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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