Executive summary: it is still there
After taking July off, it was time to start the next R-12 cycle. Being in Michigan, and there being only one 200k perm in the area (another in the design phase), well, it was off to the lighthouse again.
Fitz was golfing somewhere between Glen Arbor and Leland last Monday, and he thought that would be a great day for me to ride. Fortunately, the weather cooperated.
Rode the familiar 3 miles into town, and over to Glen's Market for the start. We were out of trash bags (trash pickup is two days a week, and it has to be in the official bag), so I bought a few more. I'd drop them off on my way out.
7am, and off. The best picture of the day that I did not take was heading up the biggest roller out of town - I looked up and saw two deer silhouetted against the sky, as they crossed the road. I did stop to get a sunrise picture at the Assembly Beach, dropped off the trash bags, and continued north.
This was a good ride for wildlife spotting - besides the deer at the beginning, I saw several more, and had to ride carefully to avoid a couple of collisions. Also a squirrel, which was aiming for my front wheel, and several flocks of wild turkeys. It is amusing to see the turkey heads poking up from the tall growth in fields.
First, up and over Sutter Road. The pavement is still pretty cracked, but there were bits of what seemed to be smooth patch. There was a stop by the Platte River rafting folks - construction had closed one lane over the bridge, and we had to wait for the traffic light. Then the rolling climbs up and over to Empire, and, of course, the Empire Dome of Mystery. (see the picture text below for the mystery revealed)
I continued on to Glen Arbor, had a brief pause, and then on to Leland. This is the longest stretch of the ride with farms, homes, and not much else. Well, views of Lakes Michigan and Leelanau, from time to time. Last year I was delayed by construction and a flagger who wasn't going to let me ride through. This year, no construction, and the new pavement is wonderful. This stretch also yielded the first sighting of a USBR35 sign!
I had planned to get a sandwich in Leland, so pulled over at a deli right in town. Ate my sandwich outside, and watched a local boy on a bike stop and very closely inspect my bike. Bikes up here are either mountain bikes, cruisers, the occasional fully-loaded tourer, or fairly high-zoot road bikes. Not rando bikes with luggage.
Next, the lumpiest part of the route - Leland to Northport. Only 11 miles, but... yeah. Biggest climb of the route - 280 feet over 6 miles. Starting to get hot and sticky as well, as the route went away from the coast to cross over the Leelanau Peninsula to the east side. Whoof. Finally into Northport. I didn't stop, but continued through town (it is picturesque), and northward to the state park and lighthouse. There is a shady stretch along Northport Bay, before heading inland to the tip of the peninsula.
Arrived at the park, left my bike in the rack (you can't take it any further to the lighthouse), and went into the gift shop to get a Coke and a RUBBER STAMP on my card. Parks which have a passport type program are really good for this. Sat on a bench in the shade, sucked down the Coke, refilled my bottles, and headed back.
Didn't stop in Northport. The climb out is steeper than the climb in - 280 feet over 3 miles. The wind was supposed to be from the north by this time of day, but I didn't feel it here.
Eventually got back to Leland, where I stopped at the Mercantile and picked up various food objects to consume on the sidewalk. Some golfer guy found me there, chatted for a few, then went off to find real food and something other than the sidewalk to sit on. I finished the yogurt and Red Bull, stashed the banana for later, refilled bottles, and continued on.
Arrived in Glen Arbor, and fruitlessly roamed the C-store for V8. None, but I had my emergency stash, and drank it. Only 30 more miles to go. Hot and sticky.
I do like riding over the causeway between the Glen Lakes. I should have stopped and dunked myself in the lake! The tailwind showed up from time to time, and not too much longer, I was in Empire.
Perhaps I spent a bit more time there than I should have. I was enjoying a cold drink and some snacks, and a guy who wasn't in a hurry to start his run wanted to talk about my bike. I also gave him a quick tutorial on one of the running apps, because he didn't know how to get it started. Plus, there was that climb...
I spun my way up, went up and down the next two shorter grades, then slogged on south. Finally started to see the "local" landmarks - the Manitou Fine Northwoods Dining, where someone would encounter a famous golf course designer a few nights hence, then, finally, the climb up Sutter Rd.
Now it was just a matter of zipping along M-22 into town, with those few big rollers to get over. Dinged the bell as I rode by the cottage, but didn't see Fitz on the screen porch.
Over the hills, into town, and made a beeline for Stormcloud Brewing, the new (and only) brewpub in town.
Scored a glass of mead (they have cider on the menu, but are always out of it), paid for it on the spot (receipt!), then wandered out to the patio and shared a table with some folks passing through town. Called Fitz, and he joined us. Pizza and salad. And some delightful dinner companions.