"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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Our Last Day's Route: Racine - Kenosha - Home

Joined by our friend Neal for this last day we once again we avoided the thunderstorms which seemingly were all around us. Arriving at Bluffington's, our last stop we were greeted by Jim and Barbara who drove up and by Robb who rode through much tougher stuff in order to lead us home.  Thanks guys that meant a lot.

Departed:Jun 15, '15, 09:37AM
Starts in:Racine, WI, US
Distance:56.2 mi
Elevation:2082 / - 1996 ft
Max Grade13.5 %
Avg. Grade-0.2 %
Total Duration:06:30:35
Moving Time:04:12:05
Max Speed:22.8 mph
Avg. Speed:13.4 mph

Not Ready for Summing Up Yet

I suppose at this point I should be reflecting on the wonderfulness of our month long trip, recounting my favorite and least favorite moments. I should be taking stock, looking at the totals, seeing the big picture. But, truthfully I'm still stuck in the ending moments the final push to the end, the determination to see this thing through. Reflections, recounting and summing up will have to wait until another day. I become so accustomed to writing in the morning that I have to believe I'll be doing more so stay tuned if you're interested. For now I think I'll just give a short recap of our last day.

Sun then Rain then Steamy Sun all the way Home

TWC radar an hour before
we started
Despite a rather grim forecast on my phone, Will's  Racine radar showed a possible opening, at least for a while. Joined for the day by our friend Neal, the three of us, determined to get this done, headed out just as the sun appeared. We removed our preparatory rain gear and lathered up with sunscreen hoping we did not thereby jinx our chances. But, the nice weather held, at last for 15 miles when it began to lightly rain on the south side of Kenosha. Kept that up for another 15 until we finished lunch and were passing through Waukegan and North Chicago. Then the steamy sun appeared again and held until we finally reached home some 25 miles later. At that point I personally wished for the slightly cooler rain.

All this time our family and friends back home in Evanston, Wilmette and Chicago were getting pounded with rain, wind and thunder. We'd invited folks to join us at Bluffington's in Lake Bluff to ride the 20 miles home but most wisely declined given the torrent. But, Robb, our two week riding companion, accustomed to our determination, braved the onslaught in order to pull us in for most of the final 20 miles. It was great to see him there along with Barbara and Jim who had driven up just for the greeting. Thanks guys.

Jim, Neal, Robb, Will and me taking a short break in front of Bluffington's
a favorite Evanston Bike Club hang-out

Ridin' Down Green Bay Road to Home

Once we reached the final stretch, coming down Green Bay Road Robb suggested I lead the way. What an emotional moment. To think that a little over a week ago I'd been to its northern point along the Fox River. There I touched base a bit with my ancestral roots and now I was riding this historic road home just as I do every Friday when I lead an club ride. It was a strange mixture of the historic and the ordinary and I guess that's what life really is, both a continuation of the past and a making of the new. At one point I was moved to tears and then remembered I still need to keep my wits about me and finish the ride.


"Circumpedalated" THE LAKE

Completed the Pilgrimage

From the Garage Back to the Garage 
Two Wheels All the Way 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ridin' Through the Ol' Hometown

Our Route: Port Washington - Milwaukee - Racine

The day began with fog and rain but turned to sunshine around Milwaukee. Got to see some sights I'd never visited as a kid. 

Departed:Jun 14, '15, 09:15AM
Starts in:Port Washington, WI, US
Distance:65.8 mi
Elevation:3705 / - 3824 ft
Max Grade
25.9 %
Avg. Grade
0.0 %
Total Duration:08:35:02
Moving Time:05:14:17
Max Speed:21.9 mph
Avg. Speed:12.6 mph

Starting Out WET

We left Port Washington prepared for fog and rain. The forecast was not great but Will and I are determined now to finish these last two days on our own two wheels, garage to garage. We've come 1,300 miles already - almost all the way around THE LAKE and we don't want a little inclement weather to keep us from our goal. Fortunately, once again, the threat of thunderstorms did not materialize. Ladies up there still lookin' out for us I guess and we give thanks to them and to all our well wishes constantly. We slogged through the stuff and began to see a glimmer of sun about the time we reached the Schiltz Audubon Center in Bayside, just north of Milwaukee. A little further on and ... Ta Da ... sunshine and our first glimpse of the lake in two days - WOW that felt good.


While doing my history of Lake Michigan research for this trip I found out that I really knew very little about Milwaukee, the town I grew up in. I left there over 40 years ago and although I returned often for family visits I never really spent anytime exploring this great city, second largest on the lake. For this ride I determined to at least visit a few important landmarks. I grew up on the west side of town close to
Milwaukee's Water Tower
built in the year of the
Great Chicago Fire - 1871
North Avenue, but when I went downtown to the Art Center or to college I always went by south first and then east. Never directly east. If I'd done so I would have discovered that the lake was less than 4 miles from my house. I would have seen some of the most historically spectacular residences and community buildings. But, I did not. I stayed in my little world, did not venture out to the north or south side. What a shame. Now they seem intriguing. Now I want to explore. This trip, this "sample trip" as we've come to think about it has the potential for generating many more shorter ones of deeper exploration.

For some reason I particularly enjoyed navigating through Milwaukee's south side by bicycle, finding all the small, lightly trafficed streets that threaded our way out of town and on to the beautiful Oak Leaf Trail bike paths and city parks along the lake.

The Fog that Ate Milwaukee

As Far As I Could See - We've Been There!

After the sun came out and we could see THE LAKE I again marveled that as far as I could see across it in any direction - I had been there and on my bicycle. We've been at this a month now. Left Chicago in the fog (remember the "Fog that ate Chicago" photo) and now are returning in the breaking fog. We've been through the surprising Indiana, but the dune covered lower Michigan shore, past the Straights of Mackinaw, across the wild and desolate UP, down along the shallow and marshy Green Bay, up the other side to Door County and now down the rocky western shore past port town after port town. Many, many memories. Much still to process. Maybe much still to write.

Still, one more bittersweet day to go. I will be glad to be home. I miss Jim and our regular life. I will be sad to be done. I like the traveling, being on the road, the discovery, the sheer determination to keep going despite the weather. But on balance, at least for now. I'm ready to be done traveling. In a week or so though, after I'm emerged in life's routine let's see if I'd rather be back on the road.

Finally Sun - Looking back toward Milwaukee's Harbor

Looking South Toward Racine and the End of Today's Ride

Sunday, June 14, 2015

There Will Be Fog When You Ride Along the Lake

Our Route: Manitowoc - Port Washington

The fog we encountered in spots yesterday moved in in earnest today. Hard to see a few feet in front much less gaze across the lake. Big contrast to riding this stretch just a year ago.

Departed:Jun 13, '15, 09:21AM
Starts in:Manitowoc, WI, US
Distance:57.2 mi
Elevation:1374 / - 1169 ft
Max Grade
4.4 %
Avg. Grade
0.2 %
Total Duration:07:39:03
Moving Time:04:22:38
Max Speed:26.8 mph
Avg. Speed:13.1 mph

Foggy Day Make for Tense Riding

Hyka Park, Cleveland, WI 2015
There's a lake out there somewhere I'm sure

Back in January when we were finalizing our itinerary Will figured that by the time we reached
Hyka Park - 2014
southern Wisconsin we'd have summer riding conditions - we'd be beyond the worst of it. All along we worried about the weather in the UP. Would it rain all the time? Would we have stiff headwinds? What about SNOW?! But, once we got close to home, surely the weather then would be fine.  HA HA Having lived our whole lives near Lake Michigan we should have known better. East winds off the still very cold lake create banks of fog when they reach the much warmer land.

These past two winters  have been particularly cold freezing over the lake leaving spring temperatures still in the 30s. While this kept down evaporation thus raising the water level from its historic low, it has kept the surrounding weather less than summer-like. So, we rode through fog. We struggled to see. We dressed for rain because and wished we had our UP weather back again. How Strange!

Now that we're this close to the end, just three days to go, we don't want anything to stop us. We'll ride through just about anything to say we've done the whole thing on our own two wheels. And truthfully we expected worse - just earlier in the trip. Now its time to "man-up" as they say. I expect more fog / rain before we're done.

On top of fog we also encountered some road construction.
Thankfully it was Saturday, no one working and we made our way cautiously
through the mess. One benefit - no other traffic. Couldn't have seen them if they'd been there