Traverse City, Mi to Frankfort, Mi.: 82 Miles? How Did That Happen? - Headlong Into The Petri Dish - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2020

Traverse City, Mi to Frankfort, Mi.: 82 Miles? How Did That Happen?

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Eighty-two miles? Last night I consulted the maps and calculated today’s distance. Three separate times. Meticulously counted the miles between waypoints, used ALL my fingers and toes, then did it again with a calculator. Each time (plus or minus a mile or two ... standard error of measurement you know) I came up with 72/73 miles. Not a quick waltz of a ride, but not a soul crushing distance like 80+ miles either.

When Margaret asked about the day’s mileage I confidently stated it would be no more than 73 miles, to which she made a facial expression somewhere between stoic and determined, and said “Yeah, OK. I can do that.”

Ah, if only it had been “that.”

Spoiler alert there, but you being a smart consumer of media have already likely sussed out the plot line here. So instead, put a pin in that, and let’s talk about the day’s ride, which was a damn fine day’s ride.

Marg On The Leelenau Trail North of Traverse City
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Our vectors today were to first head north, then west, and then south. That chunk of beef jerky we sacrificed to the weather gods a couple days ago must have been received with great satisfaction, because the predicted winds for today meant we would see tailwinds the entire time! And other than a short 10 mile stretch when we were bucking a headwind riding west, we were getting a boost from the friendly zephyrs.

A Rafter (HA!) Of Turkeys. See Any Snoods or Wattles?
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Our friends had given us a pro tip of a deluxe coffee shop in Suttons Bay called “Mundos” being an excellent stop for java and treats, and at 22 miles that was right on time. Some quick scouting found the place, and we were shortly on their patio sucking down some coffee and eating their pastries. The available breakfast options at the motel had been especially dreadful this morning, so a reboot of breakfast was a gift. We had a nice chat with an older couple (irony here: I’m 62 and Marg’s 60 so us calling someone “an older couple” seems dangerously close to being pot/kettle/black) about our bike trip and traveling in general. Nice conversation. We all wished each other well and we were back on the bikes.

A Sweet Little Coffee Shop
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Still Life With Bike
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Today’s ride popped in and out of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Monument which is a beautiful and historic place. We were tempted to stop and explore a bit, but every stop on a bike tour means the clock is still ticking. If you yield to the temptation to spend 30 minutes here and there, before you know it its 2:30 PM and you still have 45 miles to ride. Instead, we admired the terrain on the fly, and at 13 mph, you can see a lot.

Into And Out of Sleeping Bear Dunes a Lot Today
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That’s a Dune, Sir.
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In Sleeping Bear is the Heritage bike trail. Again, our friends in Traverse City had tipped us about this trail, but were a bit tepid in recommending it because they had heard it had several gravel/unpaved sections. We chanced upon its northern point and decided to give it a go and bail out if the gravel sections were gnarly. On a hard core road bike it might have been a little chancy but on the touring bikes with their wider tires it was a snap! And this trail!

Heritage Trail Through the Dunes.
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I’m in love!! It swoops, it curves, it has some up and down, open sections, tree shrouded sections. I’m telling you, what a find. And so many people out using it. Mostly pleasure riders and older riders but there’s nothing that makes me feel happier than seeing people out cycling. It’s such a fantastic sport and pass time. Thumbs up to the Heritage trail.

Look At Me!, Says Mike
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Another discovery was the little village of Glen Arbor. Before I get into that some background .... every town or village on the water has varying degrees of affluence, but no shortage of affluence. It is absolutely a truism that money finds water. Wealth wants to be on the water. Not judging, just stating a fact. So each lakeside town has a character all its own, but the main variable is the fashion in which wealth manifests itself. Some places have beautiful but small and tasteful cottages and 2nd homes that nestle into the environment and have an “organic” feeling to their presence. Other towns are populated with three story, 10,000 square foot Frankenstein Monsters that dominate and simply loom over the area like opulent Death Stars. So you’re never sure what the shape each town will lean toward. Glen Arbor was definitely tasteful, and almost Kennebunkport in a tweedy, LL Bean kind of way. It was an interesting combination of feeling both a part of the native environment but also seemingly painfully curated to be so. Looking around, (again, remember that Marg and I are in our early 60’s ... not pups anymore) we seemed to be among the youngest folks around by ten years! Very elderly crowd, all driving BMW, Audi or Mercedes. We stumbled upon the fact that there is free, village-wide Wi-Fi. Our guess is that the locals all collectively funded public Wi-Fi because it was more convenient, and because they could just pay for it out of pocket What am I prattling on about here? I’m not entirely sure, but Marg and I have spent a lot of time on this trip noting how within a 10 miles segment of riding we would see the most wretched looking shacks where people were living (always inland), and literally 10 miles later see a 5-6 million dollar lake home ... which was more likely than not a vacation home, not a primary residence. I’m all for people spending their money as they see fit. More power to anyone on that. I mean, Margaret and I are riding bikes that are collectively worth a decent used car. But, for instance, I know how hard classroom teachers work. Anyone out there who thinks a teacher shows up at school 10 minutes before the kids arrive and goes home 10 minutes after the kids leave has their head up their ass, And don’t even start with this “yeah but they don’t work at all in the summer" stuff. As a building principal I worked 60 hours a week, easily. I can tell you teachers do the same, for far less pay then I was getting. So I struggle to understand how teachers can be paid $40,000 a year and have someone else in a different profession making enough to buy a 4 million dollar 2nd home. I think it's simply because that person has attached themselves to the teat of an industry which has convinced the world that what they do is worth someone being paid 10 million dollars a year .. or more. Think that person works harder than a teacher? BS.

We Claim Squatters Rights in Glen Arbor
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Haha!! Kinda veered off the “ain’t life grand on a bike tour” thing huh? To all my teacher friends ... you deserve that 4 million dollar lake house more than anyone I know.

Finishing off A Three Course Meal. Jerky, Provolone Cheese, and Wheat Thins
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Yeah, so back to Glen Arbor, right? We ate our usually road lunch of beef jerky, wheat thins, cheese, and tootsie rolls. God, it makes me almost nauseous writing that, but I’m telling you it tastes awesome when you eat it. Then back to the roads we went, to analyze and define more of the world’s problems.

Margaret at Full Power
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Lake side Riding
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About ten miles away from Frankfort our bike computers showed we already had ridden 72 miles. I faced the hard fact that I’d been being refusing to acknowledge for the last hour. This was going to be an 80+ mile day. Oh boy. I shouted up to Marg ... “Hey? Uh, I think its going to be about 82 miles of riding today! I’m not sure what happened on that.”

Margaret relaid, “Oh, I figured that out about 30 miles ago, No worries.”

What a woman.

Our Little Unit at a Mom and Pop Motel in Frankfort
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Margaret’s Art Card, Inspired By The Decorative Bike At Our Motel
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Close Up of the Homage Detail for Covid-19
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Today's ride: 82 miles (132 km)
Total: 465 miles (748 km)

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