Continuing the story of my “500 at 50” bike trip from home to our campground…
Day Two – Never Ask the Locals
A promising start out of Alma on Wednesday nearly turned to disaster. I stopped at a gas station for a Gatorade, and the attendant gave me an alternate route to Mt. Pleasant that avoided several miles of dirt road. But somewhere or other, I missed a turn north and was soon headed straight for Lake Michigan, with a lot of nothing in between. Another cyclist turned me around, but I’d added over 10 miles to my planned distance that day and lost an hour off my timetable.
Things picked up in Farwell, where I had a great western scramble at Deb & Jessie’s Diner and then got on the Pere Marquette bike trail, which is a real joy to ride. All the way to Reed City the trail is 10-foot wide smooth asphalt, passing through forests and fields, with no cars or trucks to worry about. All that remained was the leg up north to Cadillac along the White Pines State Park trail, which the attendant at the Reed City gas station assured me was paved. (You can guess what’s coming.)
The same attendant gave me directions to the trail, which I either didn’t follow correctly or were wrong to start with. A chat with a guy in his front yard at least got me back to the Pere Marquette trail, where I found some other cyclists who showed me the White Pines trailhead. Off I went…for about a quarter mile, when the trail turned into dirt and loose gravel. After fighting it for a couple of miles I turned off the trail into Ashton. “I’d get back on the trail,” the guy at the general store said. “Ya got about a mile and a half and it’s paved again.”
Four miles later, still sliding and bumping over gravel with 20 miles left to go, I was cursing that guy, the gas station attendants, and the universe in general (*) when the promised pavement finally appeared. From there it was another pleasant cruise into downtown Cadillac and Hermann’s Hotel, arriving just after 8:00.
Dinner at the adjacent cafe/restaurant more than made up for the struggles of that day, and the elegant hotel room was far more than I would expect for $72.00 per night. (You can read my TripAdvisor review here.)
(*) Part of the confusion of the day turned out to be that the “Mackinaw Trail” on my Google Map turned out to be a road, not a bike trail. So the locals were less at fault than I had thought. On the other hand, one of them could have pointed out that fact…