneapolis, MN area, was able to shed some light on the safest and most efficient way to meet up with Mom later this week. He even offered to let us use his house/car while in the city. Thank you Steve, it was great meeting you! Immediately Wisconsin blessed us with 25+ mph headwinds from the West, and we were forced to ride right into the wind. As we rode by farm after farm, we could see the wheat blowing in the exact opposite direction we were headed. This made it very hard to keep a good pace and it felt as if we were going up hill the entire time. Pedaling very hard and making little distance can be quite discouraging. Aside from the wind the weather today was perfect, great temperatures and sunny skies all day….if only the wind was blowing the other direction! Our maps had told us that Potter, WI (25 miles from our motel) has somewhere to eat. If it did, we certainly couldn’t find it. By that point, we were all very hungry and more than ready for a break from the wind. With the help of a few locals we were able to change our route slightly and navigate Hilbert, where we found lunch at Kraggy’s Family Restaurant. A good meal, friendly staff, and delicious ice cream got us ready for the afternoon. Considering the 30 miles under our belt and the fact that we were pretty exhausted from the high winds, we decided that our destination would be the Apple Creek Campground in Freedom, WI. While still encountering high winds we managed to push our way through the last 22 miles and arrive at the campground around 3:30. We enjoyed a swim and reasonably priced showers (unlike Temple, MI). Right now it is approaching 7pm CST and we once again hungry. Time for dinner….

All in all not a bad day, considering we logged 52 miles straight into the wind (our first real struggle with the headwind) and finished reasonably early. It was nice to have some new company and such a gorgeous day for ridding. We can only hope for more of the same tomorrow …minus the wind of course!

June 27

27 06 2009

Day 21:

Although the idea of sleeping in appealed to almost all of us, the 93 mile ride the day before still did not stop us from getting up around 5:30 am and heading out soon after towards the S.S. Badger. As we arrived at the S.S Badger we met up with Mike, a man who was taking the same route as us but was stopping in Milwaukee. It was great to chat with him throughout the ride and we were very impressed by his lack of gear and stealth camping techniques! After we left our bikes down in the hull of the ship, we headed to the main deck where we looked forward to a much needed breakfast and four hour nap. Within minutes Jake was fast asleep, followed soon after by Dad. Jake was sound alseep on top of the maps Dad had been looking at. No one cares about Maggie and Zach. The rest of the group relaxed on the bow of the ship, laying in the sun for the majority of the ride across Lake Michigan. Jake joined them after waking up the first time but fell asleep once again. Four hours later we arrived in Wisconsin, even though Jake felt as if he had just fallen asleep. Watching Jake wake up to the ferry’s blasting horn was very entertaining for the others. Getting off the ferry we headed towards “The Bicycle and Fitness Co.” to get some much needed repairs on our bikes, the rear wheels once again. Mike accompanied us to the store but said goodbye shorty after. It was great to meet you…good luck! Jeremy did a great job truing the wheels and Jake gave us great advice on places to stay and roads to travel on, thanks! With our bikes all fixed we headed to Warren’s Diner for some lunch. We were in contact with the guys at Dover Cyclery and they got a hold of the Fuji dealer who is sending some new wheels to Minneapolis for us – Thanks for the great service! Once our stomachs were full we decided to take the rest of the day off by finding a nice Comfort Inn to relax and unwind in. Earlier today we had decided that it was time to take our first real rest day. But we still covered some distance on the ferry (if that counts) and once we arrived in town. Juging by the uncontrolable laughter at dinner everyone is in need of a good night’s sleep. We are hoping to get plenty of rest tonight and are looking forward to biking through Wisconsin tomorrow.

June 26

26 06 2009

Day 20:

93 miles! A very long day for sure, and certainly not what we had planned. For the first time we woke up to a sunny and completely dry morning in our tents, a great start to the day. We got an early start and found breakfast after a quick 5 miles. From there we headed down a hilly route for 20 miles until we arrived in Le Roy for drinks and snacks at the general store. While there we took a closer look at our route and realized that instead of the 66 miles we had expected, it would actually be more like 90 miles until we reached the ferry. Having planned to board the ferry for its second crossing at 8 PM and arrive in Wisconsin around midnight, we had to readjust. We doubted that we would make the evening ferry, but knew that we still needed to make it to Ludington so we could at least catch it in the morning. Another quick 20 miles got us to Luther for lunch at Loggers Landing. We were making good time and there was still a possibility of making the ferry. We cruised through the first 15 miles until a decision to rely on the GPS caused us some problems – that’s the last time we do that!. One dirt road led to another and we found ourselves in the middle of the woods on a very sandy trail. After a few wipeouts walking the bikes became necessary and we confirmed that our bikes are not made for off road terrain, they certainly are not mountain bikes! We pushed the heavy bikes through the sandy dunes until we finally arrived back on the main road. It seemed that we were most definitely not going to make it in time. Despite making great time through the next 15 miles we eventually ran into the wind. We decided to call and make reservations for the night in Ludington and then get the ferry in the morning. Good thing we did because a few wrong turns set us back once again. Everyone was getting tired and we were happy to finally arrive at the Shoreline Inn right on Lake Michigan after 93 miles (our longest day yet!). Maggie and Dad took advantage of the pool and spa as we awaited our pizza delivery. Tomorrow morning we will be up early to catch the 8 AM ferry to Wisconsin. Unless of course we sleep in and take the evening ferry later on…

June 25

25 06 2009

Day 19:

After a great breakfast we left the comforts of the Hampton Inn with clean clothes and ice-cold water bottles – thanks again Sue! It was shaping up to be another hot day, despite the early raindrops. Luckily the rain held off, the forecasted thundershowers were nonexistent, and the sun was shining all day. We stopped by Ray’s bike shop before leaving town to get Jake’s pesky rear wheel looked at once more. Another broken spoke seemed to be the problem. With that fixed, our tires pumped, and a new supply of tubes, we headed down the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. We cruised along the nicely paved, and flat, trail for about 18 miles until we stopped for cold Gatorade and snacks. After refueling we continued to follow the trail until it ended in Clare at mile 33. We found lunch in town at a Chinese restaurant and firmed up our plans for the remainder of the day. We struggled in the wind for a few miles on a busy road, but after stopping for ice cream and more cold drinks things got a bit easier. The afternoon brought back some hills we haven’t seen in a while. But even in the heat, the hills were a nice change in terrain. After working on the uphills, there is a rewarding breeze on the speedy downhill stretches. We followed the rolling hills around multiple lakes until we arrived in Lake George, bypassing one campground and sticking to our original plan. We called to make sure there were sites at the campground in Temple (that certainly wasn’t a problem, we are one of 2 groups here tonight!) and completed the remaining 9 miles. Once in town, we got directions to the only restaurant and headed that way. We arrived at Club 61, a run down bar where our interesting stay in Temple began. Stepping in the door, everyone in the pub stopped and stared at us until we sat down – I guess we were a little out of place! We quickly ordered burgers, but had plenty of time to take in our surroundings as we waited about 45 minutes for food. A rough crowd in the restaurant, fixated on beer, cigarettes, and Keno made for some very entertaining people watching. Leaving the restaurant we found the campground just down the road. The park was closed for the night so we started towards the tenting site area, but found a deserted campground and another mosquito invasion. So we headed back to the main campground, climbed under the gates, and set up on a slightly more inviting site. With the exception of a group of women a few sites over, we are the only ones in the whole campground. That explains why only the women’s bathroom is unlocked. We bought some shower tokens from them since the store was closed when we arrived. Each token costs 75 cents and is worth just TWO MINUTES of shower time. We ended up with 3 tokens, a total of 6 minutes for 4 people! Dad decided to take one for the team and forgo the shower tonight, though I am not sure if he is the only one sacrificing – Jake shares his tent! The three of us, in the women’s bathroom, rushed through our super short showers and headed back to camp. We started a fire to keep the bugs off and called home. Tomorrow we hope to make it to Ludington, ready to cross Lake Michigan. It seems that everyone else is fast asleep and I am almost there myself. Glad I brought the earplugs!

June 24

24 06 2009

Day 18:

Another very, very hot day in Michigan today, definitely the hottest we have experienced so far. Leaving the cool motel room for breakfast we felt the heat right away. A few wrong turns at the beginning forced us to backtrack a few miles, but we had a pretty easy ride throughout the rest of the morning. Finally after 13 miles, we arrived at a small gas station for cold drinks (water doesn’t stay cold long in this heat) and a short break. From there we began the 25 miles through more farmland and very little shade until we reached Bay City. We stopped and asked a local biker for a place to eat lunch and he quickly pointed us towards the Stock Pot Diner just a few blocks away. Lunch was great, and the staff was wonderful. Thank you Michelle, Vince, Cindy, and Joy! They were genuinely interested in our trip and we enjoyed our extended lunch break in the cool restaurant to chat with them. While at lunch we made reservations to stay in Midland…first priority being a hotel with a pool. After a good meal, ice filled water bottles, and pictures with the friendly staff (see photos) we set our sites on a hotel in Midland. The afternoon heat was brutal and we stopped often for short breaks in the shade (under bridges, beneath trees, and behind buildings). With about 5 miles to go, we experienced our second flat tire. This time a thumb tack was lodged in Dad’s front wheel. Stuck on the side of the highway, unshielded from the heat, we replaced the tube in less than 10 minutes. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the Hampton Inn in Midland. The staff was awesome! We quickly guzzled the ice water in the lobby and they offered to put some cold water pitchers in the room, an offer we could not refuse. Storage for the bikes, dinner coupons, and a dryer for our laundry were added bonuses. As soon as we unloaded the bikes, we headed for the pool. After a refreshing swim, and lounge outside, we showered and headed next-door for dinner at Damon’s. We are once again tired and ready for bed early. We will finish up laundry tonight and plan tomorrow’s route – we need to get to a bike store in the morning and stock up on spare tubes. Even after today’s struggle in the heat, we all agree that the heat is much more preferable to the wind and the rain.