Last night Felkerino, who is on a tandem tour of the Sierras and Cascades with Coffeeneur, advised me that my touring itinerary might be a tad too aggressive. Today proved him right.
After a somewhat restful sleep (shut up owls!) I left camp at 6 15 am. A dense fog had fallen overnight. It was spooky. Fortunately there were very few cars on the road. My legs were dead but I soldiered on in search of a rejuvenating breakfast. The town of Alpha offered a general store but it was closed. Crystal Falls looked promising but all it had was a gas station with two scruffy townies sitting out front. I grabbed my back up Clif bar and rolled on.
The fog had lifted as if to welcome the logging trucks. These sucker are HUGE. I rode on to Sagola, 25 miles from the start. It had a gas station with day old pepperoni rolls. (They weren’t even proper pepperoni rolls but I didn’t care.)
I ate and hit the road with new life in my legs and ears wide open for the sound of big trucks coming up from behind.
Yesterday’s encounter with a westbound bike tourist led me to believe that I would hit a steep hill near Crystal Falls. I did. It was a steep down hill. Ahhh.
It was the exception though. The terrain was much more like the first day and a half. The hills were long and gradual. After my first 25 miles of struggling, I was cruising along nicely, powered by junk food.
I finally found out what was going on with the logging trucks. They were carrying logs from the National Forests (run by the Department of Agriculture) to an assembly point. Here they were sorted and trucked to lumber mills. When I took the photo that follows, I thought I was looking at all the logs. In fact, as I rode on. I saw that the operation went on for what looked like a half mile.
I rode on losing energy with every mile. I stopped at a general store for more junk including a bona-fide UP treat, a Yooper Bar.
Off again I found my head sagging and my mind contemplating my route map more than the scenery, a sure sign of burn out.
I played mental games to take my mind off the fact that it was now raining and I was riding into a slight headwind. I was very grateful to be going ever so gradually downhill.
The terrain was very reminiscent of the counties north of Albany NY, where I grew up. I finally rolled into what I thought was Escanaba, my destination. Instead I got 5 miles of dull, flat boredom. When I finally arrived at Escanaba proper it looked just like Valparaiso, Indiana. Zzzz.
The rain made me rule out camping on Lake Michigan. Nothing like a wet campground with the promise of more rain overnight to put my sorry old ass into a hotel for the night.
Some idiot scheduled another 80 miler for tomorrow. Fortunately the same idiot found out that The Mule’s rear hub is loose.
I now have an excuse to lay in, go to the bike shop at 10, and ride a more modest distance, albeit in the rain.
For the record I managed to ride 89 miles today. It felt like 189.