Day 80: Last Day Biking in Michigan

55.6 miles

Marcia and Darin's cat, Sadie

Marcia and Darin’s cat, Sadie (we forgot to get a photo of her humans)

Our bed at Marcia and Darin’s condo was super comfy so you can’t blame me for trying to sleep in.  Caroline actually got up before me for a change to work (or play?) on her laptop.  It rained overnight, but the weather forecast called for only a small chance of rain today.  Marcia and Darin had already left for work, so we used their kitchen to make breakfast before we got back on the rail trail out of Reed City.

To give you an idea of how flat the rail trail is, my maximum speed yesterday was 15.1 mph (our average speed was 11 mph).  Back in Connecticut when we were riding up and down steep hills, my max speed would be easily over 35, sometimes almost 40 mph for very steep downhills.  But on the rail trail?  Nothing of the kind.  It’s flat and mostly straight.  Not that I’m complaining too much.  The main downside is that the consistently flat terrain doesn’t give you much of a chance to stand up out of the saddle and rest your butt.

Today the rail trail started out paved, but quickly changed to crushed limestone.  We stopped in a small town called Baldwin, for donuts.  No surprise there, eh?  After that the rail trail ended and we were back out on regular roads.  The Adventure Cycling route was to the north of us.  Why it didn’t take advantage of all this flat rail trail west of Clare, I don’t know.  But we were on our own to get into Ludington.  We followed Google Maps navigation for part of it and we also had some directions from our Warm Showers host for the night, Claudia.

Box Turtle we saw crossing the road

Box Turtle we saw crossing the road

There are two main reasons we didn’t follow the ACA route for this section from Clare to Ludington.  First, we wanted to ride this rail trail to avoid roads with no shoulder and lots of traffic and second we’re taking a shortcut of about 15 miles.  That shortcut paid off today because we were tired and ready for a rest, but we wanted to push on to get into Ludington by 5 PM.  That allowed us to stop by the post office and pick up the package I ordered back in Bay City.  Now we are free to get on the once daily 8:30 AM ferry tomorrow to cross Lake Michigan.  If we hadn’t made it here by 5pm we would have had to go to the post office tomorrow and take the ferry on Sunday.  We had plenty of time to spare, but if we didn’t save those 15 miles it might have been very close indeed.

Claudia welcomed us into her home and we had dinner with her and her friend, Jean.  After dinner I opened my package and put my new saddle on my bike.  Caroline and I dug through our panniers for a few items we haven’t used yet on this trip to box up and send to my mom’s house.  It was nothing major, but any extra weight we can get rid of feels like a small victory.  I boxed up my old saddle along with these few items to be ready to drop off at the next post office we found.

Bull elk at elk farm

Bull elk at elk farm we passed

Looking ahead, we’ve decided that Mount Rushmore will be our next big milestone.  Hopefully we can get there before cold weather hits us.  Maybe by early to mid October?  In order to reach Mount Rushmore, we’ll head due west.  The Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route goes well north of where we want to be.  So if you’ve looked at the Northern Tier route to anticipate where we’ll be, I’m afraid that’s out the window.  Stay tuned for more details on our route west.

We ended the night by walking to a local ice creamery and filling up on yummy local ice cream.  A tasty last night in Michigan!

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