Tuesday, July 24, 2012


If you landed this page and want to read about my tour from the beginning, please scroll down to the end this page or use the menu bar on the right side of this page, start from the top of the "Blog Archive" which is in reverse order.

I had a great time on my tour, rode 429 miles over an 8 day period, had a rest day in between. I enjoyed conversing with people from all around Michigan. It brought back many memories when visiting places or riding through them. I also want to thank my wife for allowing me to implement and successfully execute my summer vacation plans with the kids and this bike tour.
Well I owe the waitress $10, I lost 3 Lbs while riding 429 miles, that's 143 miles per pound, I need to lose 15 more pounds. So my next tour needs to be 2145 miles, I don't think so, no time for a tour of that length.

Things that I would do different:
I think I would pick a different time of year to take this tour maybe late August or the week before Labor day weekend or early June. July to mid-August is very unpredictable when it comes to weather. At least it did not rain everyday, it only rained twice and I was never riding while it rained.

Things that I would upgrade or replace for my next tour:
New Panniers,  mine are over thirty years old and not water proof.
Seal up my tent seams, they leaked even with the rainfly. The rainfly does not cover my entire tent, it only covers the opening at the top of the tent. OR make my own rainfly that covers the entire tent.
Industrial strength USB cables that can take a beating
I need to rebuild my rear wheel or purchase a new one, I'm still researching on why I had so many issues with it.
My feet overheated  and were always wet from sweating, my biking shoes do not breath very well. The only solution to this is buy biking sandals. Bike Nashbar has them, I will watch for them when they go on sale.

Day 8 Alto to East Lansing 51 miles total 429miles

Day 8 Alto to East Lansing..

I get up around 7:00am and have my usual steal cut oats with peanut butter and coffee. Pack up and on the road around 9:00am. I ride about 3 miles and another spoke broke it takes about 30 minutes to repair now I have no more spare spokes and have 46 miles to go.and another thing I noticed was my USB cable that changes my phone is no longer working and the spare one that I brought along does not work with my phone. This was happening the day before and I was wondering why my phone was not charging, I went through 2 batteries and had one that was half charged, I forgot to recharge all my batteries at my bro's house. So I switch over to my backup phone and used it for navigation. I really did not need it because I knew where I was and all I had to do was to find Willow road in Grand Ledge and that would take me to Lansing. I kind of remembered where things are it was coming back to me especially when entering Grand Ledge, I used to live in East Lansing 30 years ago, so my memory is serving me well.

Around 1:00pm about 2 miles outside Lake Odessa I hear another pop and its a spoke, I pedal into Lake Odessa thinking that I will find a bar and call my brother to pick me up. But I tighten some pokes and get the wheel straighten out enough where the brakes are not rubbing against the rim. So I ride on and not take to many breaks, arrived into into Grand Ledge then get lost trying to find Willow Rd. eventually I found it, then came across a Quality Dairy store and had to have a QD Ice Cream cone. Get back on the road and follow Willow road all the way into Lansing and find Capital Ave that takes me to Michigan Ave, then Kalamazoo and now I'm in East Lansing I take my last turn onto my brother Mikes street and another spoke pops, only another quarter mile to go. Around 3:15pm with two spokes broken and almost dead phone I pull up into my Bros driveway and he is outside trimming shrubs and drinking beer of course. I think that this was a good day to end my tour. Google map of today's route http://goo.gl/maps/7vl6

Day 7 - Grand Haven to Alto 64 miles total 378 miles

Day 7 - Grand Haven to Alto

Woke around 8:00am and had the best breakfast on this trip eggs, bacon, potatoes and orange juice, thanks Kathy for making all that happen.

Got on the road around 9:30am and headed south toward Holland. 11:00am the headwinds and heat started to build up, heat does not bother me too much, but I will never get used to headwinds. Today was an uneventful day, I stopped at a Subway around 2:00pm somewhere southwest of Grand Rapids and people  pretty much kept to themselves, or maybe I made myself unapproachable not too sure what it was. So it was one of those days of just ride and keep on riding to get to your end point for the day. As I started heading east I had tailwinds which improved my avg for the day, but had some rolling hills to deal with.
Around 3:30pm I arrive at my destination the Tyler Creek County Club and campground. Park my bike in front of the clubhouse all hot and sweaty, I see people in suites or were well dressed walking around and I thought wow what a county club with a campground, hope they will let a smelly sweater biker in their club house so I walk in and the help was frantically running around doing things and i stood at the desk but no one was helping me so my gut was that I'm right who wants to help this sweaty old dude at the counter.Hmm I thought I may need to go somewhere else, but then someone stopped to help me, asked for rustic site and it was $25 normally $20 but it was still a holiday weekend even though its July 7th so every one charged Holiday rates for two weekend this 4th of July since it fell on a Wednesday.The only issue with being on  a bike is that you can't leave and easily go somewhere else, you kind of have to take it or take it and that is the choice you have, who wants to bike another 10-15 miles to find another alternative after riding 64miles when temps are still in the 90's. So I pay the $25 and get a site next to a stream. Setup camp, take a shower and decide that I will eat at the country club grill.

The skies start to open up and  it downpours just as I was arriving at the club. Well to find out a wedding party is going on in back of the clubhouse and that is why there were well dressed people when I first arrived at the county club, it was the parents of the groom and bride who were inside making everyone run around when I walked in. So I looked at the menu, the burger looks good so I try to order one and they cannot make one because all the cooking equipment is utilized at the wedding. That's the kind of wedding it it? ...it's a deep fryer, burger maker type of Wedding I bet they got the rollers spinning some dogs and brats with heat lamps on them. So I order a Labbat Blue take a look at the back of the clubhouse and I see the rest of the people are not as well dressed, then I thought wow only if I could dress it up one more notch,  I could crash this thing. I opted out of that plan, because I had no slacks or dress shirt. So back to survival mode, the beers Labbat Blue beers were $2 and the only food they had were bags of chips and pretzels, so I have Pretzels, Barbecue potato chips, Doritos, more pretzels 4 bags in all, now if they only had Pork Rinds this would have topped everything off. So the rain stopped and after having 4 beers, I order 2 more to go and buy a cigar for $7 my total tab was $19. Get back to my site and make pasta, olive oil with hot sauce. I check my rear tire and noticed I broke another spoke and replace it. I get my fishing pole do some fishing in the stream get a few nibbles, smoke my cigar and drink my beers so it was a relaxing end of day.
Google maps of today's ride http://goo.gl/maps/AS1pF

Avg 12.8Mph
Roadkill stopped counting, maybe I was in a fog and that's why I was unapproachable

Day 6 - Day off RR

Today was a RR day and went back out on the boat, no tubing just swimming, beer drinking and soaking up the sun and not trying to look too much like Snookie. My kids are at the Jersey Shore with my sister-in-law I hope she puts lots of sun block on them I do not want them to look like that as well. Anyhow, we had a great time all day long and my bro invited our Cousin Bill to come by and have a few beers, we all up until 12:30-1:00am, I cant remember when I got to bed. I had be up early and back on the road in the morning.

Day 5 - Hart to Grand Haven 60 miles total 314

Day 5 - Hart to Grand Haven..

I woke up in a bed and thought I was still dreaming and pinched myself then reality took over, time to get going. It was nice to sleep in a bed instead of sleeping on the ground for the last 4 days. Packed up and got on the road at 8:15. One my goals was to get on the road before 8:00am everyday, so far I have not yet met that goal. Since I did not have breakfast in the Motel room, decided to get on the road and search out for a place to eat. Today will be mostly rail trails,  I started out on the Hart-Montague rail trail and about 2 miles I hit a small town of Mears, found a Antique dealer that served a few breakfast items such as bagels, donuts and coffee, I went for the bagel and coffee, had good conversation with the lady who owned shop.

Back on the rail trail around 9:30am,  the rail-trail was built in the early to mid 80's, I remember living in Michigan and riding this trail around 1984-85, so its almost 30 years old. So it is interesting to see how new tails have advanced in construction and design since this one was built. This trail is narrower than new rail trail systems and I see no drainage on this trail. Some sections have lots of cracks and buckling protruding at least an inch upward, which makes a very bumpy ride. This is probably because too much water build up underneath and the freezing and thawing . While riding my side view mirror attached to my lower handlebar fell off where the screw came loose and fell out, I stopped to retrieve the mirror, but could not find the screw. Luckily I have my helmet mirror as a backup. As the bumpy ride continued I then lost one my water bottles, turned around to pick it up. I finally came upon a new section of the trail and now was smooth riding.

My plans for the day are to meet up with my Cousin Bill in Muskegon and have lunch with him around 1:00pm. I called him and asked him for a good place to meet up and I gave him some road names I will be ridding through town, then he came up with a place to meet up at the Olive Tree Cafe. While on route through Muskegon I come upon another bicycle tourist, I slow down to stop and say "Hi" but he passed right on by and kept going. I thought it was customary to stop and exchange general information about your tour with your fellow cycle tourists, but I guess that's not the always the case. I then continued on a trail that took me along Lake Muskegon which was a real nice view all around the lake, then ADD set in and I was not watching my route on the phone to get to the restaurant and missed a few turns, had to re-route my Google maps. I wish Google had auto re-route feature for bicycling as they do for car driving. So finally I arrive at the restaurant around 1:00pm, had a Gyro and had good conversation with my Cousin for about an hour.

Around 2:00pm I got back on the road where my next stop is to meet up with my Brother Rich at his vacation bungalow in Grand Haven. I give him a call around 3:00pm to tell him I'm a half hour out, but the phone rings twice then stops,.hmm maybe is on his boat way out on lake Michigan out of cell range I try a few more time but no avail. I arrive around 3:30 and no one was home, but the door was unlocked, so I opened it yelled if anyone was home but no answer and then proceeded in. Just to make sure I'm in the right place I look down and see size 13 shoes on the floor, that's a good sign that I'm in the right place. I proceed to look around for more evidence, I see a picture of my Bro and Kathy together and said "Bingo" and head straight for the fridge for a beer. Went back outside and had a cigar and drink a few more beers. I tried to call again but no avail. About 4:30pm my bro shows up he was at the store picking up a few boating items; come to find out I had his old cell phone number in my phone. 

We then took a ride to the marina where the boat is docked and to fix up some things. Kathy and her kids and my Niece Meredith also meetup with us on the boat where we disembarked around 5:30 to go tubing on lake Michigan. This is what Michigan is all about in the summer, a beautiful large lake where water temperature was 76 degrees and the air  temperature in the 90s and sunny. What a way to cool off after riding 60 miles. The kids all went tubing and had a blast flying through the air. Then it was the older crowd to give it a try, so Kathy and I jump on, my bro said he would take easy, but he fibbed and floored it. I was hoping maybe since I was a lot heavier than the kids, the boat would be slower, but my fat ass was no match for twin V8's. We stayed on the tube for about 10 minutes, I saw Kathy fall off so I let go as well, I was getting too much water up my nose. Overall it was a fun to see how long I could stay up on the tube. No pictures to busy meeting up and getting around today.Tommorrow I have a day off to relax and go back out on the boat.
Google Map of today's ride http://goo.gl/maps/DNm03

Avg 11.8Mph
No roadkill..rode mostly rail trails
Temperature was mid 90's but humidity was lower than yesterday

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 4 - Hersey to Hart 66 miles total 254 miles

Day 4 Rode a 66 miles from Hersey to Hart.

Woke up around 6:45 and checked my clothes to see if they dried out, but with the heavy dew mo change same old damp clothes, made coffee and Oatmeal(quick steel cut oats) with Peanut Butter and Honey, which has been my usual breakfast for the last 3 days. Packed up my wet clothes and got on the road around 8:45 not sure why it took 2 hours to get on the road, temperature was already in the lower 70's. I jumped back on the Pere-Marquette trail for about 5 miles and got off the trail and back on the road just before Reed City, this is where the pavement ends which then is a poorly maintained dirt trail.

I stopped around 11:00 to buy a gallon of water and top of my bottles the thermometer read 92 degrees. Then the hills started to get steeper and the humidity higher and then headwinds started to pick up, this is the 4 H's the cyclist worst conditions to be in Heat, Humidity, Headwinds and Hills.
So around 12:30 near a lake town, a Redneck couple walking down the street drinking Busch tall boys in a brown bag, they say to me as I was passing by "Yea baby it's gonna be a hot one today". Just to validate that they were real Rednecks...1 Drinking Busch beer, 2. Missing tooth or two, 3. sleeves torn off from shirt,  that fits a Redneck profile. Well it sure was nice that someone concurred with me  besides the weatherman that it will be hot one.

Stopped again around 2:30pm to cool off,s now its 97 degrees, I buy two gallons of cold water, one for dousing it over my head and the other to drink. My mapped stopping point is supposed to be Silver Lake State park so it looks like its another 25 miles and I have already rode 51 miles. So I get back on and started riding, my mapped route takes me to a dirt road. I remember when planning the route and reviewing the satellite maps that there was a dirt road and thought it would be nice to mix it up and have this as a change for scenery for about 3 miles. I took the road and this was was a very big mistake, it started out as packed dirt then became sandy, then wash boards every where, then hills where I had to get off the bike to push it in 97 degree heat. Then to top it all off, then came running toward me a barking German Shepard, but he stopped 20 feet from me, I gave him a look that sopped him in his tracks, then he just looked me like I was nuts, so I just kept on pushing my bike.That was the longest 3 miles on/off my bike so far.

I finally get into Hart around 4:00pm and I'm exhausted, still in the upper 90's and it doesn't feel like its gonna cool down for the night maybe in the 80's and that's not very comfortable sleeping weather. So I Google hotels on my phone and find 3 of them, 2 Hotels are booked then I called the Motel in-town and had rooms for $120, I said "That's a little steep, but I will take it". I rode 6 blocks checked in and he gave me a real door key, I cant remember the last time I used a real key for a room, actually I cant remember the last time I stayed  in a Motel.  But too my surprise the Motel was clean, comfortable and cool. Once I cooled off I went to  Schooners to grab bite to eat.  While eating and drinking margaritas I attempted to blog on Facebook, I wrote the Day 3 blog and posted it and never posted and lost all my data. So I gave up blogging on Facebook and that is why I'm using the Google blogger.

I headed back to the Motel and stopped at a gas station to pick up beer, but instead I purchased 3 Bud Margaritas. Stepped outside onto the Lido Deck(aka Parking lot) around 9:30pm, sat down on some fine plastic Adirondack furniture and lit up a cigar. From there I could see the Bank's marquee scrolling along with the temperature 90 degrees. I'm really glad I did not continue on to Silver Lake and camp for the night, there is no way I could have fallen asleep while sweating in a tent. So after my second drink around 10:15 the temperature now reads 89, that was my highlight for the night and maybe after my third one it will fall another degree. So by 11:00pm I'm finished and still read 89 degrees, then I call it a night. Google maps Bike route for today's ride http://goo.gl/maps/Ki1E7.

Drying out my stuff, still wet in the Morning
Hart Motel

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day 3 Sanford to Hersey, Mi 62 miles - Total 188 miles

Day 3 - rode 63 miles... I woke up from a sound sleep when a severe wind gust shook my tent and seem too hit it like a brick at 4:30am, I opened my eyes and saw lightening flashes and heard a lot of roaring thunder. It may have been a brick of wind hitting my tent, but I think I shit a brick at the same time. Just a few hours before this I had a six pack of Guinness feeling great and sleeping like log, I guess you can call it "Passed Out". This was a rude awakening from mother nature. The weather report mentioned possible thunderstorms in the morning but I was not thinking of that it was going to be  "Early in the morning". So of course I was not at all prepared,  I left everything out on the picnic table such as electronics, camping gear ETC . I knew I had very little time, like less than a minute to get everything in the tent before the rain hit. First thing was to get my flashlight and now panic stricken and could not find my flash light, it was under my sleeping bag.  I finally found it and ran out of the tent half naked(I will not tell you which half). Then the rain hit hard in a deluge of a down pour. I grabbed most of the stuff off the table and threw it into the tent, but I could not find the rainfly to cover the top opening of the tent. As I am scrambling to find the rainfly, I'm throwing clothes on top of the tent to stop it from flooding inside my tent. I found it on the ground where a gust of wind must have blown it, attach it to the tent. Now everything inside of the tent is soaked as well as me. I worked mopping up all the little puddles on my tent floor and get back to sleep around 6:00am.

Woke up 9:00am and started packing up to get on the road by 10:00. I was ready to take down my tent and low n' behold I hear thunder, then check my radar on my phone and I see another storm coming my way. I head for cover once again back into the tent. Thunderstorms subsided and checked the radar to see that the skies will say clear for the next few hours. 

I pack up and hit the road by 1:00pm where my next stop over will be Hersey. I ride on the Pere Marquette rail trial for a about 11 miles and stop for Lunch at a Mexican restaurant and ate huge Wet Burrito combination plate, rice and beans lots of sour cream about 2k calories worth of food. So I was discussing my trip with the waitress and she said "I bet your going to lose some weight after your trip", I said "10 dollars not, especially if I keep eating this way". So I ate the whole 2k and I pry myself off the seat with a bloated stomach and get on my bike, ride about 1/4 mile and find a bike shop. I needed more spokes since I had only one spare spoke. The owner gave my two spokes for free since they were used ones. I get back on the road(trail) and at the same time I get back on the trail and older gentlemen cycling in the same direction exchanged greetings with me, we talked for about 50minutes(10Miles). We conversed about my current tour and his upcoming tour with an organized group that will be touring the upper portion of lower Michigan. We also talked transportation systems and politics. He was a great guy to talk too while riding and in which he was the Dean of Engineering Sciences at UDM (Unitversity Detroit Mercy) http://eng-sci.udmercy.edu/about/dean/index.htm  . I arrived into Hersey at 8:10 pm, now I need to dry out all my clothes in a very short time only have an hour of sun. Google maps bike route  http://goo.gl/maps/DLmc 

Avg Speed 8.7Mph I had the 3 H's today, Heat, Headwinds and Humidity
Road kill 1 Small field Mouse.
Live Animals - Dozen Geese, 1/2 dozen rabbits, one snake crossing (I did not identify it, It was brown and that is all I know when I passed it) and a few field mice.
A deer that jumped out  20 feet in front of me and scared the crap out of me because I was looking off in the the woods in the opposite direction, that was real cool.
I did have a dog chase me, but did not come very close so it was not a close encounter.

Cool Bicycle rack
At a tunnel entrance this was after eating a large Mexican
 meal my got is extra bloated i wish it was special effects
Another bridge
Geese crossing had to stop but they would not go anywhere
 so they eventually move as I got closer
A downed tree across the trail, it was from the same storm that hit me. The weatherman was saying up to 50 to 60 Mph  winds.

Day 2 Frankenmuth to Sanford 58 miles - Total 126 miles

Day 2 - Rode 58 miles in 93 degree heat and humidity seems to have increased from yesterday.
Started out @ 8:06am temp was Mid 60s left Frankenmuth and headed north, rode through Saginaw south side was pretty depressing bars on windows or boarded up houses throughout the neighborhoods.. Then north side of Saginaw was Malls. I rode around to the west side of Midland stopped at Overlook park to see the massive Dow Chemical complex. Then I connected to the Pere Marquette rail trail and arrived at the campground 3:05. Black Creek State Forrest Campground. Google maps route for day 2  http://goo.gl/maps/A3ze

57.9 miles Avg 13.3 Mph
A lot less roadkill than yesterday but I guess most of it was City riding and Tail riding
My Degree stick deodorant melted down and became liquid from the heat in a Ziploc bag along with lots of other toiletries in the same bag such as my toothbrush, Rolaids ETC now everything has a deodorant film on it and my toothbrush has funky taste. My sunblock also leaked into my panniers. So I picked up new deodorant and sunblock at a drugstore in Frankenmuth.
No dogs chasing me again 2 days in a row
So far a total of 122 miles
Tomorrow will be all rail-trails to Hersey, Mi
Dow Chemical Plant complex
BTW the grass is not dead from the chemical plant spewing deadly gasses
 from its smoke stacks, they had a very dry summer 
A tree struggling to keep itself alive at Overlook Park, overlooking Dow Chemical plant.
I was singing the Queen song "Keep Yourself Alive" while taking this picture.
The start of the Pere Marquette trail
Another pic of Dow

Day 1 Bath, Mi to Frankenmuth 68 miles

Day 1 . 67.7 miles
My bro Mike and I drove from his house in East Lansing to Bath. Mi next to Round Lake, I started out 8:07am temperature was in the mid 60's.
Took a break in Hendersonville at 10:30am and now its 80 degrees.
At 12:30am Android rebooted itself, no GPS  or maps, then 30 seconds later broken spoke on rear wheel freewheel side, I.had freewheel removal tool, replaced spoke got back on the road around 1:15pm.

I arrived at Frankenmuth 3:10pm high temp 91 degree and humidity was not too bad. Checked in to the Jellystone Campground and paid a hefty $40 holiday rate for a site with electricity, but had to fetch my own water which was a 75ft walk to the spigot. I rested for 45 minutes, setup camp took a shower then headed out for some beer and food... . stopped by the Bavarian Inn and had some German food and had 4 German Beers. Then biked back to the campground to hit the hot tube where I soaked my sore muscles and relaxed for about 30 minutes. Looked over my bike, checked spokes and hit the bed (ground) it's about a 3/4 of an inch piece foam(RidgeRest) for my bed.  Here is my route for the day, it is in Google maps and is segmented into about 10 parts. http://goo.gl/maps/RoQM 

Averaged 12.4 Mph
Roadkill: Over 30 Raccoons,.does Mi have a Raccoon problem?
2 deer and a few assorted animals found on road dead
No dog chasing events. This is very rare that I can ride over 60 miles and no dogs chasing me which is a real nice thing to happen especially when loaded down with 35 lbs of gear ...
99.5% of all drivers gave me ample room when passing me, kudos to Michigan drivers.

Bavarian Inn
Covered Bridge
Refreshing glass of Dark Beer Uhmmmm

First rest stop Hendersonville
Covered Bridge Profile
Wiener Schnitzel

Pre-Touring rides

Most of my rides have been on the bicycle trainer 1-2 hours a night and on the weekends some short rides. June 22 was one of those short rides, I broke a spoke on rear wheel on the Freewheel side. The good thing was that I was close to a bar and had a few beers before calling my wife to pick me up. Hopefully that will not happen again on the Freewheel side on my tour or any other spokes.

Touring Gear List

  • Fuji Touring 27 speed bike
  • Cannondale Panniers purchased in 1979
  • Front handle bar bag
  • Backpack stove
  • 5 piece standard Mess-kit
  • Tent two-man
  • RidgeRest sleeping pad
  • Clothes 2 bike shorts, 2 bike shirts, long pants, long sleeve shirt. pair of shorts, Vibram 5 fingers or water shoes, socks, hand towel,  washcloth
  • First aid kit, Bicycle maintenance kit
  • Motorola Droid 3 (GPS off-line maps and routing, music and movie
    player, camera and video recorder, blogger, oh yea it also can be used as a phone)
  • HTC Eris Andriod Smartphone backup device, if anything should happen to the Droid 3..
  • LG Bluetooth stereo speakers attached to the bike.
  • 3 - 2 watt solar panels to USB interface for charging
  • 9600Mah battery backup device
  • 3 extra batteries for Mot Droid 3 and 2 for the HTC Eris phone
  • Extra USB Cables and Charger
  • 2 small USB rechargeable Flashlights
  • Bluetooth expandable keyboard
  • LeatherMan multi-tool
  • 45 degree sleeping back
  • Blackburn Rear Tail light USB rechargable
  • Front light 750 Lumen USB rechargable
  • Lots of ziplocks bags all sizes and shapes
  • Fishing Pole(telescopic collapsable), lures ETC
  • Duct Tape

Introduction - 2012 Bike Tour

I will be visiting Michigan starting June 24 along with my two daughters so they can visit my Mom for a few days and then drive them out to Pennsylvania to meet my Sister-in law. Where she will take them to New Jersey for 2-3 three weeks. I will drive back to Michigan and attend my 30 year High School Reunion on June 30th, the next morning July 1st start my Bike Tour.
This will be a 8 day tour which is a loop around Mid-Michigan utilizing mostly rail-trails totaling 420 miles. Starting point is at Round Lake in Bath, MI and ending in East Lansing.  Here is the Google maps route http://g.co/maps/fbxq8 . I will be camping and also visiting my brother's bungalow along the way. The average daily mileage is 55-65 miles a day. I will be starting out July 1 and completing by July 9.