Tag Archives: Durand

Doing a Brick, Tastes Like a Brick, Iron Lady, Iron Legs

ALL SET FOR THE CRIM this weekend! Outfit and gear selected and packed, maps printed, and bike cleaned and lubed, checked and ready to go. Friday afternoon I ride the 60 miles or so to Flint, pick up my race packet, then head to my hotel. Saturday morning I bike to the start, run the 10-miler, then get back on the bike and head back home. (Okay, maybe a bite to eat first.)

I’ve done many “bricks” before (run & bike combinations), but this marks the first time I’ve incorporated an actual race into one. Should be an interesting experience.

Crim 2013 - PR Fitness team photo

2013 Crim PR Fitness runners. (We have fun.)

Why do this? Well, I could say it’s good training for my Run Woodstock 100K, where I expect to be on my feet for 14 hours or so, and that it’s a good test of persevering while fatigued. But the real reason is that the PR Fitness bus leaves Ann Arbor at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, and I just hate getting up that early. This way, I don’t have to get up until 6:30. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Chris - Itchi-Bon Bakery - CloseupOne part of my cunning plan won’t be happening, however. The route will take me near Durand, which I’d visited on a weekend bike trip in 2013. I’d hoped to revisit the Itchi-Bon Bakery and its sweetheart of an owner, who restored my soul on a cold, wet morning. But sad news – after over 25 years in business, she closed the bakery last year. Now where am I going to find red velvet doughnuts?

On a positive note, super kudos to my friend and fellow PR Fitness runner Tracy, who came back from an injury this year to finish Ironman Boulder, knocking two hours off her best time despite two flat tires.

Tracy and me at last year's Dances with Dirt Green Swamp. (She's the good-looking one.)

Tracy and me at last year’s Dances with Dirt Green Swamp. (She’s the good-looking one.)

Also kudos to fellow run blogger Kevin, who just finished his first-ever 50-miler on a really tough course. Check out this elevation profile!

IronLegs 50-mile elevation profile

And finally, a cautionary tale. I was browsing the obesity-inducing counter at Whole Foods – the desserts where you gain weight just looking at them. I was trying to choose between the half-pound chocolate mousse cake and its vegan equivalent when I came across this – a faux chocolate pudding made with chia seeds and almond milk. Way too healthy, but I was intrigued, so I gave it a try.

Yeah, tastes about as good as it looks.

Yeah, tastes about as good as it looks.

Frankly, it was pretty disgusting at first, but after a few bites I realized it just needed a couple of tweaks to improve it significantly:

Chia Seed Pudding - Improved

Much better!

The moral of this story: Life is short. Eat real desserts.

Life and Doughnuts in Durand

Chris - Itchi-Bon Bakery - Closeup“Would you like some coffee?” was the first thing Chris said to me as I entered her bakery. Maybe she asked this of everyone, or perhaps she saw a chilled, haggard-looking guy in a bike helmet and made a logical conclusion.

Count on my support for anything that locks up teenagers for the night.

Count on my support for anything that locks up teenagers for the night.

Day two of my weekend trip started pleasantly with a short ride from Fenton to Linden, where a nice lady was collecting donations to support a pre-graduation day lock-in for the high school seniors. The next stop was Durand, about fifteen miles away, on what turned out to be mostly dirt roads (mud, ruts, and loose gravel – what’s not to like?), while the morning grew steadily grayer and colder. By the time Durand’s signature railroad depot came into view, my need for coffee and a warm place to drink it would have been evident to Stevie Wonder.

Durand - Itchi-Bon Bakery

Chris and her husband Barry have owned the Itchi-Bon (“number one”) Bakery for 26 years, purchasing it just before they got married. Of the original five Itchi-Bons, which the original owner sold off separately, theirs was the only one left. I’d say the attention they pay to their customers is part of the reason why they’ve lasted. Several people came in while I was there, and Chris spent time chatting with all of them, without neglecting a certain cyclist visiting for the first time.

The continuity came with tradeoffs. Noticing the U-M sweatshirt Chris wore, naturally I asked her if she went there. “Oh, no,” she said. “I never went to college. I’ve never left Durand.” There was no regret in her voice. It was just the way things worked out.

Durand DepotTrains are what built Durand, and they remain a big deal today. Their big annual event, Railroad Days, was coming up the following weekend. The website that describes the festival says, “Talk at the coffee shops and pubs still center around trains,” and it was certainly true that morning. I met a lady helping organize the first-ever Railroad Days 5K run, and we “talked some shop” for a bit. (I’m still waiting to hear from her how it went.)

The coffee at Itchi-Bon is run-of-the-mill stuff (sorry, Chris) but it was hot, and served in a thick mug like you’d see in the coffee shops of fifty years ago. No fancy scones or croissants either, but a wide variety of doughnuts at 75 cents each, or day-old at 40 cents My guess is this is the way Durand likes it, and it was actually very refreshing. I hope nobody from Starbucks is reading this and discovering that there’s a town in America without one.

Chris - Itchi-Bon Bakery 2As for doughnuts, I don’t normally eat them because these days they are mostly air, and have about as much flavor as the bag. Not these. Chris pointed to one with a deep pink color – a “red velvet” doughnut. “We don’t usually get these,” she said. Well, naturally I had to have it, then. (*) It was both substantial and delicious. So I had another. There were seventy miles left to go, after all.

Then it was time to move on. Chris popped her head outside as I got back on my bike.

“Come back any time,” she said, cheerily. “I’ll be here every day for the rest of my life.”


(*) Scarcity and exclusivity are time-honored marketing techniques. I knew this, but it still worked.