Monday, September 19, 2016


     I have cycled in thirty-five of the fifty United States and wanted to include a few more (some of them I have absolutely no interest in).  We have a large National Geographic map of the US on a wall in the computer room with pins representing where I have ridden.  In reviewing it one day I realized that of the four states bordering Texas, I had not cycled in any of them.  That became a priority.  See my June 21, 2016 entry describing the New Mexico ride.  Arkansas and Oklahoma are on the agenda for 2017.  You might have to beat me to do something in Louisiana.  Then my wife called out from the living room....
     Marilane is a real tourist (I go places, but am not really a tourist).  She also likes to escape the summer heat in Texas.   Michigan's Upper Peninsula had been suggested as a great place to visit.  It had the Great Lakes, Painted Rocks, cool weather.  As an added inducement, she found the Door County Century (DCC) which is in Wisconsin, either on the way to or from the UP.  The timing was perfect.  Many of our trips occur for this very reason: the calendar was blank.  I could add pins to two more states.
     One more thing before getting to the century ride.  I planned three 45-mile rides in Michigan: Curtis to Grand Marais, Marquette to Munising, Munising to Manistique.  The first two were quite enjoyable rides on smooth roads with good shoulders.  The third one was rained out (I don't "do" rain; I have rain gear if I get caught out, but will skip a ride if it is raining).  Just as well.  We drove from Munising to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the rain.  The White Lace Inn is in the downtown historic section of Sturgeon Bay and only a mile and a half from the start line of the DCC.
     The DCC folks are very clear that this is a ride, not a race.  As such, the start times are from 6am to 10am.  Start whenever you like, just finish by 5pm.  My sleep pattern always has me awake ridiculously early, so I left the inn at 5:45am in the dark.  It was a little funny at the start line, in that there were a few people standing under it conversing.  I noticed the time, 6:02, and started off.  There were a few folks ahead of me, and others behind were clipping in.  No mass start.
     It was now light enough, about twenty minutes before sunrise.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect: 54 degrees, a light wind mostly at our backs, clear.  I wore my tights, base layer, jersey, and wind jacket and was quite comfortable.  Most folks had less clothing, more power to them.  I latched on to a guy, not really on his wheel but our cadence matched and we stayed together about ten miles until I stopped to put my sunglasses on (they were entangled in the map in my pocket, necessitating two hands).
     I rode through the first rest stop, about fifteen miles into the ride, hop-scotching the half-dozen riders who had passed me.  Because of my early start, and slow pace (15 mph), I wasn't passing anyone, but almost always had someone in sight.  The signage for this ride rates A+.  Every turn well marked.  I cruised along enjoying the ride, getting occasional glimpses of Green Bay.  On one stretch of road, with corn on my right and the rising sun at an angle that created a strobe-affect on the sunglasses, I had to stretch out on the aerobars to escape it.  A few minutes, I was sitting up straight for the same reason.  Eventually, I ran out of corn and back into tranquil shade.
     At the second rest stop, I refueled and removed the wind jacket.  The wind was cool and dry and the temperature had moved into the 60s, so tights and base layer stayed in place.  Besides, my pockets were now full so I had no place to stuff them.  When the 70 mile and 100 mile routes split I found myself alone for a few miles.  Eventually some riders passed me.  We still had Green Bay on our left and a smooth shaded road to cycle.
     As we came to Sister Bay, I once again found myself without riders ahead or behind.  No problem, I followed the sign pointing to the right, and the next sign going right, and settled in going south on Hwy 57.  After a mile or so I began to doubt that I had made the correct turn.  But up ahead I saw riders crossing the highway, and when I got there I asked some other riders if this were the 100 mile route.  This they affirmed, so I followed them.  About a mile further and I realized I had seen this scenery about an hour earlier.  Pook, ding-fu!  I turned around and returned to Hwy 57 and stopped to consult the map.  Unfortunately I couldn't discern where I was in regard to the route, but I knew if I stayed south on 57, I would come to the next rest stop.  About a half mile more and I saw riders crossing again.  This time I found the cross street and was back on the route.  I calculated I'd done at least three extra miles.  But the next mileage marker had me down three and a half miles, so apparently I cut off six-plus miles.  Later I found out some local had messed with the signs (sending bad thoughts his way).
     The breeze was now mostly from the front, but really it served more to keep me cool and dry than a hindrance to speed.  The sun was up, the sky clear blue, and now the 50-mile route riders were converging.  Ah, finally some folks who were slower than me.  Truthfully, I do not remember stopping at the Cave Point rest stop.  I must have, to refill my bottle and text Marilane that I would be in at 1:30pm rather than 2:00pm.  My rule of thumb is stopping for no more than five minutes unless completely knackered.
     The next sixteen miles continued with Lake Michigan on my left.  About half mile from the last rest stop another rider finally engaged me in conversation.  After the first pleasantries, we were just getting into a discussion when I turned off and he continued.  Ah well!  I had a mini-Clif bar and topped off the bottle and texted Marilane my arrival time was now 1pm.  While I wasn't going very fast, I wasn't slowing down.  And there weren't any real photo ops, in that I knew the lake was there, but couldn't see it.
     The last five miles were a bit twisty-turny and some riders felt the need to race to the end.
 I just meandered in.  I was tired but not beat to a pulp.  The pasta lunch and free Fat Tire beer, watching the first half of the Packers game (with several hundred Green Bay fans) on a big screen helped ease me back to some semblance of normal.  A long nap back at the B&B helped also.

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