Archive for the ‘Over the top’ Category

Over the top recap

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

So, we had a great time all in all.  BTW, Cabell made a successful pitch to call the trip WiMiUp, (UP for the Upper Peninsula), and that’s how it’s tagged in my flickr account.  We’ve pooled our photos — 498 of them altogether — at

It was an adventure.  Somehow we managed to have north winds while we were headed north on the west side of the lake, south winds while we headed south on the east side of the lake, and to end the trip, a 15-20 mph NW wind while we rode NW from Manitowoc to Green Bay on the last day.  It was generally colder than I expected.  I knew that mornings were going to be in the low 50s, and highs mostly in the 70s, but these cool temps in combination with the wind (and frequently a mist off the lake) made for chilly riding often.   Several days we kept tights on the entire time.

The Upper Peninsula is beautiful, but often rather sad.  The motels were mostly empty, and every other beach cottage was for sale.  As Bob, the owner of Rosie’s Family Restaurant (see below)

Cabell at Rosie's Family Restaurant

said, high gas prices this year are just the icing on the cake.  The problems really started with the Reagan administration’s union-busting in the air traffic controllers’ strike.  As union strength and American dominance of the car industry have declined, high-paying jobs in Detroit have quite literally gone south, and there are just not that many blue-collar workers vacationing in the UP any more.

Still, I suppose the lack of vacationers worked to our advantage, since roads were quiet
Deer Crossing the road

And the scenery was exquisite.


WiMiUp 036

In the Lower Peninsula’s northwest area, the tourist towns were doing better — not so far to drive from Chicago, etc. — and there were surprisingly many bicyclists.   Several nice bike paths, as well.

WiMiUp 174

Now I’m home icing my left knee, which didn’t really deal with the trip very well.  The doc gave me prescription-strength Naproxen, and I’m starting physical therapy on Monday.   Apparently it’s just irritation of the patellar tendon, but I’m not taking any chances.  I don’t want to be off the bike any longer than I have to.   In any case, we made it.

WiMiUp 308

We’re Baaaack!

Monday, June 30th, 2008

548.66 miles later, we made it back to the car yesterday afternoon about 5:30, after fighting a 15-20 mph headwind the entire way from Manitowoc to Green Bay.  Cabell has started uploading pics, and we’ll be setting up a pool on Flickr with both of our pics in it.

I’ve lacked web access most of the trip, so I’ll be doing a day-by-day recap with photos after I get home.  Right now I’m at Cabell’s apartment in Madison, trying to blog while Izzy jumps on me, and waiting for it to be late enough to reasonably wake Cabell so we can go to breakfast.

Just a quick plug here — we’d never have made it without Patrick’s early morning rescue mission to swap my wheels and get me some new tires at the last possible minute.  Once again, Cape Bicycle comes through in a pinch.

Now officially over the top

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

So we got up Monday morning and went to a bike shop — Cycle Path in Menominee, where I had one burning desire: to get a new magnet for my bike computer.  When I switched the wheels, I forgot to move the magnet from the spokes of the front wheel, and without it the bike computer doesn’t know how fast or far you’re going.  So we got there right at opening time* and I walked in and asked if they had a replacement magnet for a Cateye computer.  The shop owner went back to look, saying “I’ve never thought about that, but it makes sense to stock them.”  He didn’t find one, so he took one out of a new computer box and charged me $3.  A deal, considering my computer is worthless without it.  Cabell also got some gloves — she forgot her new pink ones at home, sadly. 

We had an uneventful day riding from Menominee to Gladstone, except that there was a constant 10-15 mph headwind.  We were beat when we got to Gladstone.  And we weren’t sure where the hotel was.  I called them and asked, and they said we were on the right road, but when we got to 1226, there was no hotel.  I realized finally that we were on SOUTH Lakeside Drive, and the hotel was on NORTH… so we’re riding along, more or less sure we’re going the right way, and this red pickup truck pulls up next to us, the guy rolls down his window, and yells “It’s just about 3/4 of a mile up the road! We’re on the left!”

I did a double or triple take, and finally said “Thanks!” as he sped off.  We got to our hotel, and sure enough, there was the guy behind the desk.  He said “Well, after I got off the phone, I said ‘Crap! Those are the people coming in on bikes!’ And my wife said ‘Yeah, I just passed them down by the gas station.’ So I went out to check on you.”  Full service at the Shorewood Motel in Gladstone.  And btw, only a half-mile walk to a bar with burgers. 

The next day, Tuesday, was much easier riding, and we had lunch at Rosie’s Family Restaurant**, which has great food.  Homemade whole wheat toast, hashbrowns, and a huge omelet.  Yum.

Today we thought we’d get rained on, but the weather was actually very good.  We were well ahead of schedule as we passed the very top of Lake Michigan, and then Cabell had a flat.  I put a new tube in — she’d run over a big piece of wood, at least 1/8 inch thick, that went right through the tire.  I lined the tire with a piece of PowerBar wrapper.  But when she got back on, the brakes rubbed, as the wheel was now out of true.  Fortunately, it was only 6 miles to St. Ignace, our stop for the day, so I adjusted her brakes really loose so they wouldn’t rub, and away we went. ***

In St. Ignace we went to Marlee’s Cruisers, the only bike shop in town — with some trepidation, as the name doesn’t suggest our bikes — but the guys were very helpful, and stocked tires and tubes the right size, trued the wheel, and adjusted the brakes perfectly. 

Now we need to eat and do laundry.  And drink. Tomorrow we head across the Mackinac Bridge onto the Lower Peninsula. 

* I made and printed out a list of all bike shops on the route in advance — you know you’ll need them.

** I’ve forgotten where it is. Somewhere between Gladstone and Manistique.

*** BTW, Cabell has the dirtiest bike in the universe.  Yuck.

Made it to Michigan

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

As planned, we got on the road at 8 AM and drove to Green Bay, where we parked the car in long term parking at the airport.  We then proceeded to ride the wrong way down the wrong road for about a mile, before I discovered the problem, and wound up climbing a totally unnecessary hill in the process.  After a lot of asking directions and puzzling over maps, we finally got out of the Green Bay metro area, and away from all the traffic, and suddenly, as we pedaled down a quiet road, I looked over to the right, and there was Lake Michigan!

It’s pretty up this way — little houses out in the country right on the lakefront, no doubt obscenely overpriced.  A lot of them are for sale, too.  I think I’ll have to pass.  Still, we were enjoying the quiet and the view.  About 2 in the afternoon we found ourselves heading into a very ominous black storm front, and by 3 it was thundering and pouring rain.  We turned off into a driveway, and took refuge in an open garage.  I knocked on the door of the house, but no one was home.  So we just huddled in the garage about half an hour until the rain slacked off a bit. 

Eventually we put on our rain pants and jackets and braved the road again.  All in all, we rode in the rain for about an hour and a half.  I was regretting having left my waterproof shoe covers.  Eventually the sun came out, and we crossed a little bridge into Menominee, Michigan. 

 Our hotel is located right on a bay of the lake, but all we did was walk in, take showers, order pizza, and collapse.  That was a 70 mile day, starting after 11 AM; today is only about 60 miles, and I’m hoping we can get on the road a bit earlier. 

Checking into the hotel, there’s this moment filling out the little card:

“Just put your license number or at least the make an color of your car there.”

“Ummm… We didn’t actually bring one…”

Over the top — ready to go

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

After yesterday morning’s panic fest, I managed to get to Madison a bit before 6 PM, and Cabell and I went out for tacos.  Now I’ve been up since 5, and Cabell is almost ready to go.  We compromised on the start time.

Me: “6:00.”

Cabell:  “No.  How about 8:30?”

Me: “How about 7?”

Cabell: “8:00 and I get to sleep in the car on the way to Green Bay.”

I think I need to work on my negotiation skills.

Over the Top

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I interrupt my recap of the Peru trip to announce… another trip!  I’m leaving tomorrow for Madison to meet up with Cabell.  Sunday we drive to Green Bay, where we’ll park the car, get on the bicycles, and ride north into the Upper Peninsula.  8 days, across the top of Lake Michigan, on the ferry from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City, down the other side to Ludington, and then another ferry across the lake to Manitowoc, Wi, then back to Green Bay to pick up the car.   I’ll look for libraries, etc. and try to post as we go.