Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fall 2017

OK.  It's been awhile since I've posted.  I never took that trip around Lake Erie.  Tragedy at my work intervened and I couldn't take the time for the trip.  I'm still riding my bike to work but that will change soon too.  I will be retiring from the rat race 40+hour grind.  Dreams of a Trans-America bike trip drift in and out of my consciousness.  They're trying to put a banquet hall, complete with alcohol, at the Dunes State Park!  Donald Trump is president (Really!).  Oh, and the price of gas is $2.65 a gallon.  More on all of this and more. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cycling the Fourth Season

I've been commuting year round for several years now.  However the winter always challenges me.  It's not the snow as much as the cold.  I've never quite gotten the knack of keeping hands and feet warm.  This guy at Ice Cyclist seems to have some good tips.  I will definitely be upgrading my  footwear this year!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

LMCT-What I carried

Fully loaded after our first night on the road!
One of the challenges with bike tours is similar to that of backpacking-How much stuff do I take?  As I considered what to take and what to leave behind I was influenced by this guy.  In some cases, for example leaving the main tent with mosquito netting at home, I may have over done it although we really only had two nights where mosquitoes were a problem (plus another night where they certainly would have been a problem had we camped).  In other cases, leaving multiple sets of clothing at home and washing the one set of bicycling clothes each night for example, I'm sure I saved weight.  This was weight I didn't have to lug around for two weeks.   Here's what you see (right to left):
  1. On the handlebars-homemade sleeping quilt; fleece liner; and bivy sack good to break the wind and keep things cleaner.  These items are packed in an eVent compression sack from Sea to Summit.  This dry bag performed flawlessly.
  2. Top tube wedge pack from Topeak..  I kept lip balm, sunscreen, reading glasses,  hand cleaner, and a Leatherman Micro in it.  It wasn't quite large enough to get my I-phone in there.  I kept the phone in one of the back pockets of my cycling jersey in a LokSac.
  3. Only one water bottle
  4. On top of the rear rack (in the red bag).  Big Agnes 3-person tent, footprint and rain fly only, plus stakes and line.  Steve is carrying the poles.
  5. Pannier #1 (panniers are Ortleib Back Roller Plus)-Cooking stuff (one 1.5L titanium pot with lid; homemade pot cozy; MSR Pocket Rocket with fuel canister; spoon; cup; pot scrubber; lighter); Food (usually no more than two days worth); flip flops (my only other shoes); Raincoat; bike tool kit; First aid; and extra tire tube.
  6. Pannier #2-Clothes (1-pr. underwear brief; 1-pr. long underwear for sleep; nylon pants; fleece vest; long sleeve synthetic shirt also for sleep; 1-pair cycling socks; fleece gloves; 2-stocking caps-one for sleep and one for cooler weather); Big Agnes Air Core Mattress-mummy style; Nylon stuff sack with toiletries; head lamp; bug spray; chamois butter (don't' ask!); PackTowel;  and charging cord for phone.
  7. On body-Helmet; short sleeve nylon shirt; Buck's Bicycle Shop jersey; arm warmers; Headsweats skullcap; Pearl Izumi cycling shorts; wool/synthetic blend socks;  Shimano mountain bike shoes with SPD cleats.  In my jersey pockets-Pearl Izumi lightweight shell( my most valuable article of clothing!); cell phone; money; credit card; and health insurance cards in the Loksac.  Sunglasses.  Ironman spenco cycling gloves.  
  8. Blinkie!
That's about it.  This was good for the range of temperatures and conditions we encountered during our trip.  I was prepared to add my sleep attire to my riding dress if it was colder than about 45-50 degrees during the day.  I used every piece of clothing except my gloves and could have put them on during a cold rain on the road to Green Bay.  All of our cooking was basically boil water; add ingredients; let sit in the pot cozy cooking.  Our meals were fairly bland but calorie rich.

A couple of things I didn't have that I'd take next time: A be-seen headlight; and a better rain coat (mine is a Bellweather rain coat I got on sale at REI, it didn't stand up to the constant rains we experienced although it was windproof so it provided warmth); a big baggie to use to do laundry; and a can opener!

From: Stephen Arndt
How about a P38 can opener? Light weight, but need to test before taking on trip.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Lake Michigan Circle Tour Resources

  • Steve got some detailed maps from Adventure Cycling Association for route 35 in Michigan.  We decided that in some cases it made more sense to simply ride a more direct route than the one indicated on the maps.  Nevertheless, they were valuable.
  •  Steve relied on  a couple of blogs to help him create an possible itinerary; this guy,  and a woman who walked it! 
  • There's also another circle tour journal at the crazyguyonabike site.
  • Wisconsin has several bike maps available Here .  We didn't have these maps but they undoubtedly would have helped.
  • Illinois has maps Here.  We accessed these maps while at a motel and used the motel's business center to print them out.
  • I downloaded a map application, PDF Maps Mobile App, to my Iphone that could display the Wisconsin maps but we really never used it. 
  • Steve used his tablet computer+Google Map+his GPS functionality to help us out several times.  I also used Google Maps+GPS functionality on my phone to figure out where we were.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Steve's Lake Michigan Circle Tour Notes

24-May-2014 Sat
7:30 AM, walked to local coffee shop. Nervous about bicycle trip.
9:15 AM - 6 PM, sunny, nice and cool, NE breeze
Rode bicycle 74 miles. 6 hours 6 minutes, avg 12 miles/hour
Rode from Tom's house to Van Buren state park south of South Haven, MI.
Stopped  at swedish bakery in Harbert
Staying at campsite 169. A bag night.
28.2 m (45 KM) jogging and walking this week

25-May-2014 Sun
Woke up at 6:30 AM EDT. Nice sunny morning. Made VIA coffee and oatmeal.
Trying to dry wash from last evening.
8:45 AM - 5 PM, sunny nice weather
Rode 70 miles on bicycle. Rode from Van Buren state park to Hoffmaster state park in Norton Shores, MI.
Lots of holiday traffic in South Have, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven.
Found a starbucks in grocery store in Holland.
Note to self, buy fruit next time in grocery store.
Got last camp site #3 at Hoffmaster. A bag night, a car free day.

26-May-2014 Mon
Woke and drank campground host coffee. Left 7:15 AM.
Rode 94 miles on bicycle. Rode to Luddington state park. Camping at primitive site 209. $16/night. Got lost for awhile near pentwater.
Stopped at Monteque for coffee, scone, banana and 2 apples. Still need to work on the food. It is chilly near the lake this evening.
Eating dinner at 8:15 PM. A bag night, a car free day.

27-May-2014 Tue
Woke at 6 AM, foggy
Made coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. Rode to Manistee and stopped for lunch at Goody's. Felt good to relax and get some cooked food.
Saw a wild turkey. Rode to sleeping bear platte river campground.  A bag night, a car free day. Got camp site 112. Kept food in a bear container. At hasty dinner inside bathroom. Lots of mosquitoes. They have hot showers, need to buy tokens. Used national parks senior pass.
Rode 78 miles on bicycle. Saw 2 deer. Bought apple and bannana from nice store at hamlin lake grocery.

28-May-2014 Wed
Day 5 of bicycle ride around lake michigan.
Woke at 6:30 AM CDT, sunny, still mosquitoes.
Made oatmeal and VIA coffee for breakfast. Rode to Glen Arbor to Leelanau coffee. Life is good if you take the time to relax.
Maps of USBR 35 are nice. Giving us a nice route. Saw large and small Manitou islands.
Rode through sutton's bay, nice town. Rode on nice 17 mile long Tart trail from Sutton's Bay to Traverse city.
Rode 73 miles on bicycle. Staying at Traverse city state park. Camp site 323. Nice hot  showers.
Cooked rice and can of red beans. Raw veggies.
A bag night, a car free day.

29-May-2014 Thu
Day 6 of bicycle ride around lake michigan.
Woke at 6:30 AM, sunny, cool morning
Made via coffee, banana nut pita sandwwitch for breakfast.
Stopped at Elk Rapids library, got water and Wi-Fi. Sat outside on picnic table over looking the lake. A magical moment.
Stopped at Charlevoix for afternoon coffee and Wi-Fi. The people in town were planting patunyas along the main street.
Nice sun shinny day.
Rode 73 miles on bicycle. Staying at Petosky state park. Camp site 41.
Cooked rice with tuna for dinner. Hot tea.
A bag night, a car free day.

30-May-2014 Fri
Day 7 of bicycle ride around lake michigan.
Woke at 7 AM EDT, cloudy
Made VIA coffee, almound butter and gorp on pita.
Laundry is still wet from last night.
Rode 71 miles on bicycle.
Stopped at Harbor Springs for breakfast. Sat outside, nice.
Rode to Mackinaw City. Met Mat touring on a bicycle. The bridge authority transported out 3 bicycles over the bridge. Charged $5 per bicycle. Rode to store west of St Ignas. Ate warmed vegetable Pasty. Lots of migs flying last part of ride. Mosiquoties also when we stopped. Rode to Brevort, staying at Brevort Inn, $45 per night. Bought smoked salmon,  ate with our pitas. Had fudge and pita for desert.

31-May-2014 Sat
Day 8 of bicycle trip around lake michigan.
Woke at 6:30 AM EDT, sunny
Ate almound butter, gorp on pita. Coffee  from motel office.
8:44 AM, stopped in Naubinway, MI for second breakfast.
Rode 116 miles on bicycle.
Stopped in Manistique at a marina. Nice restrooms, water. Boiled water for via coffee. Pita, almond butter and trail mix.
Rode to Gladstone, MI. Camping at Gladstone campground. At site ??. They have Wi-Fi and hot showers.
The salmon we bought, said to keep refregerated. So back to same dinner as lunch, plus mashed potatoes and ramin noodles.
A long day.

01-Jun-2014 Sun
Day 9 of bicycle trip around lake michigan.
Woke at 7 AM EDT, windy and cloudy
Made via coffee. Packed up and rode from Gladstone, MI campground to Escanaba, MI. 
Rode through a downpour. Stopped at Swedish pantry for breakfast. Good idea.
Stopped  at laundramat to dry clothes.
Rode 70 miles on bicycle today.
Rode to Marinette, WI, staying at Country Inn. Rained most of the day.
Tom's bicycle bottom bracket broke. Need to stay and find a bicycle store to get it fixed.

02-Jun-2014 Mon
Day 10 of bicycle trip around lake michigan
Woke at 6:30 AM CDT, light rain 
Breakfast at Country Inn, room 112
Tom got his bicycle fixed at Marinette bicycle shop.
1:20 PM, stopped at oconto marina for a shore lunch. Out of the wind and rain
6:30 PM, cloudy, SW wind
Rode 66 miles on bicycle today.
A bag night, a car free day.
Rode from Marinette to Green Bay, WI. 
Camping at Brown  county fairgrounds.
Cooked rice, salmon. Hot tea and hersheys chocolate bar and trail mix for desert.
It is dark while I type this entry.
Good night.

03-Jun-2014 Tue
Day 11 of bicycle trip around lake michigan
Woke at 7 AM, NW wind
Rode to starbucks in DePere for breakfast. Lots of traffic and gusty wind riding over fox river.
2 PM, at starbucks in Manitowoc. Juice
7:30 PM, Kohler-Andrae state park.
Camping at site  #19, cooler near the lake
Rode 79 miles on bicycle today.
A bag night, a car free day.

04-Jun-2014 Wed
Day 12 of bicycle trip around lake michigan
Woke at 7 AM, cloudy, light rain
Made breaakfast, coffee and oat meal.
Animals ate food out of my bicycle top tube bag.
Rode to Port Washington for lunch and to warm up inside.
12 noon, 53 Deg F and light rain.
Rode 72 miles on bicycle today.
Nice bicycle trails through Milwaukee.
Checked into Hilton Garden Inn near Milwaukee airport.
Ran out of day light.

05-Jun-2014 Thu
Day 13 of bicycle trip around lake michigan
Woke at 7 AM, sunny, 54 Deg F
Ate continental breakfast at motel.
1:30 PM, stopped in Kenosha for a break. Nice view of harbor.
Nice bicycle trail south of Kenosha to Illinois state line.
Camped at Illinois beach state park camp site 301, cooler near the lake.
Lots of mosquitoes.
Rode 48 miles on bicycle today.
Made mash potatoes, ramin noodles and tuna for dinner.
A bag night, a car free day.

06-Jun-2014 Fri
Day 14 of bicycle trip around lake michigan
Woke at 6 AM, sunny, clear
Lots of mosquitoes.
Made breaakfast, coffee and oat meal.
Stopped in Wilmette, IL at starbucks for a rest. 
Rode 104 miles on bicycle today.
Finished about 7:20 PM, long nice day.

Lake MIchigan Circle Tour by Bike-May 24 to June 6, 2014

*NOTE:  I'm going to add and expand to this narrative that I have so far cut from Facebook posts and pasted here.  

Day #1-73 miles. Chesterton, IN to Van Buren State Park..  Stopped in at the Swedish Bakery in Harbert, MI.  This has been a turn around point for some day trips. I (Tom) called the park ahead of time about camping due to this being the first day of the Memorial Day weekend.  The guy on the phone informed me that, although the campground would undoubtedly be full, there would be a place for us because we were biking.  When we got to the main gate, it was a different story.  The guy there said they were full,  When he called someone at the campground office, we got the same answer.  No camping spots available.  Not wanting to consider having to improvise on our first day, I asked to talk directly to the guy at the campground. We showed up at the camp office and the guy there was a kid who admitted he'd been on the job for a week!  However he agreed to talk to a ranger.  The ranger said that there were two camp spots open, and that it was routine for Michigan state parks to reserve two spots for bikers.  Relief!

Day #2-70 miles. Van Buren State Park to P. J. Hoffmaster State Park Tough going getting through Holland and Grand Haven! Steve found us Starbucks in  a Holland grocery store however!  Given what we'd been told at Van Buren State Park we showed up at the state park assuming that a biking camp spot would be available.  However nobody at this park had ever heard of such a rule.  Luckily they had one spot left!  We thought the people in the office just behind us were looking for a camp site as well.  For what it's worth I couldn't find anything in writing stating that there was any rule about holding sites for bike tourers, however I did read an article that suggested it's an unofficial policy in several states, including Michigan.  Be forewarned!
The last spot! 
Day #3-94 miles! First day with rain.  We rode on what Steve says is Michigan's oldest rails to trails trail, the Hart-Montigue Trail.  I got us lost around Pentwater! We probably added about 12 miles to the day.  Camped at Ludington State Park which is actually several miles north of Ludington at the end of a dead end road.   With the cold fog rolling in off the lake as we rode to the park, it was a surreal moment.  It's cooler by the lake!
We found the first of many wonderful coffee houses in Whitehall, The Book Nook and Java Shop.
Day #4-78.8 Miles. Ludington to Platte River Campground, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Coffee shop in Manistee, MI Goody's Juice and Java gets four stars. Weather conditions were highly influenced by variable breeze off the lake. Temperatures varied from 50's to 70's over distance of a quarter mile! Mosquitoes were out in force at the campground.  Steve and I broke out the head netting.  Nite nite!
Day #5-Possibly the coldest moment of the entire trip was while we were stopped at  Leelanau Coffee Roasting in Glen Arbor.   It was sunny but the wind was off the lake.  Steve and I had stopped here before during a snowshoeing trip to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
Day #5-Sleeping Bear to Traverse City State Park via Leland. We cut off a bit of Michigan's little finger! Bright sun, no fog and the last 16 miles on the Leelanau Trail from Sutton's Bay. Tomorrow Petoskey, then the UP!! 70 miles today. Trip miles~388

Day #6-Steve says these guys know how to grow apples! He should know, his dad and uncle owned an orchard!!

From the bathroom during our stop at King Orchards

Picture taken outside Petoskey.  Our bikes are facing the wrong way!
Day #6-Rode this bike trail along US 31 the entire distance from Charlevoix. Porter County could take a lesson from these guys about how to support trails after you build them. That's enough... I'm on vacation!

Day #6-Traverse City to Petoskey State Park. 72 miles. Had best and worst riding today. The best was the Little Traverse Wheelway, a connecting series of bike paths. The worst riding was stretches of US #31 with 3 feet of bumpy shoulder to ride on and trucks whizzing past. The amazing weather made it all better. Tomorrow Big Mac!
Greetings from Harbor Springs.  Another wonderful coffee house, The Stained Cup.  We got tasty breakfast sandwiches with tangy salsa!  Excellent!
Day #7-Petoskey to Brevort, MI. 70.75 miles. Bright sunny and warm. Wonderful rural biking through little forgotten towns like Cross Village and Bliss! We shared a ride across the Mackinac Bridge with Matt. He'd been bicycling basically the same route we've been following only he's doing it on a single speed bike! He's got half a bottle of orange juice and a large county by county atlas of Michigan counties bungee corded to the back of his bike on top of camping gear.  He's headed across the bridge to eat in St. Ignace just to say he did it, before returning to camp in lower Michigan.  We say our good byes at the drop off point at the north end of the bridge. 
Steve (right) and I after we get dropped of at the north end of the bridge.  That will be $5.00 each!  Matt's bike in the background.

Steve poses with our bikes after we make it over Big Mac!  There are pasties in our immediate future!

Once on the road, we stop at the first place we come across that advertizes pasties. Pasty or Pasties  is kind of like a huge Hot Pocket filled with potatoes and meat. It's a UP thing! Ours are all vegetable. We also became acquainted with the yearly midge infestation at the bridge and on the road to tiny Brevort.  A midge is some bug that hatches from the lake bottom each spring. Best thing about them is they don't bite, they just stick to you! We stopped at Gustafson's, a combo filling station grocery store,  in Brevort to  inquire about the campsite nearby, whether it has showers.  It doesn't.  Steve actually listed Gustafson's as a source of smoked fish on the extensive itinerary he made in the months preceding the trip.  We buy a pound of smoked salmon from them to have for dinner.  It turns out the woman behind the counter also owns the motel we just passed and she gives us permission to take our bikes into the room with us.  So we're taking easy in a cheap motel, doing laundry and planning the next couple of days.

Day#8-Beeline down US #2 from Brevort to Gladstone Bay Campground, Gladstone, MI. 116 miles! This may have been a mistake, I'll know in the morning. We did set ourselves up for a short day tomorrow. We might be done before the rains begin. Highlights were a bald eagle sighting and some kind words from a couple at a rest stop. Also a huge snake coiled but dead along the side of the road and a car-deer crash. This camp ground in Gladstone may have had the best showers of the trip!  Great sleeping weather!

Day # 9-Stephen Arndt and I got soaked in a thunderstorm on the way to a breakfast place we'd heard about, the Swedish Pantry, in Escanaba . Our hostess, Phyllis, gave us a tip for a shortcut out of town, free blueberry muffins and a laundromat to dry our clothes! Good stuff! Headed for Menominee.

Day #9-Gladstone, MI to Marinette, WI. 70 miles. Tough day. Rain, narrow- shoulder-with-semis-whizzing-by bike riding. With no good mosquito protection we'd opted for cheap indoor accommodations. On our way I noticed my left crank arm covered with lubricant. The bolts had loosened to the point that I could remove it by hand. In other words my bike is broke! I'll find out in the morning whether it can be fixed. I suspect I'll need to replace the bottom bracket, but does one of the two local bike shops have one? Tune in tomorrow. Go Hawks!

Day #10-Marinette to Green Bay (Brown County Fairgrounds Camping). 68 miles. Great experience with Marinette Cycle Center owner who verified that I hadn't broken the seal to the bottom bracket bearings, torqued the bolts tight and gave us flawless directions to Green Bay for $5.00! I've always tended to believe in the goodness of people and the experiences we've had haven't shaken that one bit. Rode in rain early and hot sun late. When we got to Green Bay we got on the wrong side of the Fox River and had to retrace our steps.  Somewhere along the way we met up with Jeff, a local bike guy and tour guide for the local cycling club.  He escorted us down to our campground and told stories of his years touring.  His free advice was to forgo trying to traverse Milwaukee or Chicago and take the SS Badger from Manitowoc across the lake to Ludington.  I don't think he understood we were trying to circle the entire lake.  Oh, well.  I re-learned today that I don't tan well! Onward.

Day #11-Green Bay to Kohler-Andrae State Park . 78 miles. Rode the predicted tail wind to Lake Michigan, cutting off Door County. A sunny warm day after two wet gray days was much appreciated. Coolest night of the trip tonight with temps in the 40's should keep the bugs down. A couple of long challenging days as we navigate Milwaukee and then Chicago. Steve and I have both ridden into Chicago from Indiana a couple of times so at least we have some clue about how to do it. Hope it helps on our last leg of the circuit! Stay warm friends!

Day #12-Kohler-Andrae SP to south side of Milwaukee. 72 miles. Little bit of everything today-Cold rain, country roads, two wonderful bike trails ( the Ozaukee Interurban Trail and Oak Leaf Trail), city riding, sunshine, and fog. I could go on about riding in traffic, especially city traffic, but for now I'll just say it's not for the faint of heart. I have nothing but respect for anyone that rides in a big city! Stephen Arndt and I are living it up in a swank hotel by the airport. Not our preference and out of our way. We had hoped to get to Racine but it took way too long to get through Milwaukee. In fact we're still barely in the city limits! We are truly out of place at the Hilton! Think I'll have a cold one!

Day #13-Milwaukee to Illinois Beach State Park (aka Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park), 48 miles. Bittersweet last night of the trip. Went through Racine and Kenosha today. Two cities that seemed to have nothing in common. 
Another coffee house on our tour.  This one in Downtown Kenosha. They have electric trollies in the downtown district!  Could the sky get any bluer?

Nice to quit riding early and lounge around a bit before nightfall. As the trip progressed Stephen Arndt and I left ourselves less and less time to set up camp. We got better at it too. That skill will go unused for awhile now as we return to the lives we left two weeks ago. Funny how adaptable we are isn't it? Big ride in the morning to The Bean and beyond!

Day #14-Illinois Beach State Park to Chesterton, IN. 104 miles. What a day for bicycle tour of Chicago's lakefront from north to south! We rode into town on the Robert McClory Bike Trail, Sheridan Road and the Lakefront Trail. The northern suburbs are something else! We ran into Steve, who was riding to the local mini mall in Winnetka, Illinois.  He led us on relaxed ride along several side streets to get to a local bike trail and off of Sheridan Avenue.  Apparently his daughter and some friends were going on a bike trip along the Pacific Coast Highway and he felt they didn't have a clue about what they were doing.  He thought we might have some wisdom for them.  We parted company not on the bike trail but back on Sheridan Avenue which looked more bike-friendly along this stretch.  Almost immediately we found a Starbuck's and stopped.  Inside we found Steve waiting line!  Once we got closer to town, somewhere in Rogers Park, we exited the roads for the Lakefront Bike Trail.  

Taking a break with the Emerald City in the distance.   That's the Lakefront Bike Trail on the right. 
What a wonderful ride into the city!  We saw plenty of people taking advantage of the Divvy bike sharing program along the lakefront. People on the beaches and some even swimming! Stephen Arndt and I were pleasantly surprised by all the improvements south of the loop as well. There's new pavement on Lake Shore Drive (US #41) south of the South Shore Country Club, the southern terminus of the bike trail,  and bike lanes from there all the way to the bridge over the canal. The euphoria faded once we got back to Indiana. There was no cool lake breeze to keep things comfortable. It was a long hot trudge on familiar bike trails-Erie Lackawanna Trail, Oak Savannah Trail, and finally the Prairie-Duneland Trail.  We finished up back where we started fourteen days and 1000 miles later. Of course neither the place nor we are the same.

Yea, we're whipped!