Tag Archives: bike trips

500 at 50 – The Return Trip

Day One – Gloves, Wallets, and Mushrooms

I decided to add an extra half day to my return trip for several reasons. While I’d made the trip up in three days, they had been long days, and I wanted some time to unpack and relax on Sunday. I also didn’t feel like tackling all the hills from the campground to Cadillac in one day. But mainly, I wanted more time to stop, look around, and talk to people. That was, after all, a major objective of this trip, not just to get there and back, but to enjoy the experience – to have an adventure, and see what was to see along the way.

Taking time: Chatting with some folks at Cravingz in Stockbridge about biking, camping, and quantum field fluctuations.

Mesick was a logical first stop. Just 44 miles away, I could start in the afternoon, and I’d get many tough hills out of the way without exhausting myself. The Mushroom Cap Motel had a room for only $50.00. We’d passed by it in the car for 20 years; now it was time to try it out.

My wife blamed the elves.

The return did not start auspiciously. I got all packed, filled the water bottles, said goodbyes, put on my helmet and – hey, where were my bike gloves? A long ride puts continual pressure on my wrists and hands, and the gloves are specially designed to relieve that pressure and provide needed padding. A search of my bike bags and camper failed to turn them up. Either I’d done a great job misplacing them, or there’d been a quantum field disruption and my gloves had tunneled to another universe. Fortunately I’d packed a spare set, less padded and used only for short rides, but they’d get me to Cadillac where I could get another good pair at the bike store. I got on the road around 4:30, an hour behind schedule.

Just a couple hundred yards out of the campground, I passed what looked like a wallet lying on the side of the road. I retrieved it and confirmed it was a wallet, complete with ID, credit cards, and cash. Back to the campground office where I turned it in, and off I went again, my sense of perspective restored. Missing gloves were an annoyance; what could the wallet’s owner be thinking? And I couldn’t help wondering if I’d been meant to start late and find that wallet all along.

Typical terrain north of Cadillac. Whoever thinks Michigan is flat is cordially invited to join me next time. I’ll drive the support van with the oxygen.

I made a wrong turn and wound up on US31 during rush hour instead of back roads, but made it safely to Mesick before dark. I got to my room, took a quick shower, and got out my set of regular clothes to go to dinner. And as I unrolled my pants, out dropped my missing gloves. How they got in there I have no idea. I still haven’t dismissed the quantum field disruption theory.

Dinner was at the Mushroom Sports Bar just down the street from the motel. I had (what else) the Mushroom Burger. Pretty good, as was the ice cream at the Dairy Pit down the road. And the motel manager gave me some fresh ground coffee to top it off. They’ll get a good review on TripAdvisor from me!

Update: The wallet was returned to its owner. He’d put it on the roof of his car and driven off forgetting it was there. That was also the case when I found and returned someone’s cell phone during another bike ride a year ago.


I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED MY “500 at 50” bike trip from home to our campground in Empire and back.

Quick Summary:
Total days: 6.5
Total miles: around 600
Calories burned: 24,000 (about 7 lbs. worth)
Total hours spent in the rain: 12 (all in one day)
Towns visited: 30
Coffee consumed: around 1 gallon of varying quality
Wallets found: 1

And I have a new grandma!

Details to follow, starting tomorrow.

Heading Home

IT’S BEEN A QUIET WEEK at the campground, which is they way we like it. Hard to believe that week has gone by so fast. Now it’s back on the bike for the trip home.

The trip up was three days, and it was a pretty hard push at times, without time to stop and look around much, like I did on my May trips. So this trip will take place over four days, starting this afternoon with a short hop back to Mesick and the Mushroom Cap Motel. We’ve driven by the place for 20 years, with the accompanying cracks about its name and such, but the reviews are good, both for the rooms and the food next door. So we’ll see if it lives up to its reputation.

Friday is the longest segment, mostly back down the White Pines State Park trail, and now I know how to avoid the unpaved sections. If all goes well I will spend the night at Grandma’s House, a cozy B&B in Rockford.

East on Saturday through a number of small towns to Charlotte, then back home on Sunday via Eaton Rapids, Stockbridge, and Chelsea.

For those interested, here are links to the maps and directions.

Campground to Mesick

Mesick to Ann Arbor (Days 2, 3, 4)

Ann Arbor to Glen Arbor Highlights, Part 3

Day Three – Climbing Up The Mountain, Children

One other benefit of staying at Hermann’s Hotel in Cadillac was the bike shop just 100 yards away, and they checked out and adjusted the bike for me. Logan at McLain’s Cycle and Fitness gave me some advice on a route to Mesick, which (finally!) turned out to work very well. About halfway there the serious hills began.

Yum. ‘Nuff said.

The area north of Cadillac is full of hills, and this day’s route, I think, took me over every one of them. A piece of lemon cheesecake fortified me for the leg to Mesick, where I had lunch and a couple of locals attempted to terrify me about No. 9 Road. “Highest hill in the county,” one said. “I used to go up there to get good cell reception.”

The positive thing about the hill on 9 Road, is, I suppose, that you hit it right away. It was immediately visible as I turned off M-115 a mile out of Mesick. Up I went – and had to stop about halfway up. Not an encouraging start. After a few deep breaths and a water break, I made it up and over the top. I continued on, but the thought nagged at me that I could have done better, and the self-discussion began:

To really appreciate this hill, you need to be there. But this is the best I can do here.

Emotional Me (EM): “You didn’t make it up the hill. Wimp.”

Rational Me (RM): “I had a full stomach, I’ve done over 250 miles already. I didn’t gear it right.”

EM: “Yeah, yeah – hey, wait a minute. You didn’t gear it right. So,…”

RM: “No. I’ll save it for next time.”

EM: “What next time? This is your year. Your big event. You going to let this hill go by unconquered?”

RM: “@#$@%^#@&!!!” (Sigh…)

Back down the hill I went. At the rumble strips I turned around, stuck the bike in granny gear, and hit it again. Cars passed me. Snails passed me. And then – the top! I’d done it! And then, after about a mile of quiet triumph, I hit the other big hill. Apparently there are two of them on No. 9 Road. So which one were the locals referring to? Didn’t matter. Back to granny gear, and once again I got over the top. There were many more hills after that, but I’d dealt with the biggest ones. I’m sure there’s a good lesson/lecture/sermon in all of that, but I’ll save it for another time.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and just before 7:00 I arrived at the campground to an enthusiastic reception from my daughters, who did the sensible thing and drove up earlier that day. The only thing that could have improved it was the presence of my wife, but she’d gotten a later start. I’ll take what I got, though.

Coming up next: the plan for the return trip.