November 2010 Archives

The Big 2010 Tour: Day 2

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Day 2: Nestoria almost all the way to Seney: 120 miles

I awoke well rested and still rather full of fish and Old Milwaukee from the night before, so hit the road and belted out a quick 30 miles before stopping for breakfast in Champion at "François' Cafe" where I was immediately greeted by a wide open door. In fact, it wasn't so much wide open as falling of the hinges.  This did give me an opportunity to learn the local pronunciation of "François" when a waitress told another "Hey, give Frankie a call and let him know the door fell off the restaurant".

"Super Dave" was already on the case and fully removing the faulty door from the closing mechanism and setting it aside. Dave is one of those people that you really only get an opportunity to meet when you're riding a bicycle. His Trek was parked next to the restaurant as well and he's the type of person you can only refer to as "a character".  He asked about my trip and told several stories of his own about some serious long distance tours and his racing exploits.  Very cool guy, I see his Trek parked in front of Frankie's from time to time and should check in. 

Besides, and I'll just go ahead and ruin the build up of one of the central themes of this trip when I say that Frankie's has some of the best blueberry pancakes ever.  They managed to walk the fine line between a slightly crispy without being greasy outside with a light and fluffy inside. Well done and perfectly executed.  Even if I wasn't carrying my usual reserve of pure maple syrup.

I used several chunks of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail to navigate the Ishpeming/Negaunee/Marquette area. Cool trail through some really interesting old town and mining ruins. And certainly beat trying to navigate the highways in this area.

I picked up M-94 south of Marquette and came across another sight that you really only notice when on a bike. I've probably driven by the sign 50 times and never given it a second thought. Turns out to be an interesting historical anecdote.

In Chatham, I stumbled across the annual Chatham Country Fair which was going full tilt when I arrived. I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to fill up on healthful foodstuffs such as Funnel Cakes, Elephant Ears, and Walking Tacos. I spent a while hanging out by the tractor pull, but honestly- this old Farmall had everybody pretty much beat on the slick turf from last night's rain. 

Lots of other cool stuff to check out too:

I pressed on with the intention of camping or maybe grabbing a hotel room in Munising, but just outside of Munising something odd was happening. 

See, usually when you cyclotour in rural areas people just think you're weird and sometimes go so far as to question your upbringing, employment status, and even sexual orientation while using colorful metaphors yelled from swiftly moving pickups. Outside of Munising though, people were giving me a wide berth on the road, and even waving at me.  The familiar buzz of oversize BFG Mud Terrains preceding the cloud of diesel exhaust was conspicuously absent.

It was seriously weirding me out. 

Once I got to Munising, I found the town was booked- 100%. Not even a tent space at the overpriced KOA nor a manger was to be had.  It was then that I figured things out when I started noticing all the "26.2" stickers.  I was amongst my peoples: retarded endurance sports junkies.  Marathoners, in this instance. 

With no options for stopping in Munising, I pushed on towards the Seney Stretch. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a long, straight, flat section of M-28.  25 miles. Perfectly flat. And perfectly straight.  

Traffic was light, so I amused myself with my camera. 

Just shy of the rest area, I found a large, open field and set up camp for the night. With setting sun and wildflowers in bloom, it made for one of my best camping nights on a bike tour yet.

The Big 2010 Tour: Day 1

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Whoa, wasn't this, like, months ago dude? 

Well, yeah.  But things got crazy busy for me right when I got back.  I didn't even have a chance to get the pictures off my camera until this morning. And honestly, this wasn't as much fun as all my other tours. Still some good stories worth sharing though. 

The plan was, ride across the UP in about 2.5 days, cross the Mackinac bridge, and then take however many days to get to my parent's house in Scottville, party for a few days, then catch the ferry over to Manitowoc and ride last year's tour route back to home.  I made one big change in my usual touring plans that I sort of regret- I carried no cooking implements our food besides basic snacks intending to catch most of my major meals at restaurants.  This changed the dynamic of the tour more than you might think, but more on that later.

Day 1: Home to Nestoria: 45 miles.

It certainly wasn't my most productive day at work, but I was out and on the road by 5pm. Being rather familiar with the next 250 miles from countless drives downstate, I had a good handle on roadside camping locations and intended to just belt out as many miles as I could. 

The weather had other ideas. After making the turn east just south of L'Anse, I could see an approaching storm front. I could literally look over my shoulder and see the rain catching up behind me.  As luck would have it, It just about overtook me in Nestoria which is known for pretty much two things: being the southern end of the Herman-Nestoria Rd. and home to the "Cozy Inn" and it's famous all-you-can-eat-lake-trout-for-$10 fish fry. 

I ran in and put on my best sad and pathetic looking cyclotourist face and they agreed to let me camp in their backyard. I got my tent pitched just in time and they even let me chuck my bike in an old trailer for the night.  With camp established, I proceeded to do my best on the all-you-can-eat part of the fish fry deal whilst trying to convince my fellow patrons that I was not crazy for attempting this ride. 

BDB Training Guide

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Hi kids.  It's that rough time of the year- daylight is running short and the weather is turning colder, but it's still not quite ski season yet.  That doesn't mean we can't stay in top, competitive form though.  Perhaps these helpful videos will help see you through the holidays. 

Snow can wait...

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...if we keep getting days like yesterday.  

It's been way too long since I've just been able to get out and ride all day. Racing is really wearing thin as of late.  You have to be there at THIS time and ride THIS route and eat THIS food.  It's nice to just take off for a day with a loose set of plans and see where you end up.  

So I headed out on Sunday afternoon with a half baked plan to ride the old LSPR Huron Mountain stages while hunting for ski hills and birds.  Due to decreasing daylight and some last minute mechanical work on a bike that's seen way too much use this year, I just drove down and parked in L'Anse to start my loop.   

The weather proved to be what weathermen like to call "unseasonably warm". In fact, I think these poor dragonflies may have been duped into an early mating season.  

As soon as I turned off the paved road, I pretty much had the road to myself.  Dry weather has given us some great road conditions.

The Roland Lake Stage follows the same route as the road to the top of Mt. Arvon, the highest point in MI. Since I was so close, I figured "Why not?".

Passed a neat little waterfall on the way up.  

Ice was still lurking in the shadows up in the higher elevations.


I spent some time up there scouting around for ski hills.  Some OK potential drops of ~250ft, but recent logging in the area doesn't leave a whole lot of room for different lines.  The good news is there's a ton of mediocre runs like this, the bad news is you pretty much need a snowmobile to get in here in the winter.  

Earlier that morning I had rushed to try and get the stages in my GPS.  Obviously, I screwed up someplace as the road I was looking for was simply non-existant. I spent some time cruising a couple of nearby roads but wasn't finding what I needed and the shadows were getting longer.  5:30pm sunsets sneak up on you quick.  

As I was without lights, I decided to call it a day and book it back to L'Anse. Which proved to be great fun. It's almost a completely uninterrupted drop from 1979 feet down to about 600 on the shores of Huron Bay.  Yeehaaaa!  

Made it back to town with about 20 minutes to spare before the sun set.  

Dude! Where ya been?!

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Holy crap. It's November already. 

Wasn't it like, August just yesterday?

Well, anyway- Cyclocross has been a little depressing this year. I made the jump to A class, but I'm just getting the royal, double footed, no handed ass kicking treatment. Which is exactly what I hoped for, but it's spread all us former B class guys out all over the field and the actual racing hasn't been as much fun.   I tried going back to B for one race but after getting dangerously close to landing on the podium, it felt a little too much like sandbagging.  In theory, it's probably where I belong as I had a great fight with 4-5 guys and didn't give an inch. But then again, my current predicament in A is exactly where I was in B a few years ago.  No reason to sit still in B when I can try and get a little better in A.  But damn, I do miss those epic battles... 

The gravel road racing season also ended on a somewhat mediocre note.  I felt we had a good showing at the Gentlemen's Ride and the event went great despite the epic flooding in the area that weekend.  However, the next weekend at Heck of the North just didn't go so well for me.  I just had one of those bad days on the bike.   The speed wasn't there most of the time and when it did come, I was often out by myself or making a wrong turn or whatever.  Thankfully, it proved to be an good weekend in Duluth in all other regards. The course is great, the fall colors were awesome, and my fellow competitors proved to be the usual excellent crop of folks that enter these things. 

Somewhere in there were a few mountain bike races, a couple epic tours, and the usual commuting, training, and trail rides.  Some good stories, but unfortunately- a lot of the same. I'm really looking forward to next year. As usual, I've got all kinds of crazy ideas on what I want to do. 

But in the meantime, SNOW DAMMIT. 

Last winter kind of sucked and ended early. I have never been more ready for winter to kick in. This year, I may just say to hell with racing and ski for fun.  The Noquemanon is cool event but I have just terrible luck surrounding it. Cold weather, flat tires, getting sick. Not to mention it's got a huge (and non-refundable or transferable!) entry fee.  I may come around in March for the Bear Chase, but I'll be savoring all my weekends out in the backcountry for the foreseeable future.