Monday, June 27, 2011

First Bike Tour- Summer 2010

I got really into biking last summer. It started with a trip to Mackinac Island and then a 30 mile out-and-back from Paradise to Tahquamenon Falls. I started researching a lot about biking while going on daily trips around the Lansing area and places up north. My countless hours on the internet looking up stuff about biking led me to discovering bike touring. The website,, helped me out a lot and I really liked the idea. Before investing too much money into the idea, although it sounded awesome to me from the get go, I wanted to take a trial tour. I came up with this tour after finding a few really cool spots for biking in northern Michigan. I wanted to see the Tunnel of Trees overlooking Lake Michigan and found a cool rail trail that went from Mackinaw City to Gaylord. I brought those two together and came up with the route you can see in the picture on the right. The different colors represent different days.

My awesome girlfriend always joins me on my crazy ideas and this wouldn't be any exception. She seemed very excited for the trip too, which makes me happy. I love her to death for that. Always supporting my craziness, but manages to keep me somewhat grounded.

Petoskey State Park
Anyways, just a quick overview of last year's trip. We parked our car at our friend's place on Torch Lake and camped there for the first night. We left on 8/9/10, didn't realize that until now, and were headed towards Petoskey. We weren't even 5 miles into our trip when we stopped at a grocery store we knew of to get breakfast. On the way in, we ran into another bike tourer who has been traveling all around the United States for years. What are the chances? I thought it was a sign right away. He was disappointed that we didn't have helmets at that point though. We stopped in Charlevoix for lunch and made it to Petoskey State Park for our first night's stay. We followed the Little Traverse Wheelway for most of the trip. It was a beautiful stretch right on the lake. We also ran into two retired teachers at a rest stop along the way where we stopped for water and a snack. We had a nice conversation with them.

Tunnel of Trees (M-22)
The next morning we left Petoskey with Mackinaw City as our next destination. We went through Harbor Springs, which Skye absolutely loved, and then got onto M-22, the Tunnel of Trees. This was a beautiful stretch that hugged the coast of Lake Michigan. We camped out at a place in Mackinaw City that we had stayed at before, Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground.

We started the next day not sure of where we wanted to stay. We hopped on the Mackinaw City to Gaylord Rail Trail and took that to Cheboygan where we stopped for some food. We headed south on the rail trail towards Gaylord. We ended up stopping at Burt Lake State Park for the night. We didn't even make it 40 miles because the rail trail was crushed limestone, which was tough to ride on. It was also very hot out.

Short's Brewing Co.
We made up for the short day by following it with a long day. We made it all the way to Mancelona, which left a short ride back to Torch the next day. However, the long ride made it so we were riding right up till dusk. We made it to a spot where my gps on my phone said a campground should be, but there wasn't anything in sight and Skye was starting to get nervous (as was I.) We talked about our options and we decided we would go around the next bend and if it wasn't there, well it better be there! And it was, and the owner was absolutely awesome. Gave us a good deal and then drove us into town so we could get subway. Whispering Pines right outside of Mancelona. I definitely recommend this place.

The next day we headed home. We stopped at Short's in Bellaire, Michigan. It was an awesome microbrewery. The food was great and the beer was even better. However, it was probably a little too good because it made the home stretch of the trip very long. Haha. It was worth it though.

We made it!!!
The trip was awesome. It is one of my favorite vacations that I have ever been on. If you call a 230 mile bike ride a vacation. I do. Skye, on the other hand... I don't think she looks at it as a vacation, but she still loved it.  The trial tour did exactly what it was intended to. It showed us that we both like touring and it led to the trip that we are leaving on tomorrow. 1,000 miles around Lake Michigan!!

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