UP Bike Tour Day 10: The Doons of Doom

I can’t say I woke up because I never really fell asleep. I am not a happy camper. In my sleep deprived state it took me over an hour to break camp. The road out of the camp ground went straight up so I finally told my ego to shut up and used my granny gear. It turns out that it was good practice for later on.

I started out on flat roads, a surprise because I was near Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. This area has immense (900+ feet) sand dunes so I was certain I’d be climbing them on my bike.

For the first 20 miles dunes were the least of my worries. A relentless 15 to 20 mile per hour headwind pushed me into a crawl. At mile 10 the shoulder of the road became a ragged mess.

Fueled only by a banana and an apple I made it 23 miles to the cutsie town of Glen Arbor. I stopped at a coffee house for java, a breakfast sandwich, and a cherry turnover. It was probably 2000 calories but my hunger raged on nevertheless. So I stopped at a grocery store and bought a sports drink. This revived me somewhat.

I entered the Sleeping Bear park on a bike path. It was very busy with tourists. When I came to a steep hill, all the tourists riding unloaded bikes were walking. I dropped The Mule into granny gear and rode past them.

To this point, the dunes were simply sandy forested hills, but when the path emerged from the woods, and there were the bare dunes. They are IMMENSE. Kids were coming down a path that was so steep that they would lose control and slide and tumble. A few minutes later the bike path veered away. It was then I realized that the immense dune was only the bottom half of the mass of sand!

In the town of Empire I stopped for lunch. I ate and drank (water and a beer). I left feeling much more energetic. The next ten miles once again reminded me of upstate New York outside of Albany where I grew up.

As I rode past Crystal Lake the winds picked up dramatically. The lake had whitecaps  and breakers on it.

I managed to survive the five-mile beat down and rolled into Frankfort where I made a status check. I was 56 miles into a very challenging ride. The temperature had risen into the high 80s and the humidity was high as well.

I decided to call it a day at the first motel I saw. There was no motel in sight as I rolled past Elberta so I plodded ahead. I wasn’t seeing very much as my head was down to avoid the wind.

I entered the Arcadia Dunes area. Until now, the roads and bike paths had gone around the dunes. In Arcadia the road climbed them. Back into the granny gear, I slogged up one half mile climb. The mile-long descent was breathtaking.

After a mile of flat roads, hill/dune no. 2 arose. I was grinding away when I heard a rumbling sound. A man on a huge mountain bike (a 29er) came screaming down the hill. The thick treads on his tires made the noise.

I finally reached the summit and took a moment to take in the awesome view of Lake Michigan.

Note the bending trees.

The descent into Arcadia was scary but fun. In town I saw only one motel. I spotted two women with bikes eating ice cream at a picnic table near the road.

Holly and Kristen talked my ear off and recommended a place right on the lake about a mile back. I rode there only to see it had no vacancies.

I found a place back in town. It’s a Felkerino kind of place, right out of the 1960s.

So ended a 72-mile day. There’s about 60 left. Holly and Kristen said that there are more dune climbs (albeit shorter ones) at the start of tomorrow’s festivities. Then the route flattens for the final 30-ish miles into Ludington.

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