BIKE TRIP TO AND AROUND LAKE HURON
Sunday, June 16
My frequent riding colleague, Francis Dantzman, started the trip today, four days ahead of me. At age 70, he doesn’t do as many miles a day as I do (I’m 58), so we’ll keep in touch along the way as I try to catch up to him.. We met for 8:00 a.m. Mass in Saukville, Wisconsin (north of Milwaukee). Then I accompanied him up into Sheboygan County and returned home, while he headed on to Green Bay for his first night’s stay.
Wednesday, June 19
Francis called. He’s made Thessalon, Ontario, about 50 miles past Sault Ste. Marie. So far said he had a lot of head winds – especially today.
Thursday, June 20 – Day 1
Left home (Germantown, Wisconsin) at 4:35 a.m. – with dawn’s first light, and rode north 76 miles, stopping at Hilbert about 9:15. Temperature around 70° starting out and 76° by 9:00. Winds SW and moderate, making for good riding – averaging over 16 mph despite Kettle Moraine hills.
Route: 145 and P to West Bend; 45 through Kewaskum past Waucousta; then CTH W to Calvary – then WW to 149 to G to Chilton. Then 57 to here (Hilbert). There was a detour on 149 north of Mt. Calvary. Tried to ride through the detour, but a bridge was out so I had to back track a bit, and take some back roads. Everything is green but the corn is a little small a/c the cool spring.
12:00 Noon – Stopped at an Indian gambling place at the intersection of CTH U and Hwys. 29/32, NW of Green Bay. Had soda. This is Oneida Indian territory. 111 miles for day.
3:00 – Stopped at Coleman on Hwy. 141 and had potato chips and soda. 152 miles for day. Temperature up to 88°. Near Wausaukee I got severe leg cramps and had to stop to rest. 15 minutes wasn’t enough and stopped again in Wausaukee.
I stopped again past Amberg – having to ride slowly and carefully to control cramps. Took Wausaukee hill in 2-3 gear – lower than my usual 3-4.
Called my mother in Iron Mountain, Michigan from Amberg and told her I’d be there to sleep.
Stopped again in Pembine for a cone, soda and water – leg cramps still a factor. I got to Iron Mountain about 8:20 – 209 miles for day.
Temperature still in 70’s, Francis called but we’ve had trouble with telephone connections. He’s in Sudbury, Ontario.
Wind shifted from SW to W around Green Bay then died later in the p.m. But it was still a net tailwind for the day.
Friday, June 21, 2002 – Day 2
Left at 4:25 a.m. and rode east until 8:30, getting to the 2/141 junction at Rapid River, Michigan – 64 miles so far. Temperature 58-61°. Intermittent light rain first 40 miles. Wind light and variable so far.
After breakfast, rode 39 miles to Manistique for lunch. Temperatures in low 60s. A modest headwind has come up. I met a bunch (about 30-40) of west-bound bikers and passed a support station they were using. Stopped at 3:15 at Engedine (144 miles for day) – had soda and a banana split. Was advised not to take Rte. 40, as it’s narrow and curvy. Temperature maybe about 70°. Partly cloudy – was almost all clouds earlier.
I rode up Rte. 117 then east on 28, stopping near Newberry for a hamburger, etc. Then I rode on until 7:20 CDT, stopping in Strongs – about 35 miles southwest of Sault Ste. Marie (the Soo).
190 Miles per day: 399 for trip.
I had a fish fry in Strongs. The town, such as it is, is full of motor bikers and mosquitoes. The former are nice.
I could have ridden further, but couldn’t count on finding a motel.
Winds usually light – more headwinds than otherwise, but call it neutral.
Saturday, June 22, 2002 – Day 3
Left around 4:20 CDT and rode to the Soo – had trouble getting on the bridge to Canada but eventually made it there with 41 miles for day. Cloudy and cool with occasional light rain – wind light from the east, I got some Canadian dollars at an ATM at the Casino near the bridge.
Stopped for breakfast at mile 45 at about 7:30 a.m. CDT. Stopped again in Thessalan for lunch at about 11:40 - 96 miles for day. Headwinds here from the Soo and decidedly hillier than Michigan. Having lunch at a beach front inn with a nice lake view. It’s my first good look at Lake Huron, after traveling over 400 miles to get here. The road only occasionally nears the lake. It’s not been a good road – the paved shoulder is frequently “washboard” making for a rough ride.
Some sun coming out about now, but still mostly cloudy and probably in the 60s.
After that stop the road improved markedly – no more “washboard” to speak of. I rode another 35 miles to Blind River arriving abut 3:45 local time to check out the weekend Mass situation. The parish sign said they had only an 11:30 a.m. Sun. Mass, but a person there (just coming out from a wedding) said the “French Church” had a 7:30 tonight. I decided to stay for it – so I got a hotel room and called it a day. There were about 100 Mass goers at the French Church – I was glad for the opportunity to participate in that language.
I went to do laundry but it was closed. So I’m trying to dry stuff here overnight – that won’t work so well. Today I met 2 riders – a young man and woman - going to Vancouver. They had a lot of tough riding ahead of them.
With 11 miles of local riding my total for the day is 142; today – 41 in Michigan, 101 in Ontario. For trip: 541 miles.
Temperature up to about 70° by late afternoon. Wind moved southerly but still a net headwind for day. Francis called. He’s at Walkerton on Highway 4 – way ahead.
Sunday, June 23, 2002 – Day 4
Left motel at 4:20 a.m. CDT and rode 60 miles to Espanola, stopping at 8:25. Fog first 30 miles and about 60°F. Now the sun’s coming out and I may put on sun screen for the first time since Thursday. The road has pulled away from the lake and won’t “return” for quite a while.
An obvious long distance biker just turned west from Rte. 6 – so I couldn’t ask his route (Rte. 6 heads south to Manitoulin Island, which sets off the Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron).
After “breakfast” (3 sweet rolls and 2 cookies) I rode 43 miles to the 17/69 intersection south of Sudbury. A nice tailwind came up that I’ll be sorry to lose as I turn south.
The temperatures are warm – 70s probably. I saw a few people wading in a small lake that must be warm enough.
There’s a mixture of flat land and “Canadian shield” climbing with exposed and blasted rock at the top of the hills. In places (maybe 10 miles total) the road was disappointingly narrow and, with a lot of trucks on the trans-Canadian, that’s not so good. But usually there’s plenty of width. I stopped south of Sudbury at the turn off of Rte. 69 and had lunch. 104 miles for day.
Very soon after I left, I was inundated by a big thunderstorm followed by a smaller steadier rain that lasted about 2 hours. But there was a silver lining – the previous south wind was not a factor. I continued about 75 miles south toward Parry Sound, which I reached about 8:30 p.m. – one stop along the way for 2 quarts of grapefruit juice and some candy.
The motel in Parry Sound had an attached restaurant with a good locally caught pickerel. So I had it, as it provides good local color.
Mileage for day: 200 miles even
Mileage for trip: 741 miles
Slight net tail wind
With my “laundry” from last night not dry and my clothes today wet from the rain, it’s not a good situation. I have clothing laying all over trying to dry – also the contents of my wallet. For supper I wore my flannel shirt – on a warm night – and the yellow shorts I sleep in – plus my light sandals. That’s all that was dry.
Francis called. He’s in Clinton, Ontario and will hit Michigan tomorrow if all goes well.
Monday, June 24, 2002 – Day 5
Left a little late at 6:10 – local time 5:10 CDT,
Rode 58 miles and stopped near “Sturgeon Bay” for brunch. There was a “no bikes” sign at one point on the freeway – I exited and couldn’t get a road in the right direction so I got back on the freeway and exited on Rte. 12.
Temperature about 60° and cloudy with a few drops of rain. Then I rode only 18 miles to Elmvale, where I had a craving for fresh fruit and got a large 1 ½ lb. bowl of honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries. Then I went to a village park with nice flowers in a little ravine, ate the fruit and took about a 45 minute nap – very refreshing.
From there I rode about 44 miles to Thornbury (110 for day). The Wasaga Beach and Collingwood areas are major beach tourist areas, and to the west the road comes right up to the Georgian Bay.
Unfortunately, it’s been raining as I approached Thornbury and I’m rather wet again. At Thornbury I had some Chinese food and waited out the rain and rode to Southhampton on Lake Huron – 159 miles for the day, 900 for the trip. Riding conditions were good from Owen Sound to Southhampton. Roads too narrow and heavily traveled from Thornbury to Owen Sound – the least comfortable riding of the trip.
Roads hilly as usual to Elmvale – a real steep one by Sturgeon Bay – then flat from Elmvale to Thornbury – hilly to Owen Sound and gentle hills west of Owen Sound.
The guy at Sturgeon Bay talked about pickerel fishing. For recreation, fishing and canoeing dominate northeast of Wasaga Beach. with family and beach stuff to west. Slight west wind in a.m.; slight tailwind late (neutral for day).
Francis is only a day ahead of me now but we won’t make contact. After Pt. Huron, he’s going straight NW to Ludington, where he’ll take the ferry to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Whereas I’m continuing up the Lake Huron shore all the way to the Straits of Mackinac.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002 – Day 6
It’s a warm sunny day apparently headed for hot. I left a little after 6:00 local time and find myself against the first sustained headwinds of the trip – not strong but consistent. So my speed isn’t so good.
I stopped for breakfast after 27 miles at Kincardine and at 11:20 a.m. for lunch at mile 61 in Goderich.
Ever since Thornbury, the land is mainly farms and the “shield” hills are missing. Actually, there are only gentle hills and “river crossing” hills since Owen Sound yesterday,
I met a large organized ride headed north. They were on a ride from Kitchener up the Bruce Peninsula and back.
Later I met a lone rider also headed to Tobermorey and perhaps Manitoulin Island.
I rode another 30 miles and stopped at Grand Bend a little after 2:00 local time to get cookies and soda (at 91 miles for day). A time/temp clock reads 93°F and I believe it – easily the hottest of the trip (88° on day #1) – no lake effect cooling. The road edged nearer to the Lake and since several miles north of Grand Bend the lake has been in or nearly in sight. A lot of lake homes near but it doesn’t look like a tourist area.
As the name suggests, this area is near where the lake (and route) arcs from south to southwest and eventually to west).
After Grand Bend, I rode 35 more miles until a little after 5:00 local time to a sub/pizza shop coming into Sarnia on Rte. 7 (126 miles for day). I’d like to have gotten to the U.S. side first (I was out of Canadian dollars) but badly need the down time and liquids.
On the way in, I passed a 66 year old guy who was out for a local 60 mile ride.
When the road turned southwest after Grand Bend, the oblique headwind became a direct headwind. Not a strong wind, but a cumulative burden. Below Grand Bend, the surroundings went ”recreation” for 10 miles or so, perhaps because of a big provincial park along the lake. Then the farms resumed – lush, green and growing. I took Rte. 7 into Sarnia to save some miles.
I wasn’t allowed to cross the bridge but they transport “cross-country riders”, so I got across. Once in Pt. Huron, I started north with the south wind now a blessing. But I had to stop after 20 miles because of a thunderstorm – stopped in Lexington and got wet but not too bad as the main storm hit after I got here. Net headwind for the day
156 miles for day
Crossed into U.S. after 136 miles
Miles to date: 1056
Wednesday, June 26, 2002 – Day 7
Left motel around 6:00 EDT and rode 42 miles to Harbor Beach. Temperature 72° - 78° and muggy. Rain is predicted.
Michigan so far has been flat – paved shoulder all but first 6 or so miles of Huron County (the County at the end of the Michigan “thumb”)..
From Harbor Beach, I rode 25 miles to Pt. Austin. The county was mostly farm country. As the road turned from north to northwest and the west, the southwest wind gradually shifted from oblique at my back to a crosswind to an oblique headwind. With no cover from trucks or buildings, it was hard going.
From the very top of the thumb at Port Austin, the landscape changed. Port Austin is a tourist center, and from there on, for many miles, the Saginaw Bay side is just filled with cottages – at least the 19 miles to Caseville, from where this is written.
Anyway, I had some grapes and beverage in a park in Pt. Austin. The sun had come out and it was quite hot. At Caseville, I’ve had lunch and it’s clouded up, threatening rain.
I met a heavily equipped bike rider who’s doing a 5-day trip from Pontiac up to and around the thumb. He has camping gear, but stayed in a motel anyway last night. He’s enjoying the tailwind he has.
My direct headwind going southwest from Pt. Austin hasn’t been as bad as before Pt. Austin, because the trees and buildings reduce its effect.
Next stop was Sebewaing where I waited out a rain shower briefly and detoured to a local park.
Then I had to contend with serious head winds for the 30 miles into Bay City, where I stopped to eat and then rode a little over an hour to Pinconning, where I was told I had the last room and that only because of a cancellation. There’s a big walleye fishing event that has everything filled for miles around.
Mileage 154 for day; 1210 for trip
Wind: Net headwind despite early tail wind.
Francis got home this morning, riding from Manitowoc to Milwaukee after taking the night ferry from Ludington. He averaged 122 miles per day. Not bad for a 70 year old.
Thursday, June 27, 2002 – Day 8
“Slept in” and didn’t start until 7:40 local time. Rode 47 miles to East Tawas for late breakfast at about 11;15. Brief beverage stop earlier. Temperature 65 - 70°. Wind has swung to the northwest, so it’s a crosswind.
The road above AuGres is along the shore with continuous cottages – lots of motels, etc. in Tawas and East Tawas – with plenty of vacancies, so it would appear that Walleye festival is further south.
I stopped at Harrisville with 78 miles for the day – continued head wind. A couple was here that just started a trip around the lake yesterday. They were going to go out Manitonlin Island and take the ferry across the Georgian Bay.
For the first 15 miles north of Harrisville I encountered the first significant hills so far in Michigan – but it wasn’t bad compared to either Ontario or even the Kettle Moraine.
I’ve stopped for food in Alpena at about 5:30 local time. A salesman gave me 3 sample bottles of Enova Athletic Edge – a “performance dietary supplement”. I’m drinking one of them here.
I reached Rogers City at about 9:00 p.m. and found a downtown motel somewhat near a restaurant/bowling alley. The wind continued from the northwest all the way for the first 20+ miles out of Alpena. High temperature around 75°F. There were two larger inland lakes with continuous cottages, then beginning 15 miles from Rogers City there was a swamp that went about 8 or 9 miles, then some hills that brought me into town – one of the hills provided stone for a big quarry operation. Rogers City is not tourist oriented – only a couple of motels and restaurants.
153 Miles for day.
1363 miles for trip.
Friday, June 28, 2002 – Day 9
Left hotel around 5:40 EDT and rode to the Mackinac Bridge – 58 miles – with about a 10 minute stop in Cheboygan.
They had a number to call at the bridge for a pick-up truck to transport bikes. I got across with some delay and am having breakfast in St. Ignace – having gotten here about 10:30 EDT.
Temperature has ranged from the upper 50s to upper 60s; it’s bright and sunny – winds light from the west – a headwind but not much of one.
Early on, I had a beer bottle or something thrown at me. I though the guy in the passenger seat in an oncoming car was waiving. The next thing I knew I heard a bottle shatter behind me. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me.
One overlook gave a view of the bridge from 20+ miles away.
After breakfast I headed west on U.S. 2, stopping for refreshments at Epoufette (mile 87) and again at Gould City (mile 113). US 2 is a great bike-riding road with wide shoulders throughout Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
At mile 107, crossing M-117 at Engadine. I “closed the loop” of my trip around Lake Huron – a bit anticlimatical, since I last saw Lake Huron 50 miles before. The route home is along Lake Michigan.
Skies continue mostly clear and slightly hazy – temperatures varying, I would guess from the upper 60s when I’m by the lake to upper 70s when the road rolls away.
There’re some miles of dunes east of St. Ignace that had attracted a number of beach goers. A sign at Naubinway announces the northernmost point of Lake Michigan.
Rode on to Manistique and quit early (6:30) because I couldn’t make Escanaba and didn’t want to chance finding a motel room in the small towns in between on a Friday night.
Winds – neutral
Mileage – 149 for day
1512 for trip
Saturday, June 29, 2002 – Day 10
Began a little after 5:30 local time (EDT) and rode 54 miles to Escanaba for breakfast, arriving about 9:30 EDT. Temperature 60° rising to 70°. Very little wind (a headwind is due later per the news) a little fog and haze in the a.m.
11:40 CDT (time change) stopped for a beverage in Cedar River – on Rte. 35. Brisk headwind since leaving Escanaba.
2:00 p.m. – Reached the Wisconsin line at mile 110 for the day. Temperature up to 86°F – continued brisk headwinds. Stopped for lunch at a Cousin’s sub shop in Marinette.
At Marinette, I learned there was a 4:30 Mass in Oconto, which I caught 23 miles more up the line.
After some extra time in Oconto to find the Church, then food, then the right road (which was detoured), I rode on to Green Bay to stay the night with relatives, arriving around 9:00 p.m.. Route was S, J & miscellaneous local streets, Continued head winds but diminished.
Mileage for day 170; 1682 for day
Winds: headwinds – worst of trip
Sunday, June 30, 2002 – Day 11
I left at first light at 4:40 to try to void some of the anticipated heat – not completely successful – three early temperature readings were 77, 78 & 80°F. Continued south winds (headwinds).
I rode 25 miles to the south of Kaukauna for my first stop, and drank 2 quarts of liquids.
Route: Local streets, Military, Lombardi and Broadway in Green Bay – then Lost Dauphin to Wrightstown and 96 to Kaukauna, where I’ve picked up 55.
After the stop, I stayed on 55 to its end at 151, along the east short of Lake Winnebago, then stayed on 151 to Pipe, where I took CTH W across the heart of the Kettle Moraine hills. This is definitely a “4-H” Club day – Heat, Humidity, Hills and Headwinds! With the hot weather and adequate soil moisture, the corn has grown spectacularly in the 10 days I’ve been gone.
After 62 miles for the day I stopped at the W/23 intersection near Mt. Calvary for rest and refreshments (including 3 more quarts to drink) about 10:00 a.m. This should be about 45 miles from home. Notwithstanding the 4 H’s, (my shirt is dripping with my gloves not far behind), a sense of exhilaration is building at the prospect of “comin’ on in” to home,
1:20 p.m. - stopped at 60 & P in Jackson – 97 miles for day, temperature in low 90s. Too hot to risk not making another stop; I drank another 2 ½ quarts of liquid.
2:30 p.m. – Arrived home in Germantown. 90°+ degrees.
107 miles for day – significant head wind.
1789 for trip – average 162 per day