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May 19, 2016

By meriwether, May 19 2016 08:26PM

The Midwest did come through for me - yesterday - on my ride from Allegan to Three Rivers, MI. A cloudless sky with nothing but blue, temperatures into the mid 60’s, and a tailwind that I haven’t felt in months it seems - one that lasts and stays at your back.

The ride from Ludington to Whitehall a few days ago was also sunny but quite brisk - I stayed bundled the whole time. On that ride I was on familiar ground cruising along one of my favorite Michigan Rail Trails - the Hart-Montague; it is one of my choice fall rides. Those of you who might have given a passing thought to a little weekend bicycle excursion, here’s one for you. Hop on the trail at Whitehall/Montague (a little north of Muskegon) and head 24 miles north on the Hart-Montague trail to Hart - easy cycling on a paved trail through beautiful Michigan countryside. From Hart cut over a few miles on back roads to the coast at Silver lake and stay at the Dunes Waterfront Resort, a beautiful location right on Silver Lake which is framed by dunes galore - catch a dune buggy ride if you are in the mood. The next day head back south on Scenic Drive B-15 which meanders along the Lake Michigan Coast through orchards and vineyards. You can follow it most of the way back to Montague/Whitehall to the shores of White Lake. Check in to either the White Swan B&B or Cocoa Cottage B&B which are right across the street from each other. I chose the Cocoa Cottage a couple of days ago, declaring that I needed a bit of luxury as my journey draws to a close.

Of course, a couple nights later I was back in my tent doing a bit of stealth camping - that is, camping where you are not supposed to. This was at Little John Lake County Park. It was fairly remote and secluded, so I wasn’t too worried about getting the boot. Out west in some states it is quite different - touring cyclists are more than welcome to camp at city and community parks. Wouldn’t it be grand - and smart - if more state parks and city and county parks around the country had policies that encouraged self propelled travel and all its health benefits . . . by bicycle or by foot . . . like those in California and Oregon. There you can stay in a Hiker-Biker campsite for $5 with access to showers, picnic tables, and food lockers in a group camp setting. What a novel idea . . . no, not novel - just common sense.

In the Michigan coastal town of Grand Haven I stayed with Warm Showers hosts Andrew and Debbie. They have a beautiful house overlooking Lake Michigan. Their dinner table faces the lake and each evening they can dine with the most amazing view of the waters framed by their huge windows. The next morning Andrew rode with me and gave me the Tour De Grand Haven - really a wonderful waterfront community. In conversation Andrew mentioned a book that he had read and the author said something like this that really struck home: Life is magnified on a bicycle; cycling in rough weather with the cold, rain, and wind can make a bad day unbelievably bad . . . and cycling in fair weather with sun and warmth and following winds can make a good day superlative. It’s so much different than traveling in a car. You can’t roll up the windows . . . you can’t turn on the heater. You are out in it . . . and deal with it the best you can . . . and keep peddling. I had little trouble identifying with the sentiments of the author having been out in it now for nine months. Fortunately, those good days do make up for a lot of rough days!

Yesterday’s ride from Allegan to Three Rivers found me on another Rail Trail that I am partial too and have done a number of times - the Kal-Haven Trail which runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven on the coast - another great weekend excursion if you are thinking. It runs for 34 miles, but I hooked into it on the last six miles into K-Zoo. From there it was a straight, wind caressed shot southward to Three Rivers and Corey Lake where I am taking a rest day courtesy of Cassandra and her wonderful cottage on the lake. Cassandra was a team member of mine on our 2009 Global Habitat Mission to Zambia. She lives in Prospect Heights, IL, just north of Chicago, and offered this great place to stay for a day or two and gather forces for the final push home.

Some folks have asked when exactly I will be peddling into Toledo. From here I am planning to head east to Round Lake in the Irish Hills where I will visit with Fraternity Brother Gary and his wife Sally, and then make tracks for my front door - I think that will be on Monday. My house is waiting for me, and has been wondering where I have been this past year! If anyone has a yen to do a little bike ride and would like to join me these last few miles, feel free to do that. I will be coming in from the Irish Hills, but rather than take U.S. 223 will more likely take the back roads.

Proceeding On To The End

As always, many thanks are due to repeat donors Julie and Bryan Haas who have made recent donations to both Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children in support of my ride.

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