Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hellacious Hills and locking a bike to a Wasp Nest

Pretty beach where we swam the day before the ride began in Harbor Springs

Patio dining with my ride compadres

Waterfall along trail first day

Rest stop overlooking Little Traverse Bay

Old Odawa church and graveyard

Our pathway for the first 28 miles: Easy and beautiful at every turn.

Next 30 miles, not so easy Huge hills that this photo doesn't show correctly
We drove up north with a sense of excitement for our upcoming adventure. One of the moms had done the two day version of the ride: one day head east from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs and the next day, head back. She shared our tent and the 3 of us had a great time for the next 24 hours or so. My other friend had flown all the way from CA to share this adventure. And what an adventure this was!

Lake Michigan was cold but refreshing to swim in. We later ate dinner on a cute patio (Turkeys) and drank the first beer of many on the ride. I tried to drink a local brew each night. Now a week  later, their names all swim together.  But I remember  Short's Nicey-Spicey in Bellaire and Mackinaw's Beaver Killer (as if biking hadn't done in my beaver already) in Mackinaw City and Legg's Inn IPA in Cross Village.

Surprisingly, despite the 'surround sound' of excited bikers, I slept well and awoke early to guzzle a huge cup of gourmet coffee, ready at 5:30 at dawn to survey the situation alone. The first 28 miles just zipped away: beautiful sunshine, water, trees, beach, etc. We stopped frequently to enjoy the view and hydrate. In Charlevoix, I had a delicious  just oozing with cherries scone and the mom parted company. Somehow not long later, we missed a turn adding a mile or more to a very long day. We had to head inland, which I knew going into it, would be up hill. I also had done this very same ride backwards with Naomi years ago but somehow I forgot just how steep the hills were. Two steps backward, one step forward. We'd go down scary steep hills (35 mph) and immediately a wall would appear before us. I walked some of them. First time in a Michigander (there was nothing walk worthy last year). But I was not alone. By this time, the sun was quite hot and there was little shade. Almost 30 miles of this and we were getting tired. Blue skies; black thoughts. It also was time for lunch but as it was Sunday, almost everything was closed.

We went to a time worn bar. A single waitress was surprised by lots of bicyclists but did pretty well given her chore. The bar was protected by metal poles capped by cement (newest technology seems to be the fender destroying 11 inch tall concrete blocks). The pole I locked the bikes to was missing the cement cap and I noticed a few wasps flying around. I assumed they were interested in the nearby garbage that had spilled to the ground. Wasps scouting for food are annoying but harmless: wasps defending home territory are not. My friend was stung retrieving the water bottles. Meanwhile I faced the task of unlocking the bikes with my face inches to the wasps nest (in the very pole the bikes were attached to). What to do? Using my plate, I blocked the entrance and more importantly the exit) to the nest and just hoped the plate was flush enough not to have wasp sized openings. Shaking, I fairly adeptly unlocked the bikes and gingerly moved them. Unfortunately some wasps appeared from their food scouting puzzled about why they couldn't get home. They were momentarily distracted by food bits on my plate. How much did I want to retrieve the plate? I imagined a group amassing on the backside of the plate ready to wreak revenge but moved it without incident.

Less hills from then on but we were tired and crabby. In another little town, we took an ice cream break. We were told there that we could avoid a 'big ass hill' by taking the highway. There was also an unpaved shortcut which riders told me later was pure sand. The highway was busy and a construction zone and had no directions on it. Fortunately a high schooler knew where the high school was. It was very hard to get motivated to set up the tent in the broiling heat. We just collapsed in the air conditioned school. In the shower. I noticed that some of my fellow bicyclists had what I call Bicyclist's Vasculitis, the angry purple red rash on their thighs. Somehow I was spared this time. They were puzzled. One assumed it was a flare-up of poison ivy (though this does NOT itch).

Bellaire is a cute town with Victorian B&Bs. It also has the now famous Short's Brewery (which was new when Naomi and I went there years ago). My friend's friend now lives nearby and picked us up for a nice treat and took us there. A nice night.

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