Category Archives: May 2012 Bike Trips – 8 days, 50 towns

My preparation for the “500 at 50” bike trip, consisting of bike trips around mid-Michigan, with a goal of visiting 50 towns in May.

Seating Arrangements

MY BUTT FEELS BETTER ALREADY.  My first “tour ride” of May, visiting Britton, Dundee, and Milan on Wednesday afternoon, was about 50 miles round trip from my office in Saline. The good news: the weather was perfect, and I found some excellent pizza in downtown Dundee. The bad news: after about 30 miles I felt every bump in the road, and the road from Milan back to Saline is full of bumps. In addition to a stiff neck and chafed thighs, I had pain where no man ever wants to have pain. With tour ride #2 starting Friday and running through Sunday for over 200 miles, something clearly needed changing.

Fortunately Rafael at Two Wheel Tango was available to figure out my problem. After taking some measurements and evaluating my riding position, he found two issues – my saddle was too high, and my handlebars were too low. As a result my weight was too far forward, putting pressure on the soft tissue and groin nerves instead of the “sit bones” which are supposed to provide support during a distance ride. A few adjustments later, I was riding much more comfortably. He also told me to relax my shoulders (there they are again, too high!), which will help alleviate the neck stiffness.

I was going to post some photos from my first tour, but ran out of time. Got to get to bed, as I’m heading out early in the morning. First stop is Chelsea, on the way to Leslie, Eaton Rapids, Charlotte, Grand Ledge, and other towns in the Lansing area, before heading back east to Howell, Brighton, and final stops in Pinckney, Hell (naturally), and Dexter. Stories and pictures when I return on Sunday.

Okay, I snuck in one photo. (Milan Bakery)

May “50 Towns” Bike Tour #2 Complete

My first long weekend tour of the month is complete, and quite a weekend it was. Details and more pictures and conversation to follow, but here are some quick summary stats.

  • Friday: 106 miles, 7 towns (Chelsea, Stockbridge, Leslie, Eaton Rapids, Charlotte, Potterville (Mmm…gizzards!), Grand Ledge
  • Saturday: 72 miles, 7 towns (Dimondale, Mason, Dansville, Williamston, Webberville, Fowlerville, Howell)
  • Sunday: 44 miles, 4 towns (Brighton, Pinckney, Hell, Dexter)

Had to cut Perry due to rain delay. Next time!

Total so far: 2 trips, 255 miles, 21 towns. Next trip: Tuesday, May 15.

Bike Weekend: More Small-Town Adventures

BIKE TRIP #3 is complete! Three days, 280 miles, 26 towns visited, and many good stories to tell. Click any of the maps below to expand the view and see which towns I visited on which day.

Friday, May 18

Saturday, May 19

Sunday, May 20






Here are a few tidbits while I’m writing up the details:

  • Friday: Where is this couple from, and what are they doing in a small town in Michigan?
  • Saturday: What does this woman do when she’s not supporting the Union Army? (You’ll never guess. Trust me.)
  • Sunday: Why is this firefighter wearing pink?

Is that enough to pique your interest? Hope you’ll stay tuned to see and hear more!

May Goal Accomplished, and Trip #4 Highlights

WHAT BETTER PLACE TO CAP OFF MY MAY BIKE GOAL than the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area where we camp many times each summer? The village of Honor was town #50, with lunch at Papa J’s Pizzeria, the same place I celebrated my first-ever “century ride” (100 miles in one day) in September 2010. Saturday’s ride was 35 miles and four towns, a short, relaxed experience following two three-day weekends averaging 80+ miles and seven towns per day.

I unfortunately left my notes from trips #2 and #3 at home, so I’ll skip right to Saturday’s adventure and post the others later. However, I will honor (pun intended) my promise to show you what I purchased at the firefighter benefit for breast cancer in Clinton last weekend. The photo is at the end of this post.


The Cherry Hut on M31 is the best known tourist attraction in Beulah but I think it’s a bit too touristy and overrated, so I went to the Phoenix Cafe downtown instead. They had a good latte and ginger scone, and there was a lively group outside that appeared to be a family get-together. I wasn’t sure how to approach them, so I went to find the Betsie Valley Trailway which would take me to Elberta and Frankfort. As I prepared to get on it, I reminded myself that one purpose of touring the small towns this month was to talk to local people about life and such. So go get the story, I told myself, returned to the cafe, and introduced myself to the group, who were very welcoming and began telling me stories immediately. Here are some of the highlights (photos from left to right, click to enlarge):

  • This lady, who everyone called “Aunt Mary”, has had a summer home on Crystal Lake since the 1930s. There was a time, she told me, that she knew everyone in town, and everyone knew her. She leaves that duty to her son now.
  • Jae (center of photo) once cycled Highway 1 from Los Angeles to Portland. Today she’s the manager at Sunseed Farm in the Ann Arbor area, just a few miles from my house. (When we got to talking about the local roads, someone said, “My God, they speak the same language.”) Sunseed Farm participates in the Community Supported Agriculture program, which means you can purchase “shares” and get fresh produce on a weekly basis.
  • Phil is so well known and popular that he receives the “Norm from Cheers” greeting when he walks into his favorite tavern.
  • I was invited up to a gazebo on their property that has a panoramic view of the lake. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can get the idea.


“Elberta isn’t what it used to be,” a fellow cyclist told me when I arrived there, and indeed there wasn’t much to it. But Elberta is home to the Conundrum Cafe, a coffee shop/deli/novelty store run by Rob and Michele Cannaert. They also rent and service bikes – very useful to know, since bike shops are few and far between in this area. Rob looked somewhat disappointed when he asked if my bike needed anything and I told him everything was working fine. They told me that they get a lot of bike traffic through the area, due to the trailway and that their stretch of M-22 is part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. And indeed, there were two other bikes parked outside the cafe, and I saw many other cyclists all during the ride.


My future Ironman partner (left) and her daughter.

Saturday is Farmer’s Market Day in Frankfort. While it more resembles a crafts and baked goods market than farm produce, I wasn’t going to complain, especially when I found Jeri and Jeannie’s booth with homemade cookies and scones. Alas, chocolate chip was not among the scones offered, which still leaves Eaton Rapids as the only place I’ve found them this year. But Jeannie told me they make scones to order with advance notice. So I will be back in July.

Jeri, 66, swims for two hours every morning. I told her we’d have to team up and do a triathlon together – she’ll do the swimming, and I’ll do the running and cycling parts.


Linda (left) and Jama – making time in their very busy lives to support their cousin in need.

I wasn’t sure I’d get a story in Honor, disappointing given it was the 50th town. But nothing much was going on at Papa J’s, nor at JoMo’s, where a stop for a root beer float after a long ride is a tradition with me. As I was about to give up and head back to camp, I passed the fire station, where a “Yard Sale” sign was posted and a man and two little girls were waving at traffic. Now I’d been seeing yard sale and garage sale signs all morning (’tis the season) but a sale that motivated that kind of behavior just had to be checked out. Well, for the second week in a row, I found a fire station assisting with a cancer benefit, hosting a combination yard sale, bake sale, and raffle. Proceeds were going to support Susan Volpe-Lemon, who is undergoing experimental treatment for ovarian cancer without much help from insurance. Linda and Jama are cousins of Susan who came up here to support the sale. Linda in particular has other issues to deal with, including a house that burned down and raising eight-year old twins by herself, but she found the time to come up from Grand Rapids and help raise money for Susan’s fight. This is a family with a lot of courage, folks.

And regarding the other fire station benefit…

Clinton (Last Sunday)

So exactly what am I doing in this shirt? Supporting a good cause, of course. You can read more about it at my post on the subject.