"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)