The Get-Together

Having just gotten back from the Great Minnesota Get-Together aka the State Fair or what I have deemed an exercise in excess it something ceartainly worth writing about. For those that haven’t had the experience of attending this state fair i’ll try to explain a little bit about it, but I must say that i’ll not do it justice.

First is the sheer size of the fair, by my guess, is at least 300 acres large and every available space is covered with a booth (mostly food.) Since I mentioned food it’s appropriate to explain the food in some detail. Just about everything from pie to pickles to pork chops comes on a stick. Second to that I would say that most things come fried, like cheese, candy bars, and chocolate covered bacon. The calorie consumption is staggering, by my estimation the amount of calories eaten in this 12 day fair could feed the country of Liechtenstein for a month.

Second thing that struck me about the fair is that it really does capture what I had pictured to be a State Fair. They had the 4-H kids out in force with their horses, cows, sheep, chickens, llamas, etc. I saw a 820 lbs. pumpkin and I hear there is the worlds largest pig at the fair but I didn’t happen upon him.

Finally is the sheer number of people visiting the fair, the street on friday is wall to wall people and I didn’t even stay for the night festivities so i’d only imagine it got worse than the daytime crowd. The only comparison I would have would be that of the street in Mong Kok in Hong Kong. It was an amazing place to visit, but towards the end I got tired of being crammed in with people stuffing themselves silly.

For those keeping track of my waterskiing prowess the count stands water 2, dug 0. The way i’ve come to see it is man wasn’t made to walk on water, for now… I’ll be back to give it another try, hopefully 100 lbs lighter.

Cross the Line

6/19 Michigander Day 6, 37 miles

I crossed the finish line with “Born in the USA” blaring on the boom box, a smile from ear to ear and people hooting and hollering. It was an amazing feeling. I don’t think I stopped smiling for 10 minutes.

37 miles before lunch? No problem, it’s hard to believe that I can say that especially seeing where I started from on Sunday. The difference is startling, several times through the week I thought about quitting for a day but never did and the reward at the end was made all the more sweet.

I can’t say enough about the people I met on this trip. Everyone that does this tour is positive, enthusiastic, and happy. It really does enhance the tour being able to ride with them.

I’m hooked and I’ll definitely be back to do another Michigander.

It’s Like, Whoooohoooo

6/18 Michigander Day 5 48 miles

The title of todays post was my response to the question if I was enjoying the Michigander. And it aptly sums up the day. After monster hills yesterday todays payoffs are huge. The first downhill today was a nice surprise, after turning around a bend I saw the road drop off into infinity with no hill in sight. I smiled and raced into it, I’m sure I hit at least 30 miles an hour on that downhill.

Todays ride reminded me a lot of Kula where it would take Derek and I 1 hour to get to a friends house on bike but only 5 minutes to get home. I’ve come to appreciate hill-work because I know after every hill is a downhill where I get a chance to catch my breath and the free fall is exhilarating. My knees finally stopped hurting today which I think led to a much easier day of riding, if I could only get rid of the saddle sore I’d be in fine shape.

The last hill of the day was a 2.5 mile downhill where speeds topped off in the 40mph range, i’ll take those free miles any day.

We had a fair amount of hill-work today but one particular hill was talked about by everyone at the end of the day, I nicknamed the hill “the sleeping giant.” It came at us after lulling us in a nice downhill segment around a bend so we really couldn’t see it. I was told the grade was at 8%, which would make it the highest grade hill we worked on all week. I saw a few people walking their bike up the hill, I just put it in granny- gear and trudged my way up it.

All in all it was an exhilarating day and I think I was close to firing on all cylinders finishing 48 miles in just over 5 hours. One guy I was following for 6 miles said we were doing 19mph =D.

Moving Right Along

6/16 Michigander Day 4, 38 miles

Whats wrong with me today:

  • Knees
  • Thighs
  • I still can’t feel my pinky & ring finger on the left hand but it’s now migrated to my right hand which leaves me with 6 normal fingers.

If somoene would have asked me after the first day if i’d like to do a 38 mile bike ride i’m quite ceartain I would have balked at them thinking they were out of their mind. But after finishing 2 50+ mile rides it almost feels too easy.

Something to note about todays ride is i’m told Cadillac (where we ended today) is probably the highest point in Michigan ( i sure wish someone would have told me that sooner) suffice to say we had some monster hills to go over today which somewhat makes up for the shorter ride. In case anyone is wondering i’m drinking between 1-2 gallons of water a day i’d guess. At every SAG (Support And Gear) stop I fill 2 liters of water and there are usually 3 SAG stops a day, so staying well hydrated isn’t really a problem. I am also getting a nice farmers tan up here, it would have to be me to leave Hawaii and come to Michigan to get a tan.

I’ve learned there are things I hate riding through, so far the list is limited to sand. It’s like a black hole to energy, sand sucks whatever momentum you have and leaves you standing still. The only thing worse than riding through sand that I can think of would be riding through sand uphill with a head wind, I think i’d rather walk.

As a side note my cousin Bill who turned me onto this ride has given his Best/Worst awards for this years tour.

Gotta Keep Moving

6/16 Michigander Day 3, 51 miles

A new day begins and a checklist of what hurts

  • Knees
  • I can’t feel my left hand pink & ring finger

I was thinking that my knees would complain more than they are today which led me to think that I might try to skip todays ride and just load up my bike with Sarah and ride along with her. The more I thought about it I came to the conclusion that if I skipped one day I wouldn’t get back into the saddle. I think the rest of my body has given up complaining until I stop riding for a few days when i’ll just fall apart.

The sense of elation wasn’t with me today as I crossed the finish line as it was yesterday even though we finished the second longest leg of the tour today.

Aunt Kathleen asked me if i’m glad I did this. I think it’s a little early to answer this question but i’ll hazard a guess at this point. I hope the answer will be a resounding yes, the reason being to see how far physically and mentally I can push myself without breaking. While I may be deteriorating physically I am not letting me stop.

Tommorow is the shortest leg of the tour, hooray for small victories.

Bring on the Pain

6/15 Michigander Day 2, 57 miles

List of things that hurt when waking up:

  • Thighs
  • Knees

Yup, thats all that I could tell really hurt when waking up, although I know I’ll feel the rest of it when riding.

I’ve given Luke’s bike and I the team name “Lava Flow” because sometimes we have speedy bursts but most of the time we just ooze.

It’s with mixed emotion I passed the century mark today, I remember thinking how amazing it is that I actually completed over 100 miles, but at the same time i’m in so much pain all over right now it sorta blocks anything else out at times. Tommorow will be a true test.

Today also marked the longest leg of the tour, so if there is anything good that happened today, besides me finishing. It’s that the long leg is out of the way. My estimated time of finishing the 57 miles was close to 7 hours. I ended up taking more and longer breaks, especially since we did some unpaved trails today.

I remember thinking after I finished biking that day that I might try to skip the next day and just ride with Sarah in the van. I was really concerned about my knees and just surviving the following day in general.

Ready, Set…

I forgot to mention what I did for training prior to taking on the michigander. A four mile test ride on Lukes bike. Thats it. Honestly it’s been over 6 months since i’ve really even touched a bicycle so I can truthfully say that I was fairly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete this ride. This isn’t a fact I shared with anyone riding the michigander because i’m sure most of them would consider me foolish in the extreme. I share this now to give some perspective on the next few entries.

6/13 Michigander day 1, 47 miles

Hooray, I actually completed a 47 mile bike ride, a personal best for me seeing as i’ve never biked over 20 miles in a single day before. I think my approximate time was 4 hours and 30 minutes which made it about 10 miles an hour (I was hoping I could get that pace.) I may not be saying that tommorow morning (I may be saying oh god I hurt) after my muscles have a chance to tighten up; my guess is that just about everything will ache but the worst pain will probably come from my shoulders, thighs, and ass. One guy I talked to on the trail made the comment ‘it isn’t how long you can peddle, instead it’s how long you can sit in the saddle.’ By the 4th hour I was a beliver in that saying.

As my parents and I have noted on this trip Michigan trails and parks are extremely well kept and this ride was no exception. The first 27 miles of todays ride was pretty flat and paved the entire way which made for an easy start. Following that was a section through regular roads which I soon learned to mean hill-work. We finished the day on another rail/trail.

I was supposed to meet Bill and Sarah to watch a minor league game but arrived a little to late, which might be a good thing so I can rest more.

Tommorow ought to be interesting.

I’m lucky I took two pictures, i’m not sure i’ll be able to lift my camera because my shoulders hurt so much.


Just so everyone doesn’t think i’ve dropped off the face of the earth recently i’m happy to say that I completed the Michigander. The michigander is a bicycle tour through Michigan, the route changes every year so they can showcase different parts of Michigan. This year it started in Muskegon, MI on the Western coast of Michigan and ended in Traverse City, MI (the cherry capital.) The distance we rode this year was close to 300 miles and took 6 days to complete, camping in different schools each night.

I’ll be posting my thoughts from the 6 day tour over the next several days but wanted to preface it with some information first.

First I have to say thanks to a lot of family around here for making this happen. Thanks goes to Luke for letting me borrow his bike, without which it would have been impossible for this experience to happen. Thanks also goes to Renee and Mike for letting me borrow their tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad (I had these in case the hammock idea was a flop.) Thanks goes to Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Homer for getting me orginized and setup with duffel bags, bottles for water and general support. Finally thanks goes to Bill and Sarah for the help throughout the journey and for general entertainment, it ceartainly was an experience I won’t soon forget.

I got to be known on the tour as the “Hammock guy” since every day after getting into town I would go in search for 2 trees to set up my hammock tent. I found this while doing research on lightweight camping options and i’m pleased to say that it exceeded expectations. It didn’t take much time getting used to sleeping in the hammock and setting it up takes me 4 minutes at most. I rode out a thunderstorm in it while in Traverse City and I managed to stay bone dry. So far i’ve been completely happy with it and can’t endorse it enough.

Where Bicycles Ruled the Earth

I guess I should first mention that I added more pictures to the gallery and i’ll try to explain some of what has gone on this past week or so.

First on the itinerary was a stop at Mackinac Island. Some people may remember we had to cancel this excursion the last time we went through the area due to inclement weather. Well this time was the complete opposite, the weather was absolutely perfect and we accomplished most everything we wanted to do on the island.

For those that are unaware of what Mackinac island is all about, the whole island is a National Historical Landmark due to the preservation of the island. Another neat thing that I really enjoyed about the island is that almost all motorized vehicles are banned there. The exceptions to this rule being the emergency vehicles (we didn’t see any, but I understand they exist on the island), airplanes (my uncle and I think my cousin has landed on this island), and lawn mowers. So as you can imagine the island is somewhat peaceful with only bicycles, horses, and two legs to get you from place to place. We all rode bikes around the island one day which was really fun and I think just about everyone that goes to the island rides bikes around. We got fudge, which the island is known for. We did a fair amount of hiking on the interior of the island. So all around it’s a neat place to visit for a few days.

Our next stop was up at Basswood Lake up in Ontario Canada. Thanks goes to Bob and Marilyn Kellum who hosted us all. Every day on the lake has a happy hour with lots of alcohol and pupu’s followed by a most excellent meal. I managed to read a few books, went on a few adventures (got my rowing in, along with a trip on a kayak, canoe, and a row boat), went on a few power boat rides, and generally lazed about on the lake.

On a completely different note today marks the end of the trip for my mom and dad who head home today. It’s hard to understand for me that two months have come and gone, we did a lot in such a short time. I think most if not all of the agenda items for them were accomplished while being up here so all in all it was a successful trip for them. It was sort of a role-reversal today where I was dropping them off at the airport. My parting words of wisdom for them was “don’t get into trouble you two.”

Going Up North

Grizzly Adams checking in.

We leave for Canada tommorow so i’ll be out of touch until this weekend. We’ll be staying at a cabin on Little Trout Lake (i think thats the name) which belongs to a friend of my aunties. I think i’ll try and go fishing, row around the lake a bit and just chillout; as if my summer hasn’t already been chill enough.

On a seperate note I no longer have a cell phone. As many of you know I never really wanted a cell phone so once again the debate is whether or not to get a cell phone; that being said the easiest way to reach me now is via email.

We spent the last few days on what used to be my grandparents farm with my uncle and cousin. I think I got to live out the dream of many children this week by getting to drive around a backhoe. It really is everything it’s cracked up to be as moving around in a 50 ton machine is very empowering. Other than that we just putzed around the farm a bit and helped out here and there, so not all that much to share.