"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

Sampler from Stage 1 - Total 380 Miles

We've now completed Stage 1, the most difficult in terms of miles per day. 

Only 1,000 more miles to go

But, even long, cold days could not diminish our enjoyment of Lake Michigan's eastern shore
Here's an simplified overview of Stage 1. Because we tended to hug the
lake shore where ever we could, we picked up a few more miles
than this graph would indicate. The hills, however, are not diminished

Day 3  St. Joseph - Holland: 65 miles

Day 4   Holland - Montague: 75 miles

Day 5  Montague - Ludington: 49 miles

Day 6 Ludington - Watervale: 59 miles


In retrospect we have come to realize that an average of over 63 miles a day for six days on our first stage was a bit of an over reach. Thankfully Jim and Ed alternated driving the support van, carrying our gear. Day three, a cold, windy shock after our perfect day two, presented the biggest challenge. As typical for most multi-day adventures, on day three my body wanted a break NOT more work. It resisted the effort.  Thankfully, Ed helped remind us to ease up a bit, take it a little slower, and arrive a little later thereby avoiding the bonks. Once I got through day three, once I disciplined myself to take it easy, I overcame that initial resistance. Each day got a little easier, even the 75 mile day. Even yesterday with its two long, steep hills. Going slowly meant we got in late each night. Plenty of day light this time of year, but after cleaning up and eating there was no time left for communicating. Sorry, I've been out of touch.

Will try here to give a little update on the highlights. So much to take in. So much we just passed by. This part of the trip will have to be termed a "sampler" as we just didn't have time to delve into anything too deeply. I'll deal with day 3 and day 4 here and leave 5 and 6 for later.

St. Joseph - Holland: Day 3

Ranger Station at Covert County Park - a welcome, warm
haven on a very cold day.
 Given the weather we decided to just ride, ride, ride. Little time or energy for stopping long to see the sights. Covert County park, however, combined both a much needed rest, break from the wind, dune exploration and an unexpected meeting. Katelynn, the 24/7 park ranger, welcomed us warmly directed us to the facilities and the stairway up and over the dune. Here is where I came to truly appreciate the height, magnitude and protective properties of these unique geological structures. Their simultaneously huge and magical. I have a hard time comprehending. (To see a photo of Katelynn, check out our "Lovely People We've Met" page in the right column).

 After a warming stop in South Haven we ride on into more wind eventually learning our lesson to take it slow. We're hoping to cut off a few miles in Saugatuck by taking the Chain Ferry but to no avail. CLOSED DUE TO HIGH WIND read the sign. More back tracking, more wind, more miles getting really tired. 

As we enter Holland Kerry meets us and guides us through the chaotic recent construction to his lovely home along the river. I'd met Kerry as I'd met Christine through a 

network of folks working on developing an around Lake
Michigan bicycle route. As we talked about our passed cycling adventures we unexpectedly discovered that Kerry and his wife Mary, Jim and I had all been on a two-week bike tour of England in ... 1979!!!  Thirty-six years ago and here we were sitting in their kitchen in Holland. What a small world. Thanks Kerry and Mary for your gracious hospitality, the loan of a pair of cold weather gloves and a FANTASTIC breakfast recommendation. (Again, you can see a nice photo of Kerry & Mary in our "Lovely People We've Met" page).

Holland - Montague: Day 4

Will and Jim navigating by USBR 35

The day dawns even colder but, thankfully, less windy. We face a 75 mile ride today. I'm feeling tired and a bit discouraged, but determined to give it a go. We follow Ed's advise again and take it slow, stopping only briefly. By the end of the day we're all feeling stronger, tired, but stronger. Along the way we benefit from the great work the state and local bike planners have done by constructing a US bike route detour around the incredibly busy Grand Haven bridge. While the signage is not what we'd like, we're able to navigate through the morass and come out the other side with a sense of adventure.

We do manage to visit both Kirk County Park and PF Hofmaster State Park where we see some beautiful dunes close up, land earn about their construction and ecology. Jim gets to climb the dune after we switch off riders. We ride on, thankfully protected from today's wind by these ancient giants along the coast. I begin to get a sense and a feel of them.

A quick hot dog lunch precedes a quiet, boardwalk ride around the quiet wetlands in Muskegon's harbor. Here industry mixes with nature in wide variety - all bit mind boggling. But the town seems like its regaining life because of its focus on "active tourism."

We continue on, headed back west to the lake ride north again along the shore. Taking in the beautiful inlets, shallow lakes and forested dunes. A long, but a good day ends with a comfortable welcome in Montague.



  1. Suzy, I'm surprised you have the energy to write and post anything. I love the photos and I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you are seeing and experiencing. I hope the next week brings you better weather.