Bicycle Diary: Michigander Days 2 & 3

Day 2
We rose on Monday to wet tents and cloudy skies. The ride from Gaylord to Bellaire, however, was fantastic. We made great time and ripped through 38 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Physically I felt tremendous and I had a new set of toeclips installed. What a difference! My quads were still a little achey but not enough to slow me down. We were on country roads and although that's not ideal, it was still a very fun ride.

Mentally I was in a state of zen on the ride. David Byrne's book continued to speak to me as the countryside moved by at bike speed. The mundane was no longer mundane, but rather exquisite.

First, Michigan is having a lush summer. As with the whole trip, there were seas of wildflowers. In a car, you would never think twice to look at them closely because you are speeding by. Perhaps some people just regard them as weeds along the roadside. Yet when I found myself surrounded by them, I took in the full spectrum of shapes and dazzling colors. The path to Bellaire was littered with signs advertising fresh berries, corn and eggs. There were many horse and dairy farms. We even got to see goats grazing. They are silly looking.

Something else that is mundane and you don't acknowledge unless you are on a bike are hills. I will get to those.

In Bellaire, everyone talked about how much they enjoyed the ride. We decided to go to Short's Brewery, where some of the finest Michigan craft beer is made. Needless to say I enjoyed it too much and paid for it the next day. Had Marisa not ordered me to drink water, I would not have survived the day's ride. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and missed the late night rainstorm by about a half hour. Our tents would be soaked again.

Day 3
The next day was very difficult for me. The trip from Bellaire to Harbor Springs was the longest ride at 55 miles and it took me about 5 and a half hours to complete. The first 20 or so miles were nasty uphill climbs. It is a fact that after this tour, one does not view hills the same way. No pictures do it justice and few words can explain the exhaustion after a long climb. Add to that the dehydration that comes with drinking too much, fatigue, and a swollen eye due to my camping pillow and it made for a rough morning. But my morning would get worse yet.

We decided to take a single track that was a shorter distance, but had a number of sandy patches. On the second or third patch, my tire turned left and I realized I was going down. I tried to brace myself with my left leg. The problem was that my left foot was in my toe clip and I was not used to them enough to realize I should have unclipped before barreling down a sand trap. My front tire turned left sharply and the handle bars jerked out of position. My face hit the sand (thank God for helmets). The icing on the cake was the throbbing pain that immediately got my attention. My right handle bar and brake smashed into my right thigh. I have a giant, gnarly bruise which will be ripe for posting on Friday :) I have been taking Motrins like candy to offset the fiery pain of the welt.

Marisa helped me adjust my handle bars and kept me calm. We got on our bikes and rode on. Sometimes you don't realize you have strength left until a friend helps you find it. And after falling and hurting myself in the first 5 miles of the day, she helped me ride 50 more.

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