Sunday, August 17, 2014

Little Lakes and Big: First Ride of the new Michigan Perm Pop

Over the last couple of years, when we visit up in Michigan, I bring my bike.  I finally developed a 200k perm, and more recently, a 100k perm, because I can only ride around the lake so many times.

My development process for the 100k was to have a vague idea of where I wanted to ride, then rummage around on Ride With GPS and the Strava Heatmap, to see the roads which cyclists preferred.  I'd try to use Google Street View, but it is sufficiently remote up here that anything other than major roads is not yet visited by the Google cameras.

So I created a plausible route and got it approved.  No one had yet signed up to ride it (amazingly enough, I am NOT the only rider on my 200k), so I would be the first rider.  I have driven the route as far south as Onekama, and know the stretch from Beulah around the lake to Frankfort quite well.  However, Onekama to Beulah would be all new.

Rode into town, and got my start proof of passage at the EZ Mart C-store.  This is the c-store of choice all around here.

Frankfort Perm Pop start

Headed south on M-22, aka USBR 35.  Lake Michigan was on my right somewhere over there.  Headed south through Elberta, and promptly started climbing.  It is hilly along the Lake Michigan shore.  Chugged up a couple of long ones, with respectably painful grades.  At the top of the second climb, I saw some bike tourists pulled over.  They had a trailer, so I expect they were recomposing at the top.  They cheered me on and gave me a very appreciated mist of water.

Passed through Arcadia (up and down), over Arcadia Lake (pretty; camera battery chose today to not be with me), up again, past the golf course, and finally, came to the Lake Michigan overlook.  So pretty.

Lake Michigan overlook, north of Onekama

Down again; surely I'd get to Onekama soon.  No, more up and down.  Did I mention the headwind? 

Finally I was there.  Found the ice cream shop, and enjoyed a scoop in a waffle cone.
Ice Cream control in Onekama, with identifying True Value Hardware in the background

Off to find Bear Lake, the second on-course control.  Note: there is an EZ-Mart on the corner where one turns onto 5th to go to Bear Lake.  Of course, it was a climb up :-)  then rolling through farmland, and eventually turning east for the last mile or so to Bear Lake.  Stopped at the EZ-Mart.  They had V8, which made me very happy.  It was hot and more humid than I am used to.

Bear Lake control (blow up to read the sign :-) )

The ride on Hwy 31 through Bear Lake was happily uneventful - it is a very busy highway closer to Traverse City - and turning left to ride along the lake was a delight.  Lots of cottages and people recreating in the lake.

The road then turns north, and rolls along for quite a while.  Then I got to where the road crossed Glover's Lane and... it wasn't paved.  Up here, not paved usually means sand.  Well, ok, it can't be that way for very long.  So I kept going, and it wasn't too bad for the first mile or so.  Hard packed, I could ride it.  Then it started washing out.  So I'd walk for awhile, and when it firmed up, I'd ride until I couldn't.
Imagine my surprise. Reroute is already designed.

Surely it would be paved around the corner.  After that... surely it would be paved at Taylor Rd.  Surely it would be paved at the next road...  And finally, it was paved.

As soon as I made the turn, I encountered a group of cyclists chugging up the other way.   We stopped and chatted briefly, then continued on our respective ways.  Getting hotter.  Time was getting short, too.  Would I make it to Beulah in time?

The terrain continued to be quite rolling.  Also quite pretty - farms.  Lots of blueberries and corn and roadside fruit stands.  But would I make the next control in time?  Finally I summitted, and enjoyed the precipitous descent to River Rd (16%.  Nice!)  Once I was at River Rd, I knew exactly where I was, and headed over to pick up the Betsie River Trail into Beulah.  But would I make it in time?  There might have been some flying low on the trail, and I entered Beulah with 10 minutes to spare.  Whew.

Got a bagel and cream cheese at the deli, and maybe spent a few more minutes than I should have, eating it.  15 more miles to go, all flat but for the climb out of the Crystal Lake Watershed - four big rollers.

I had had a unidirectional headwind the whole time, and it didn't let up for the 10 mile stretch along the north shore of Crystal Lake.  Sigh.  But once I made the turn south, the tailwind kicked in.

Past our cottage and one info control to make sure I rode around the lake :-) then over the big rollers.  I know exactly how long it takes me to ride into town, and knew I'd make it, so I backed off a bit.

Finished back in Frankfort.  Betsie Lake in the background

Finished at the EZ-Mart, then texted Fitz to see where he was.  I was planning to get another ice cream cone over at the Kool Spot in town, but he was headed for the beach.  Well, I could just as easily get an ice cream cone at the Crystal View at the beach, plus dunk my hot and sticky self in the lake.

So I turned around and rode back north, over those rollers again, then coasted down to the beach, parked the bike, got an ice cream, and joined everyone on the beach.

Aftermath, part 1.  Ride bike back to the Assembly Beach.  Fitz's bike in the background

Aftermath, part 2: dish of ice cream, then a dunk in the lake.

The lake was wonderful.  And the reroute is already scoped out.

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