Day 20 – Jackson to Brighton

There are two beautiful ladies waiting for me at home. And though it's now been three weeks since I've laid eyes on either of these lovely creatures, I wanted my last day on the road to linger.

Once I cleared Jackson eastbound in cool morning air, I called loved ones while rolling along quiet country lanes. I was then drawn to stop in the shade of grand Sugar Maples and chant the Three Refuges while looking upon a stand of dark green Norway Spruce set against the deep blue western sky.

The town of Grass Lake rolled up quickly. It's been a few years since I've been here and I was surprised at how well place cleans up. Rolling past the local diner, I noticed a familiar blue pickup truck parked in front. I stopped in for a quick visit with good buddy Ol' Danny Hovater.

Earlier I thought I'd stop in Chelsea for a good cup of coffee, but as the roads became more familiar I rolled right through. Dexter passed quickly and I entered Huron River Drive, the classic route for local cyclists and one I've pedaled hundreds of times.

I happily rolled this sun dappled asphalt ribbon winding through the cool woods, enjoying views of the river, as I approached my birthplace of Ann Arbor.

Soon I was riding north away from the river and into downtown floating up the steep climbs on Main and then Fourth streets.

I pulled up in front of home away from home Cafe Verde and was soon greeted by several friends including Deb and Sudo, both fellow cyclists. It felt comfortable to relax here and chat under the umbrella of one of the outdoor tables.

After sitting for a good, long time I was feeling the pull of home, only 18 miles away to the north. But first, a nap. I spread my beadroll in the shade at a nearby park and relaxed and snoozed for over an hour.

It was late afternoon when I set off on my usual, backroads way home. The long steep climb to the top of Sunset St. ranks right up there as one of the most challenging of my trip. Then a nice long coast down Newport Rd. before crossing the Huron north and another steep climb. This time up dirt Maple Rd.

As I strained up the last 100 feet of the grade in my granny gear, a flash of red caught my eye and I watched a young woman on a cyclocross bike hurtle past on Stein Rd. I wanted to meet this powerful fast rider and I poured on the coals. She was moving fast and it took all I had to close the gap as we skimmed over the dirt at 20 mph before I finally pulled along her side.

"Hey Jimmy!" My cousin Wendy, wearing her Team Kenda uniform astride her titanium bike, was surprised to see me as she rode home after work at her day job on an organic farm. "What's with all the gear?" It was nice riding together as I shared the story of my travels. But soon it was time for me to split off her route home, toward my home just 6 miles to the north.

Rounding the final curve, I stopped in the road in front of my house and quietly observed my local body of water,  South Ore Creek. Three muskrat dove for dinner as a duckling paddled nearby. Feeling gratitude for living in such beautiful surroundings, I snapped a few more photos before turning the bike up the final climb. Up my driveway. Home.

And my ladies. Kit Kat, the aloof one, walked right out the door past me as I first entered. Her displeasure at my absence was clear. Quickly Hershey appeared and immediately began circling me, rubbing her furry body against my shins. As soon I was settled she slid into my lap, purring contentment.

I intended to take one more sunset photo tonight, but I forgot that it gets dark a little earlier here inland than on the Lakes. When I arrived at Sunset Ridge, overlooking my local Maltby Lake, the sun had already slipped behind the trees, soft orange and pink hues of clouds and sky reflecting on the water.

This has been the journey of a lifetime. And a reflection of my life! What now? Settle in for a while. Enjoy time with my kids. Reconnect with friends. Work on my new Yoga business. Explore the natural beauty right here around me. Within me. Be still.

I'll keep this log active. Over the next week I'll post more stories of this journey. And over the months and years ahead I'll share more of my life.

Thank you for coming along on the ride! Jim

Asana of the day:
Uttanasana (Standing nose to knee)

Day 20 mileage: 67.36
Maximum speed: 34.9
Total trip mileage: 1,444!

Song stuck in my head:
The Distance by Cake

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Day 19 – South Haven to Jackson

"Just keep your shadow in front of you.." I kept telling myself this as I rode into the evening from Marshall to Jackson with no map. Eastward was all that mattered.

Eleven hours earlier I rolled my loaded bike out of my room at the Sand Castle Inn, took one last look at Lake Michigan, and found the Kal-Haven trailhead, two blocks away.

The Kal-Haven is paved in South Haven and follows the twisting Kalamazoo River. Soon thereafter it straightens out and the surface turns to crushed gravel. Running thirty three miles to Kalamazoo, this rail-to-trail is well traveled. I passed dozens of cyclists, including a couple from Port Huron who drove to Kalamazoo yesterday morning, then rode the trail to South Haven. After spending the night there, they were riding back to their car in Kalamazoo today.

The trail is well marked and there are numerous water pumps, picnic tables, and outhouses along the way. There was even one campsite with several fire rings especially for cyclists.

At the terminus of the Kal-Haven trail I jumped on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. On the trail map this looked like best way to get me through K'zoo eastbound. This trail is paved, in great shape, and fast. Once in the city though, it became disjointed and I wound up riding streets.

On the industrial eastern fringe of Kalamazoo, a good Samaritan named Chuck gave me great directions on secondary roads to Battle Creek.

The Battle Creek to Marshal leg was accomplished on Michigan Ave. the whole way. A straight shot, but with lots of traffic and no shade. As I rolled in to Marshall at 5:00 p.m. and 90 miles on the meter, my body felt strong, but my brain thought maybe it was time for a break.

I laid in the shade of the city circle and snoozed for exactly three fifteen minute increments. The town clock made sure of it. Then fifteen minutes of Yoga and I was rolling again. But just to the historic Stagecoach Inn for a bite. My diet today consisted of chocolate milk, walnuts, and a greasy piece of cheese that hasn't seen refrigeration since I bought it in Northport last week. I needed a change. A basket and a half of sweet potato fries did the trick. And soaking up some air conditioning felt mighty fine.

When I finally left Marshal at 7:00 it was still quite hot. Having no map, I remembered that many of the roads out here have letter names or mile names. I road north a bit then hopped on H drive and kept my shadow in front of me as I passed 21 Mile Rd., 22 Mile Rd….

I hoped to make it to the western edge of the Waterloo Recreation Area and camp my last night out. But it was dark when I arrived in Jackson, so I decided to once again get a hotel room for the night.

After 127 miles, I could have easily kept riding many more hours. The cool night air keeps this air cooled engine happy! I wonder how far I would have ridden if I'd left South Haven at 6:00 a.m. and if I'd cut short the stop in Marshal?

Tomorrow I'll ride familiar roads through Chelsea and Dexter before taking Huron River Drive into Ann Arbor for a late lunch. Then I'll head off on the dirt roads to the north and HOME!

I'd love to have you join me for part of the ride or lunch. Let me know!

In Peace, Jim

Asana of the day:
Ardha Matseyandrasan (Half Lord of the Fishes)

Day 19 mileage: 127.71
Maximum speed: 36.0
Total trip mileage: 1377

Song suck in my head:
I'm Going Home by Ten Years After (Live at Woodstock)

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Day 18 – Macatawa to South Haven

What a difference a day can make! After my first solid night's sleep in days, I happily pedaled south out of Holland. It turns out I could have easily made it to Saugatuk State Park last night on the brand new bike path I found myself on this morning. It may have even been closer than backtracking to the nearest hotel with a room available.

I felt cheery as I explored Saugatuk from the saddle of my trusty Nobilette. And as I made the 25 mile ride on quiet backroads to South Haven, I once again was laughing aloud with the beauty of it all. I sensed The Lake was near.

I was treated to more views of Lake Michigan in the last five miles to South Haven than I experienced all day yesterday. I even discovered a high bluff overlooking the water reminiscent of those near Elberta.

My plan was to take a quick dip, then head east toward home. But as I've said, "No itinerary, no set agenda, no attachments." So when I arrived at the beach I immediately decided to stay. I rode to familiar Sand Castle Inn and booked a room for the night.

With joy I slowed down and enjoyed this quaint town and its magnificent shore.

Well rested, I'll begin the journey home early tomorrow on the Kal-Haven trail.

Gratefully, Jim

Asana of the day:
Padmasana (Lotus)

Day 18 mileage: 37.16
Maximum speed: 24.8
Total trip mileage: 1249

Song stuck in my head:
Eight Miles High covered by Hüsker Dü

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Day 17 – Mears to Macatawa

The devil of dark thought appeared
Oily black stain spreading across my mind
How could he show his ugly face now
In this light journey
I invite him to ride next to me
Offering fruit and sips from my water bottle
Loving kindness to dispel hate
But today he sees my weakend state
And is not so easily dissolved in my resolve
Spear of fear jabs tender heart
His tenacity on this of all days
Brings me to tears of rage
Shifting gears I turn the cranks in anger
Exercise
Exorcise
I churn the cranks of anger

I imagined this last day and night on the coast would be quietly joyous, with perhaps a little melancholy. Bathing in The Lake and breaking camp early, I found myself laughing aloud as I passed effortlessly through the cool air.

Seven miles later in Silver Lake I lingered much longer than expected, wishing for even more time to write, then frustrated with technology's technicalities while logging the post of the previous day. I finally rolled out of town at noon.

The next forty miles to Whitehall came fast and furious. I rode with aggression. And on the old country lanes I experienced a range of strong emotions. Finally in this sparse space tears streamed and dissipated in warm, dry wind. Riding stronger with each mile, I rolled in to town after just two hours and 15 minutes.

More technology frustrations plus a trip to the grocer to replenish a dwindling food supply again kept me off the bike too long.

Frustration and other strong emotions affected me. I felt out of sorts. Lost. And for the first time this trip I found myself off course. Several times. Blowing past turns and not realizing it until miles after the fact. Backtracking. Rerouting. But as long as I was moving on the bike, these misdirections weren't bothersome. Just more miles. And with each passing mile I got stronger.

Still following the Shoreline Tour route I spent much of the day on roads with nice names like Lakeshore and Shoreline. But their namesake lie hidden by homes and industry. Unlike the rest of the journey, I only caught a few brief glimpses of The Lake all day. I kept churning. Yearning.

Riding through Muskegon was disorienting, like riding through any big city is for me. I sailed in to Holland with darkness setting in and found my way to the next Shoreline Drive. Sights set for Saugatuk State Park.

But to get there would require riding the Blue highway at night. Even with a powerful LED headlight and two LED taillights, I didn't like my chances out there. For the first night this trip, I resorted to Plan B.

Tonight my camp is a generic hotel a few miles from The Lake. Not what I envisioned for my last night before turning east.

So I've decided to treat myself with a little more lake time tomorrow. Coffee in Saugatuk. A nice long swim at the expansive, white sand beach in South Haven.

I'll then turn eastward on the Kal-Haven trail to Kalamazoo. Not knowing my route from there, I'll thread my way home, road by road, town by town, breath by breath.

Peace, Jim

Asana of the day:
Balasana  (Child's pose)

Day 17 mileage: 117.26
Maximum speed: 32.6
Total trip mileage: 1212

Song stuck in my head:
Hurt covered by Johnny Cash

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Day 17 – Mears to Macatawa

The devil of dark thought appeared
Oily black stain spreading across my mind
How could he show his ugly face now
In this light journey
I invite him to ride next to me
Offering fruit and sips from my water bottle
Loving kindness to dispel hate
But today he sees my weakend state
And is not so easily dissolved in my resolve
Spear of fear jabs tender heart
His tenacity on this of all days
Brings me to tears of rage
Shifting gears I turn the cranks in anger
Exercise
Exorcise
I churn the cranks of anger

I imagined this last day and night on the coast would be quietly joyous, with perhaps a little melancholy. Bathing in The Lake and breaking camp early, I found myself laughing aloud as I passed effortlessly through the cool air.

Seven miles later in Silver Lake I lingered much longer than expected, wishing for even more time to write, then frustrated with technology's technicalities while logging the post of the previous day. I finally rolled out of town at noon.

The next forty miles to Whitehall came fast and furious. I rode with aggression. And on the old country lanes I experienced a range of strong emotions. Finally in this sparse space tears streamed and dissipated in warm, dry wind. Riding stronger with each mile, I rolled in to town after just two hours and 15 minutes.

More technology frustrations plus a trip to the grocer to replenish a dwindling food supply again kept me off the bike too long.

Frustration and other strong emotions affected me. I felt out of sorts. Lost. And for the first time this trip I found myself off course. Several times. Blowing past turns and not realizing it until miles after the fact. Backtracking. Rerouting. But as long as I was moving on the bike, these misdirections weren't bothersome. Just more miles. And with each passing mile I got stronger.

Still following the Shoreline Tour route I spent much of the day on roads with nice names like Lakeshore and Shoreline. But their namesake lie hidden by homes and industry. Unlike the rest of the journey, I only caught a few brief glimpses of The Lake all day. I kept churning. Yearning.

Riding through Muskegon was disorienting, like riding through any big city is for me. I sailed in to Holland with darkness setting in and found my way to the next Shoreline Drive. Sights set for Saugatuk State Park.

But to get there would require riding the Blue highway at night. Even with a powerful LED headlight and two LED taillights, I didn't like my chances out there. For the first night this trip, I resorted to Plan B.

Tonight my camp is a generic hotel a few miles from The Lake. Not what I envisioned for my last night before turning east.

So I've decided to treat myself with a little more lake time tomorrow. Coffee in Saugatuk. A nice long swim at the expansive, white sand beach in South Haven.

I'll then turn eastward on the Kal-Haven trail to Kalamazoo. Not knowing my route from there, I'll thread my way home, road by road, town by town, breath by breath.

Peace, Jim

Asana of the day:
Balasana  (Child's pose)

Day 17 mileage: 117.26
Maximum speed: 32.6
Total trip mileage: 1212

Song stuck in my head:
Hurt covered by Johnny Cash

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Day 16 – Elberta to Mears

I'm being torn in half. I roll down the west coast of the Mitten, the northwoods whispering, "Come back". Home pulls hard from the south.

Timmo rode to Manistee with me, starting from our camps on the Elberta beach and straight up the wall of a road to the town of Elberta. This good morning climb was a few hundred yards long and steep. Climbing out of the saddle on my heavily laden bike, my tires broke grip with the pavement several times.

After breakfast in Elberta we immediately set off up a winding mile plus long climb. The first of many between here and Arcadia, all with equally long, winding descents. Wheeee!

These roads were mostly wooded and pleasantly shaded. And when Lake Michigan was visible, the views from the high dune forest bluffs were breathtaking.

The long, serpentine descent into Arcadia was fast and fun, challenging us with multiple high speed S curves.

Then things changed. The land flattened. Space widened from the protective shade of close forest to wide vistas of gently rolling farm fields. I felt exposed.

Manistee was a shock to my system.  Instead of riding in to the city on the "pretty" route we rode straight in on M-22, here a gritty highway, not the forest scented path I knew to the north. The air here was not as soft, but had a distinct harshness. I noticed a tightness in my belly. My lungs less at ease, shying away from inhaling deeply.

It was a pleasant surprise to run into Robert at the grocer. He had arrived a little while before us, ready to give Timmo a lift back to Traverse City. After we shared two quarts of local chocolate milk, drunk straight out of glass bottles, we said our farewells and parted company.

It was tempting to stay right there and hide from the midday heat at the beach, but I needed to roll. The miles piled up slow and easy. And for the first time during this mostly solitary adventure, I felt lonely.

When I arrived in Ludington late afternoon, I was baked. At the city beach I hung gear, still wet from last night's heavy dew, to dry. I sprawled on the cool grass in the shade of a grand maple. Then I was drawn to the cool, clear water of The Lake. After an hour long break, I was ready to ride into the cooler evening air.

I rolled through Pentwater, stopping just long enough on Longbridge Road to snap a photo of the sun setting behind Pentwater Lake. I hung my hammock between two elegantly curved cedars reaching out and up over yet another white sand Lake Michigan beach as the last crimson clouds faded to deep purple.

Tomorrow marks my last day of following the shoreline, before turning left the following day. I don't know how far I'll get, I just know I'll breath in every moment with gratitude.

Smitten with the Mitten, Jim

Asana of the day:
Savasana (Corpse pose)

Day 16 mileage: 98.31
Maximum speed: 36.9
Total trip mileage: 1095

Song stuck in my head:
Helpless by Neil Young

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Day 15 – Leland to Elberta

The Leelanau Peninsula is magical. I'm glad I gave myself plenty of time up there. I was out of my lakeside camp in the cedars and in the town of Leland early this morning. Seated outside at a cafe, breakfast consisted of an Americano supplemented with salami and goat cheese purchased in Northport the day before. I studied maps and read a few more chapters of The Girl With The Glass Feet as the town woke up. Dozens of cyclists rolled past, either solo, or as part of Sunday morning group rides.

Cycling Mecca up here. Grand views from mostly wide, smooth shoulders of M-22 following the coast. About as close to Heaven on Earth as you can get, I imagine. Too bad for the cars.

The previous day I wondered, "Where's everyone going? And what's the hurry?" as I moved in a much slower space, every moment feeling like I was right where I wanted to be.

Today I realized how noisy cars are. I mean all cars, not just ones with loud exhausts. When I was alone on these thickly forested roads, the woods came alive with the songs of birds and trees. The songs were always quickly deadened to my ears by the approaching sound of four tires with wide contact patches gripping hot tarmac. Gleaming grills punching gaping holes through soft air, striving for the next place to stop.

Breathing and smiling, with every stroke of the pedal, I was happy right where I was. Just this. Just now.

An iced coffee in Glen Arbor. Swimming and washing jerseys in Lake Michigan at the crowded beach in Empire.

Continuing south, I was met with the smiling face of Timmo. He got a lift from friend Robert and joined me for the final miles of the day on his Waterford road bike. After riding solo for two weeks, this felt nice and comfortable.

Tonight Timmo sleeps in his tent on the beach, 10 feet from the water. I've hung my hammock between two cedars halfway up the steep bluff of this surreal beach forest.

Tomorrow Timmo will ride with me to Manistee before tracking back home. I continue south.

Breathing and smiling, Jim

Asana of the day:
Trikosan (Triangle)

Day 15 mileage: 67.79
Maximum speed: 33.1
Total trip mileage: 996

Song stuck in my head:
Ain't No Telling by Jimi Hendrix

Day 14 – Suttons Bay to Leland

Whoomp! I was startled awake when the first gust of wind broadsided my hammock in the early morning darkness. A front was moving through and my campsite on the beach was exposed to the brunt of gale force winds and rain.

I was pleased to be warm and dry after a half hour. But there would be no more sleep with wildly flapping rainfly  and buffeted hammock. So when a break in the rain came, I dropped the hammock and moved it inland 60 feet or so to the leeward side of a squat Cedar. Once nestled back in my now calm cocoon, I slept well into morning and awoke after the rain had ended.

By late morning it was sunny and much cooler than the previous days. The light was clear as only in the north and the water had taken on a deeper

As I continued pedaling up the east coast of the Leelanau Peninsula, into a cool wind from the north, I had a solid sense of well being.

The only way to describe how I feel is that my cells are singing! I am vibrating with a high frequency attuned with seeing clear light, breathing rich air, immersing in clean, cold water, and moving with ease across the earth under my own power. Mostly in silence.

The miles came slowly today as I spent time enjoying the small towns along the way.  At the tip of the peninsula, the lighthouse stood strong and ready.

This evening, instead of riding late and stopping only when I had found a campsite, I found a lovely one in the cedars on Lake Leelanau. After bathing in the lake, I pedaled into Leeland, bought some provisions and had dinner at the Blue Bird restaurant. I got back to camp just as the sun was setting over Lake Leelanau.

And now the lake lulls me to sleep, Jim

Asana of the day:
(Cobbler's)

Day 14 mileage: 53.04
Max. speed: 29.4
Total trip mileage: 928

Song stuck in my head:
Santa Monica by Everclear

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Day 14 – Norwood to Suttons Bay

Facing east with my hammock hung on the shore of Suttons Bay, I enjoy the subtle colors of dusk as the sun sets over the trees behind me.

Another good day in the saddle. Thanks again to George for use of the Shoreline Tour map book, which kept me on scenic, less traveled roads like Old Dixie Highway out of Norwood and the road around Torch Lake.

The order of the day was to keep from overheating. Stopping to swim in Elk Rapids and Traverse City helped.

My favorite old Sugiuo cycling bib shorts finally gave up the ghost (You were right, Jac!) so I stopped at Brick Wheels bike shop in Traverse City and picked up a snazzy new pair by Pearl Izumi.

By the time I got to Traverse, I was past due for a break from riding and the heat. It was great to catch up with my friend Lindy at her newly relocated Seed Studio Gallery downtown.

A couple doors down from Seed is the T.A.R.T. (Traverse Area Rail Trail) office, so I popped in there to see Bob-Lo friend Lee. She was glad to hear I was able to make use of some of the trails she has worked on.

Then I stopped by Kaye's place to rest up a little and let the heat recede into evening before riding north onto the Leelanau Peninsula. Kaye raced bicycles while in Ann Arbor 30 years ago and our paths crossed many times.

Riding the east coast of the peninsula during the early evening was much cooler than the rest of the day and I made it to this site at dusk.

Good night, Jim

Asana of the day:
Paschimotasana (seated head to knee)

Day 14 mileage: 86.27
Maximum speed: 36.2
Total trip mileage: 874

Song stuck in my head:
Burn by Deep Purple

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