August 6, 2018/ Expense
This is a guest post by Hubbs Grimm following his recent bucket list adventure of biking the Top of Michigan Trails. All words, photos, cones, infusions, chews and visualizations are his inspiration.
I just completed a solo adventure on my Cruz bike and wanted to tell other Cruz riders and potential Cruz riders about it to encourage them to try something similar.
Michigan: I am a 72 year old male in reasonable but not competitive shape. I had never done a multi-day trip of any kind.
Mein Cruzbike: I have my Q559 (predecessor ofthe new Q45) in May 2016 to replace a recumbent Canondale Bent I've had for about 3 years. The Q559 was a huge upgrade. Faster, safer, more ways to get into my body. I can comfortably ride 15 to 16 mph on the flat, with faster sprints when needed and slower gears for the climbs.
bottom: About 7 years ago I got to the point where riding a traditional bike was a "day after pain" unless I was willing to clean up the neighborhood. I usually don't cast when I'm doing something. Cruzbike allowed me to start riding seriously.
The place: The northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula has a significant network of railroads, most of which are patrolled by theTopo do Michigan Trail Council. Most trails are made of crushed limestone, generally flat or with very slight slopes (1-2%) as they wind through forests, along the Interior and Great Lakes, and through quaint towns and small towns. I started in Gaylord on the North Central Trail and also took the Northwest Trail and Little Traverse Wheelway. Some lightly traveled roads with challenging hills got me back on track to head back to Gaylord.
"Most trails are made of crushed limestone, generally flat to very smooth (1-2%) as they wind through forests, along the Interior and Great Lakes, and through quaint towns and small towns".
Highlights of the trip report include: Mackinac Island, which has only bicycles and horses for transportation, the bustling and picturesque town of Petoskey and Bay Harbor, a world-class resort built from an old quarry on the Wheelway, Charlevoix with its drawbridge that transports ships across Lakes Michigan and the Inner Lake. Charlevoix and finally Boyne City at the other end of Lake Charlevoix, known for its excellent margaritas and Mexican food, at least that's how I know it.
Preparation: My planning and preparation started months in advance to get my body in shape first. I've ridden up to 45 miles and nearly 100 miles in one week, but I've never ridden consecutive days. Upgraded to Q Touring and Commuting Rack and Sling Pack for close storage. I added a RackTime Talis Plus pack to my outfits. I planned each section and looked for accommodation in each place to spend the night. As a final gesture, I went and drove the intended road route over the summits, both because of the state of the road and the extent of the hills.
He: I needed a theme to focus my efforts and time away from the Cross bike. I chose Cones, Brews, Chews and Views - my cross bike adventure. I planned in advance the ice cream shops, breweries and restaurants that would fit the prospects that were about to emerge.
The trip: It was everything I had hoped for and then some (more on that later in What I Learned). He wanted distance, not speed, and had a top speed of 10 mph in all. I would rate the trail mostly 'A' on the crushed limestone with some very small 'B' sections because they turned into an easy two lane track. Alanson's tarmac passes through Petoskey to Charlevoix were "A+". Even the stretches of road I used to create my route back to the start were perfectly acceptable: always a paved shoulder ranging from 6ft wide to 18″ and little traffic. I've never had a 15+ mile section between small towns or at least one gas station out of the way. Here are some details:
label 1: I started in Gaylord with 2 hours of light rain and a total of 50 miles until I reached Cheboygan, all on rails. Most of what I had done before was 45 miles. I stopped at Drost's on Indian River just down the street for some great Peanut Butter Moose Tracks, best ice cream I've ever had. In Cheboygan, the highlight of the evening was the beer flight at Cheboygan Brewery. My favorites were the Blood Honey Orange and the Dark Harbor. The ride along Mullet Lake had the best views.
Along Mullett Lake we went to Topinabee
“The best ice cream in Drost is on the Indian River Trail”
Flowers along the trail south of Cheboygan, MI
label 2: Every day 2-5 was sunny with a maximum of 70 degrees. 15 miles on the way to Mackinaw City and then took the Sheppler's Ferry to Mackinaw Island, a unique experience with just bikes and horses. He cycled a total of 15 miles, including the 8-mile road around the island. The gorgonzola salad and a mackinaw mule at the Pink Pony were big hits with me. My photos give you an idea of the island and the photo I took of the carriage and Grand Hotel was one of the best I've ever had. Back in Mackinaw City, I stayed at the small Lamplighter Motel, where the owner gave me a bigger room for free so I could easily put my bike in my room. Part of their hospitality is a bonfire where visitors can relax and enjoy themselves as the sun goes down around 10pm.
From a roadside park along the trail, you can see Mackinac Island across the water.
in the water
Arrival at Mackinac Island
the grand hotel
Photo thanks to a passerby.
No locks in use, it will be there
On the way around the island
label 3: Until now everything had gone well, but today it paid off. When I got up, my iPhone was dead, it was the tool that allowed me to walk on my own, but I left anyway after finding the Verizon store near where I would spend the night in Petoskey. I started with about 20 miles on a crushed limestone track and had a flat tire in a remote area. I solved it with green slime in the tube. Then about 20 miles on paved roads to Petoskey. Rum and raisin ice cream at the Kilwin Factory on the Wheelway and then a great burger and Short's Soft Parade Brew at the Mitchell Street Pub made for a great day. A special word about my stay at the Apple Tree Inn: reasonable rates, but free limousine service to and from downtown Petoskey, and a nice, simple breakfast buffet.
You cannot see this from your car.
Round lake from the track.
Kilwin started here making excellent rum and raisin ice cream, between Petoskey and Bay View.
label 4. The next 15 miles on the paved road along Little Traverse Bay through Bay Harbor to Charlevoix were the most beautiful part of the trip. After the trails ended, I took the highway and a ferry for 15 miles with some ups and downs to reach Boyne Falls. A happy hour margarita and appetizers were a great change of pace from dinner at Red Mesa, a must if you love Mexican food. I drove another 10 miles to Boyne Mountain for the night.
In Charlevoix – Lake Michigan links and Lake Charlevoix rechts
Image of Bay Harbor, the trail
Me and my Cruz bike on the Ironton Ferry
Boyne City in the distance on the shores of Lake Charlevoix
Blick vom fishing pier in Boyne town
Some of the best Mexican around
Label 5:I knew this would be my hardest day. Had to take Thumb Lake Road up and down the ridges for 15 miles. It was easier than I thought and the traffic on the street was light and polite. After stopping at Whippi Dip just north of Vanderbilt for a cold shower with a root beer float, I headed back to the North Central Trail for the easy eight-mile climb back to Gaylord. I ended the trip by stopping at Alpine Bicycle and thanking John for helping me fit my Cruz bike. My first multi-day ride ended at 205 miles.
A quaint barn as you make your way to Vanderbilt Hills
The peaks come and go
Thumb Lake, also known as Lake Louise, has three church camps, two are Methodist
My destination ice cream stop for a Friday root beer float on Old 27 north of Vanderbilt
My best hiking photo was taken on the road from Vanderbilt to Gaylord.
I learned: Carefully learned the following:
- Good planning pays off
- Next time, don't bring shoes or extra things to keep warm at night. Get comfortable and use less.
- Protect your phone from water and sweat
- Please bring an extra cell phone to activate in case you forgot number 3
- You can only experience the thrill of the descent if you are willing to pedal to the other side.
- vibration happens. Bring a spare hose with you.
- My Cruzbike does everything I plan to do
- I'd rather be with someone I love than be alone
- I got stronger every day, not weaker
- Maybe next year I'll see if I can play 18 holes five days in a row.
This week I was in the front row.