"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day 5 - Getting Into the Swing of Things

Our Route: Montague – Ludington

Departed:May 21, '15, 09:23AM
Starts in:Montague, MI, US
Distance:48.6 mi
Elevation:1838 / - 1678 ft
Max Grade
7.7 %
Avg. Grade
0.3 %
Total Duration:07:57:22
Moving Time:03:54:17
Max Speed:32.5 mph
Avg. Speed:12.4 mph


After conquering our longest day without bonking I began to believe I could actually make this whole trip. For a while there it seemed a little doubtful. Will says I just have to staying below my threshold and think of this as a month-long “Neal” ride. Neal, although a fast rider, leads my favorite weekly moderate ride to interesting places. And this is certainly a ride to interesting places.

Will and Jim along the Montague - Hart trail

Montague - Hart Trail

We started the day riding north along the Montague – Hart bike trail finding interesting views of western Michigan farm country and small town life as we went. Clearly the railroad MADE these towns. The feed stores, grain elevators, and other smaller business once thrived on the commerce the iron horse brought. Now, however, they’re seeking new sources of commerce and finding some in “active tourists” like us. Cindy, our desk clerk at the Weathervane in Montague said that yes, they get lots of cyclists through there as they sit right on the path. Several nice restaurants in town attest to the cycle traffic. So great to see that what’s good for us is good for local business. Now if we could just get more municipalities to see it that way.

While the bike trail was well maintained and easily navigated, like all former rail lines it was exceedingly flat and mostly straight. That might sound great a first but after eight, ten miles or so you welcome a little diversity. Your bones just get weary of being on the bike. So when we finally existed the path just south of Pentwater it was with a welcome sense of relief. We were also heading back westward toward our beloved lake.  

The wide but shallow Pentwater Lake from the east

Western Shore Towns are Different from Eastern Ones

Cities and towns like Pentwater on this western shore of Lake Michigan seem to me to have a different feel, a different geography from those on the eastern shore. Western shore towns grew up along fast moving rivers cut through hard stone or granite. Here on the eastern shore with its sandy base, the rivers and even the look of the land is different. Rivers flow slowly, forming wide shallow lakes at their mouths. Harbors are large and wide, taking a looooong time to ride around you find a narrow enough place for a bridge. On the western shore we have lots of narrow deep ravines that guide the rivers to the lakes. Here the land is swampy. Left in its natural state it develops wonderfully diverse wetlands. Several towns we rode through, like Muskegon on day three, have developed great bike trail / boardwalks along the edges of these harbors over the wetlands. They make a marvelous contrast to the congestion and industry of the ports. 

Ed and Will riding the Ludington Power embankment

Ludington Power Plant

After leaving the cute little beach town of Pentwater we head north again along the lake toward Ludington. On the way we ride over an embankment that houses the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant. Don’t understand all the engineering, but the concept is that they pull water out of Lake Michigan at night when electrical demand is low and then generate power by driving it back down through HUGE turbines during the day. In any event it makes an impressive sight. Of course it raised questions in my mind about the
Ludington Power hydro-electric turbines
value of destroying a large area of dune, creating an unnatural impact on the surrounding natural area and aquatic life all to create power. But, without that power I would not be writing you now. I could not carry on my life as I know it. Furthermore, atop the huge mound, above the water storage area runs an equally large wind farm. No indication of how much power that generated, but it looked impressive too. 

The Badger Brings a Friend

At Ludington we met up with Robb who’d come to join us for Stages 2 and 3 of the trip over to
The Badger leaving Manitowoc, WI
Green Bay by riding the historic Badger car Ferry over from Manitowoc. While on board Robb met Chelsea, a young woman riding her bike from Oregon to New York. Chelsea spent that night and the next morning entertaining us with stories of the last 5 weeks on the road. Here we had been thinking riding a month around the lake was great stuff only to be put to shame by an ever more adventurous undertaking. Best of luck to you Chelsea as you continue on the next 4 -5 weeks.

Robb and Chelsea just off the Badger

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