Minimal Drivel

So, in the interest of getting caught up, I’m going to try to keep this one short. I know, I know … I’ve said that before and then proceeded to write copious amounts of what many would consider to be drivel. I will attempt to keep the drivel to a minimum.

Mike, Kelly, and Fergus (the dog)

After much deliberation, I finally decided that my journey would continue south into Ohio – and not across Michigan to the Wisconsin-bound ferry. The reasons aren’t all that important and might fall into the drivel category which I’m trying to keep to a minimum (yes, I realize that last sentence was mostly drivel … and this one is completely drivel. I gotta be me.)

With my direction of travel determined, I loaded up my bike and prepared to head south towards Ohio … but not before breakfast and more great chats with Mike and Kelly. There was also a short review of some of Mike’s photos from trips gone by. I could’ve easily stayed longer as the photos and stories were great. However, the road was calling … even if I still hadn’t determined a specific destination. I figured the direction was the main thing.

Yesterday’s trust in Google was replaced today with a return to an utter lack of trust in Google. Unless I was trusting Google to find gravel roads, in which case it excelled. As such, my day was a continuous struggle as to whether to follow my Garmin or Google. In the end, it was a bit of both.

Welcome to …

The most significant part of the day came when, a few hours into my ride, I received a Warm Showers response from Bob in Perrysburg, OH. In keeping with the staggering generosity of Warm Showers hosts, Bob and his wife offered a place to stay even though they wouldn’t be home when I arrived. And in their absence, they even left a plate of chocolate chip cookies. It’s like they knew me! I’d have included a picture of said chocolate chip cookies, but now it’s just an empty plate which doesn’t quite have the same effect. Yeah, I know … that’s probably drivel.

I ended up meeting my hosts shortly after I arrived at which point beer, conversation, dinner, more conversation, and local strawberries and ice cream filled the remainder of the afternoon and evening. As is frequently the case, we were able to solve most of the world’s problems during our conversations. And, as is also frequently the case, no one else was listening.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 97.67 km
Ride time: 4:23:12
Average speed: 22.26 km/h
Maximum speed: 40.17 km/h

Which Way To Go?

Roseville, MI to Ann Arbor, MI

Trail to Ann Arbor

It certainly didn’t take long for me to fall behind schedule … well, blog schedule anyway. My riding “schedule” remains as vague and open-ended as ever.

My morning began with the discovery that the rain that had thoroughly soaked me the previous day had since moved on, leaving a sunny day in its wake. For that I was truly grateful. I was also truly grateful to wake to a Warm Showers response confirming that I would have a place to stay this evening – assuming I made it to Ann Arbor. Spoiler Alert: I did.

Ann Arbor was a little under 100 km away so I was reasonably confident I could handle that – especially considering the previous day was almost 130 km in the rain. The biggest challenge on this day was routing since the city sprawl of Detroit was the main obstacle between my trusted Red Roof Inn and Ann Arbor.

The more I pedal in big cities the more I dislike pedalling in big cities. There are lights. There’s traffic. And frequently there are a lot of turns to navigate which typically leaves me with no real bearing as to where I am. Putting my trust in Google is not something I particularly relish. But, on this day, that’s what I did.

Surprisingly, my cautious trust in Google (and the Google lady that was telling me when and where to turn) was rewarded with a mostly efficient route through and around Detroit. That said, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant ride as there were a lot of red lights, potholes, and other distractions … all of which tend to take the fun out of a ride. However, sometimes days like this are necessary. My goal, of course, is to keep them to a minimize as much as possible.

One of the day’s “other distractions”

Included with today’s “other distractions” was traffic. And today’s traffic featured two more conversations with drivers along the way but, unlike yesterday, these conversations were a positive experience. The first one had a woman honk at me while at a red light. When I looked over, she was waving the rain cover from my handlebar bag at me. Somewhere along the way it had fallen out of its pocket and somehow I didn’t notice. Obviously, she did notice – and stopped to pick it up and then delivered it to me. I was both surprised and very appreciative of her efforts. I really don’t know if I was more surprised or more appreciative. Either way, I thanked her and she continued on her way.

The second driver caught my attention by slowing down beside me. When I looked over (still pedalling), he asked, “Are those weights?” I said, “Well, they’re heavy but its all my gear. I’m heading to the Grand Canyon.” He laughed in response before saying, “D@mn! You’ve got a LONG way to go!!” All I could do was laugh and agree. He wished me well and also continued on his way.

Going around this was a LOT muddier than I anticipated.

The rest of the ride went pretty smoothly. There were a few delays and mini-detours along the way but nothing particularly significant and before I knew it I was pedalling along a nice trail in Ann Arbor. Mission: Accomplished.

I arrived at my hosts (Mike and Kelly) in time for a pre-dinner beer. And whiskey. As luck would have it, I had arrived on a day that was both their anniversary (33 years, if I remember correctly) and their daughter had stopped by for a short visit – the result was joining them for a ridiculously great lamb dinner. Actually, feast would probably be more accurate. Either way, it was delicious.

Post-dinner, Mike led me on a cycle tour of the area including a stop at the Ann Arbor Music Festival which runs daily for a month. It was fun and impressive to see both the number of people in attendance and the fact that the festival is supported for so many days.

Ann Arbor Music Festival
The photo really doesn’t do it justice

Returning to the house, I had the choice of either writing a blog update or figuring out what my plan would be for the coming days. Obviously, I opted for the latter. The big dilemma was whether to take a ferry from Michigan to Wisconsin (the ferry is about a 3-day ride from Ann Arbor) or to head south into Ohio. It was a decision I greatly struggled with … but I’ll leave that decision until the next update.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 98.66 km
Ride time: 4:39:49
Average speed: 21.15 km/h
Maximum speed: 38.31 km/h

End of Rehearsals

Camlachie, ON to Roseville, MI

Nice views from Ned and Cary’s place.

If the past two days were a rehearsal of sorts to start to get me back in shape and ready for the long road ahead, then today officially ended the rehearsals. The two sub-100 km rides to start this journey now seem like ancient history. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

My morning began with a not-entirely gentle wind coming off Lake Huron. It also began with a few drops of rain. And that was before a full feast of a breakfast prepared by Ned. I was not going to be malnourished to start my ride on this day.

My goal of hitting the road by 10:00 AM didn’t quite happen because, well … breakfast with Ned and Cary turned into a wide range of enjoyable conversations (and the making of a couple peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the road) and so, the delay took care of itself. By 10:30 AM though, I knew I really needed to hit the road … and by 10:40 AM, I did so.

For much of the previous evening I was trying to determine what my plan would be. In the end, I let the weather dictate my route. Essentially my options were to continue west and go across Michigan or head south and cross into the US near Detroit. With a strong north wind in the forecast, I opted to take advantage of that wind and officially targeted Detroit (just north of Detroit, actually) as my destination. A destination that was about 130 km from my starting point. Clearly, the most ambitious day so far.

Gratuitous freighter photo.

The first 45 minutes went incredibly well. The tailwind was everything it was forecasted to be and I was leisurely cruising along at about 30 km/h. Not bad considering this was only Day Three. Somewhere around the 46 minute mark (yes, that’s an estimate) the rain started. But just a drizzle. But I suspected there would be more to come. Spoiler Alert: There was.

As I made my way towards the St. Clair river, the rain’s intensity picked up. Never a downpour. But certainly more than a drizzle. And that more-than-a-drizzle stayed with me for much of my way along the river. Despite the rain, it was still a pleasant ride. There was a good bike path for most of it and the wind continued to help my progress. Excuse Alert: It’s pretty much common knowledge that I struggle with hydration … well, those struggles are certainly not aided by riding in the rain. I mean, when every inch of you is soaked the last thing one tends to think about is having a drink of water. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, on days like this I prefer to hydrate through osmosis.

I finally made my first stop about 68 km into my ride. Probably further along than ideal, but it only took a little over 2.5 hours to cover that distance. Thank you tailwind! The main reason I waited so long was that I was hoping to find some source of shelter. Did I mention it was raining? I passed a small park with a gazebo at one point but for some reason that wasn’t good enough and I continued on. Had I known it would be another 18 km before another shelter appeared I would’ve stopped. Oops.

This isn’t the ferry terminal you’re looking for.

My lunch stop was pretty short but under a big pavilion with a plethora of picnic tables. Plus there was a nice view of the St. Clair river and the occasional freighter that was travelling along said river. In addition, there was Eric and Amy (see the Guestbook). As I was about to pedal back into rain (which had actually eased back to a drizzle), I met the aforementioned Eric and Amy who were also seeking shelter from the rain (and freighter watching). We chatted for a bit about my journeys, their journeys, freighters, the high water levels of the river, and other such things. It was a great chat. But of course, I needed to continue on my way. I was still 15 km from the Walpole Island ferry that would take me to the US (Algonac, MI to be exact). Did I mention I was taking a ferry to the US?

Well, my passage into the US was to be by ferry. According to Google, the ferry of choice was from Sombra, ON to Marine City, MI. Apparently no one has informed Google that the ferry has been out of commission for a couple of years. Fortunately, Ned and Cary informed me of that vital information so I wasn’t surprised when I passed the closed ferry terminal. The alternate ferry was a bit less than ideal as it added a couple of extra detours – on both sides of the crossing. But that was my future held.

My main concern (detours notwithstanding) with the Walpole Island-Algonac ferry was that there didn’t seem to be a clear schedule as to its departure times. I aimed to get there as soon as possible and hope the best.

Goodbye, Canada.

I’d like to say that the rain during those 15 km to Walpole Island dissipated and the sun came out. In fact, I’d REALLY like to say that. But that wasn’t the case. At all. In fact, in rained harder – not that it really mattered though since I was long since soaked through. On the upside, my timing of arriving at the ferry couldn’t have been much better as I arrived just before they were loading the final car. Moments later I was also onboard. Eight minutes and $2 later I was going through U.S. Customs. An experience that was very pleasant and effortless.

After being welcomed to the United States, I had a 50 km ride remaining. Part of that ride was heading back north as I needed to pedal around Anchor Bay. The tailwind that had pushed me along for much of my ride to the ferry was now very much working against me. However, given that the northerly portion of my ride was minimal, I just focused on the task at hand (or foot) and pedalled.

Once I worked my way around Anchor Bay, the ride again headed south (okay, there was also a bit of west). While the tailwind was still there for the southerly portions, there was also traffic. A lot of traffic. A few cars were enthusiastic enough about my presence on the road that they felt the need to shout out to me. Yes, that was sarcasm. And no, they were not shouts of encouragement. However, given the number of cars that passed me on the day, I really couldn’t worry about those three drivers. I’m sure they shout at a lot of people (and not just on bikes).

Is this the happiest I’ve ever been to be at a Red Roof Inn?
It might be … of course, it’s not like I’ve stayed at many.

I arrived at my destination of The Red Roof Inn shortly before 6:00 PM which made me pretty happy. I figured arriving any time before 6:00 PM would be a victory. Yes, I was wet. Soaked even. But I had made it through another day. Did I mention I was soaked? My clothes clung to me like cling wrap … yes, I know … not a pretty picture. Make no mistake, cycle touring ain’t always pretty! My fingers were so shrivelled that my phone wouldn’t even recognize my fingerprints.

Yup, all things considered, it was another good day.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 128.93 km
Ride time: 5:19:33
Average speed: 24.20 km/h
Maximum speed: 36.45 km/h

© 2019: Mark's Midlife Crisis