UP Bike Tour Day 8: The Turn South

I awoke at 5:30 from an ineffective sleep. I glided the loaded Mule to the ferry which was over 2 miles distant. I managed to stumble into a high speed ferry. It looks like your basic small boat but it reared up as soon as it cleared the no wake zone. Smooth as silk. Not a touch of motion sickness.

It was before 8 and I was on car-free Mackinac Island. I grabbed breakfast in a cafe before taking The Mule for a gentle lap on the flat road around the edge of the island. It was so peaceful. Just some runners (oh how I’d kill to run a lap or two in this cool air), some walkers, bicyclists, and horse drawn vehicles.

I stopped to climb to the top of a stone arch. 200+ steps that my weary legs didn’t need.

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A learned a few minutes later that it was clearly visible from the road.

Soon the circuit was done but not before I gawked at some magnificent Victorians.

The ferry to Mackinac City was a bit choppier but my stomach behaved. (For surviving 3 ferry rides without calling Ralph I get Carl Kassel’s voice on my answering machine.)

Mac City was confusing but I soon found the bike path out of town. No matter how hard I tried I could not get The Mule over 10 miles per hour.

This worsened when the bike path gave way to bumpy, rolling, winter weathered country roads. A headwind was not helping the situation.

I passed the town of Bliss and went into a gas station minimart. On the UP humanity came in large white male bodies. Here was the most incredible hodgepodge of humanity. Cat hats. Young women struggling to carry huge boxes of PBRs. The guy in front of me was chanelling Dennis Rodman: African American, 6 foot tall, 145 pounds, nasty looking ring in his left nostril, stud in his lower lip, pink bra under a lacy top with spaghetti shoulder straps. (Dude, your bra was too big. Either get yourself some man boobs or drop down a size.) I’d venture to guess he’s not a Yooper.

Outside while eating, Toby, a 40 something white man wearing a baseball cap with the word “bliss” on it, explained that the Bliss music festival is going on. It’s been in business for over 30 years. We discussed Hot Tuna, Arlo Guthrie, and Peter Yarrow before
I rolled out, still struggling. I finally figured out that my tent which was tied down to my rear rack was pressing against my brake cable.

Good thing I figured it out. The next 20 miles were on a road called the Tunnel of Trees. I finally started to enjoy the day when a detour sent me straight up a long. windy, bumpy hill. I managed to find a pedaling rhythm at 4 miles per hour. Something still felt wrong. After I descended back to my route, I stopped and saw that my left pedal had lost part of its structure. Basically the platform was about to slide off the pedal axle.

Dang.

The Tunnel of Trees ran along a bluff affording views of the lake and awesome homed of every design imaginable clinging to the hillside.

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The route descended to the lakeside and gave way to a bike path. Smooth. Flat. I cruised around Little Traverse Bay. When I got to Petoskey, I re-checked my bad pedal. It was literally falling apart. It was 5 pm on a Sunday. I called some bike shops and one answered the phone. “Were closed, but bring it in. We’ll help you out.”

The Bahnhof Ski shop was just a mile further along my route. In 15 minutes they had me back on the road. I didn’t take a picture of them but I am so grateful for their help.

They sent me on my way with recommendations of motels in Charlevoix, 17 miles away. The ride was mostly on a bike path along the bay and the lake. It gave way to streets lined with flowers.

I crashed at The Lodge and hit the streets for much needed liquid refreshment.

Another 83 miles in the books.

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