Traverse City, Mi. to Boyne City, Mi.: Who'll Stop The Rain? - Headlong Into The Petri Dish - CycleBlaze

September 12, 2020

Traverse City, Mi. to Boyne City, Mi.: Who'll Stop The Rain?

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Margaret cannot abide a lack of forward motion. She dislikes being stationary. Nothing satisfies her more than having an all day project in the back yard ... but not simple weed pulling. Building brick patios, transplanting multiple bushes, planting trees, cutting down trees, building raised bed garden plants. That’s a proper job. No small efforts for Marg. I, however, am content to float around the house for hours on end like an untethered helium-filled party ballon. Seeing where the wind decides to blow me from moment to moment, drinking yet another cup of coffee. This is one area where our Venn Diagrams simply do not overlap.

So ... today’s weather forecast aimed our discrepant tendencies on a collision course.

The forecast had been waffling for a while but last night it firmly stated, “rain.” Just how much rain, and how long of a rain, was still murky. When we threw open the curtains at 7 AM, it was as grey as dawn and there was no doubt that what we saw could be categorized as “rain.”

Hmmmm .... We rushed to the weather apps. After 10 minutes of scrutiny, refreshing, cross-referencing, and making confirmation-biased assumptions of what it all meant, Margaret played the first card: “Let’s do it. We can do this. That’s why we bought this fancy Gore-Tex rain gear. Plus I will go nuts sitting around this motel all day. C’Mon. Let’s go for it.”

Now, just between us dear reader, and I will whisper this very quietly now .. **I kind of wanted to just sit around this motel all day** Shhhhh ... But I respect Margaret way too much to throw cold water (Ha! No pun intended) on her zeal to get back on the road. Plus, all her logic was spot on. As it always is. So what came out of my mouth was “Yeah! Let’s do it!” A-Packing we did go, loading the bikes, with me trying not to watch what was happening just on the other side of the window.

Parking Lot Weather Assessment
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Rolling the bikes down the motel hallways an older couple heading the opposite direction stopped to hold the exit door open for us and exclaimed, “You’re heading out to bike in this weather?? Good luck to you!” Gulp. Outside, we stood still and checked things out. Steady light rain, but not a downpour, not exactly warm, but certainly not cold. We agreed, we were good to go. Plus, we’d left the keys in the room and locked the door behind us, so riding seemed to be our best, and only, option. Nowhere to go but forward. So, we did just that.

Two Miles In We Are All-Conquering Heroes
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Honestly, it was a bit of a thrill to be out there in the rain. Who intentionally does that? HaHa! We’re doing something crazy!! And, c’mon, there was no way it was going to rain all day long. Right? The Jamison Expeditionary Force was filled with unfettered optimism.

The first chink in the armor was about 13 miles down the road. The route had us riding four short miles on Michigan Hwy. 72, a four lane vehicular monstrosity. At that time, the rain must have just finished its morning coffee and was feeling ready to get down to work, because the rain now was steadily falling. Initially, we thought M-72 might be OK, as there was a 4-5 foot shoulder which felt pretty safe, even with the impressive rooster-tails of water the traffic was throwing our way. That was until the first uphill, when a passing lane appeared, and Hwy. 72 said, “Uh, I’m gonna need you to give up that 4 foot shoulder now.” Our luxurious shoulder quickly siphoned down to about 18 inches of pavement and it was hair raising. Teeth clenched, we soldiered on. Thank goodness it was only four miles. There were no pictures of that episode for obvious reasons. At an abandoned scenic pull-out, we hustled across the four lanes of M-72 and finally were on a quieter back road.

Finally Exiting The Wretched Torture Chamber Of M-72
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In Rapid City at mile 20 we popped into a grocery store for vittles and a bathroom break. In the checkout line, the woman ringing us up exclaimed, “Oh my, are you two biking in this weather?” We confirmed that was so and she said, “Well if I had my truck I’d load you two up and get you somewhere warm!” What a sweetheart. She meant it. We told her she was awesome but we’d be OK. When we emerged from the store the steady rain had found the enthusiasm to become a heavy rain. Ugh. Another chink in the armor. We took our food and bikes to a small, covered pavilion, and hunkered down to eat. After 30 minutes things lightened again so off we went.

Having A Cold, Wet Snack In Rapids City
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Torch Lake is one of the most beautiful inland lakes in Michigan, and we were riding its eastern shore. But the weather made it look more like the Bering Sea in winter, so we just cruised along and gave it the side-eye. Maybe on our return trip along the western shore it will have a chance to show itself in better circumstances. If we felt the urge to stop it passed quickly because that would mean instead of riding in the rain, we would simply be standing in the rain, which held no appeal whatsoever. So on we rode. The weather toggled between dark grey and rainy, to light grey and rainy, and rainy and rainy (if you get my drift here, it rained.)

Is It Still Raining?
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A Small Ray Of Color
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Reviews Of The Day Have Been Begun To Shift
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Oddly, we saw scads of wild turkeys today, especially in the wooded areas beside the road. Like, impressively large number of sightings, each with 6-10 turkeys in each group. Hmmm ... what do you call a group of turkeys? A flock? Wait a sec .... OMG!! Google says a bunch of turkeys is a “rafter!” Surely, without question that is today’s fun fact. WAIT! No!! I quote from the Wikipedia turkey page: “The red, fleshy appendage that hangs from a turkey’s neck is called a snood.” THAT is today’s fun fact! Get yourself out in the world tomorrow and start using the word “snood” because that word is too wonderful to keep under wraps any longer!

Turkeys: A Sub Theme Of The Day
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As we pushed along we approached East Jordan and I had a little flashback. Six years ago on another tour I rode out of East Jordan in the opposite direction we are traveling now, but on the same road, which is County Hwy. C-48. I wrote some very awful things about C-48 in a journal from that tour. Hurtful, insulting, hideous, Trumpian-Level insults. One I recall was referring to C-48 as a “gnarled deformity.” It was a horrible road, with a crumbling shoulder, potholes galore, and lines of sight that were awful. I honestly thought I was going to die on that road it was so bad. When I realized that Margaret and I would be back on it, I literally had palpitations.

Imagine my surprise to find that C-48 was smooth and svelte and buff and sophisticated. He had wide, broad shoulders with a surface as smooth as glass. C-48 had been working out, bought some new clothes and gotten a decent haircut and I have to admit my first thought in seeing him was “Hey Sailor, new in town?” We practically skated along it was so easy. Things change. C-48 and I may start a platonic relationship.

C-48, You Look Mahvelous!
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East Jordan also looked to have gotten a fresh coat of paint since I was last here, to its benefit. One thing that did not change was a screaming fast downhill into town. Well, except since we were riding the opposite direction, it was now an ungodly steep uphill leaving town. A foreshadowing came from Margaret, who had the ACA map on her handlebar bag. “Wow, there’s a hill on the map that they give a name to! It must be a pretty steep hill!” One of life’s truisms for bikers or XC skiers is this: If the hill has a name, it must be a pretty big hill. Oof. It was. There are VERY few hills that Margaret and I can’t manage on a bike, even our fully loaded touring bikes, but this thing brought us to our knees and made us beg for mercy. Three quarters of the way up we both unclipped and did the Walk Of Shame to the summit.

Think That Hill Is Really Steep?
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Yes It Is. The Walk Of Shame.
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So on went the day. Rain, mist, drizzle ... pull out the thesaurus. Whatever synonym you find under the word “rain” and find especially to your liking, use it, because it precipitated that way for at least a bit today.

There was no better sight than the “Welcome to Boyne City” sign, because that was the end of the road for the day. We lodged at the Boyne City Motel and I fought of the urge to fall and kiss the wet, saturated earth. Instead, Marg and I fist bumped. Three minutes later, it stopped raining for the first time today.

Home Sweet Home
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Today's ride: 65 miles (105 km)
Total: 181 miles (291 km)

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