Riding Wisconsin

Current Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

I cheated, I accepted the fact pretty easily.  Let me explain.  Leaving Michigan gets harder each time I visit, there is certainly something beautiful about the lakes, rolling hills, fresh corn, and family there.  My cousin Jim offered to drive me from Ann Arbor up past the Macinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula, I rationalized this offer to stay an extra day at my auntie and uncles house and not be behind in my schedule across the continent.  As a good friend asked me, ‘whats more important, peddling or people?’  An easy question for me to answer.  I’d list everyone in Michigan that I saw to thank them but then this post would get too long, suffice to say that I appreciated all the food, beer, and conversation with everyone there along with the bike rides and lawn mowings (even if I do break windows.)

Hands down Wisconsin was the nicest state to ride so far this trip.  99% of the ride through the state is done on county roads that are barely trafficked, even on weekends.  It’s all rolling hills through the state with forest on both sides of the road for a greater part.  I didn’t start seeing cows or farms until the last days ride and only one sign in the entire state for cheese for sale.  This isn’t the typical route through Wisconsin.  One guy I met said that the average population of Northern Wisconsin was 5 people per square mile.  I’m not sure where the defining line of north and south Wisconsin is but I believe it as stretches of Wisconsin were fairly empty.

While I don’t stop at every diner I see, I do treat myself once in a while just to see if I can find the diners of old. I like to find the diners where theres a bunch of old boys bellied up to a table, pancakes are the size of your plate and a no-nonsense waitress serving endless cups of weak coffee.  The old boys gab about nothing more important that whats going on in town or the weather.  It proves to me that life really can be that simple and trouble free.  It’s rare to find these establishments and I’ve only managed to find a few of them, if you stop in Butternut Wisconsin look for Jumbo’s and step into what feels like someones kitchen, it provided enough energy that day to ride forever.

At this point in the ride I’m guessing it’s more or less halfway through the ride, I could say this because I’m crossing the Mississippi or that I have about 22 days of riding left, this is a rough estimate of days left, but I hope pretty close to accurate as any longer and I’ll be riding through snow somewhere above 6000ft.  I leave the Adventure Cycling route for a greater portion of the remainder meaning I have no clue where towns, grocery stores, or gas stations are.  This gives me a little bit of anxiety because I rely on the latter two for water and food which probably means I’ll stop at every one I see to fill water.

Moses Founded Cleveland

Current Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Adding Pennsylvania to my list of states I’ve rolled through on this trip is something of a sham. I did manage to camp over night in the state so it counts but I think the total mileage in the state came out to just a shade over 45 miles.

Speaking of mileage, I’ve now managed to throw in 3 days of 130 miles or more. The last two days before making it to my grandmothers old farm I churned out two consecutive days of very long distance riding. This was done mostly in the hope of getting an extra day off or at least get to some good food earlier. I don’t especially like going those distances, each time I’ve done it by the end of the day it feels like all will to peddle is gone and somehow my feet keep going round in circles.

Ohio turns out to be really quite flat which kinda helped with the long distances and peddling my way through Cleveland didn’t turn out to be as hard as I had imagined. And as I was rolling through there I realized as I was going by Browns stadium that I think I had been there with some fellow UH band members when we were at either the big dance or another NCAA tournament, I can’t honestly say I remember which.

I don’t regret pushing hard the last two days before getting to Manchester (I arrived a week ago today.) After being greeted by my aunt my first question was if there was beer in the fridge. I’m glad my family knows me well and is willing to pull out the stops when I get here. My cousin had the fridge well stocked with Bells for my arrival and we got straight to bbq’ing and drinking a few beers with cousins, aunts and uncles. A great way to end the day and start a break in Michigan.

After a week off the cycle (minus a ride with my cousin through the UofM and some byways of Michigan) it’s time I get back on the cycle. The family managed to squeeze in a great bbq at the old farm with lots of people, food, and beer. I got to mow some lawns while I was here and spend a lot of time visiting people.

I’ve added a few pictures I’ve taken along the road.

The White Rabbit

Current Location: Silver Creek, New York

Time, which was my amigo is once again the enemy.  The days which were so long in Europe have become noticeably shorter here and I’ve had more than a few locals tell me that I’m headed in the wrong direction.  They go on to explain that most tourers they see this time of year are headed in the other direction just about finishing in Bar Harbor.  So I definitely feel the pressure to keep up the distance each day.

Riding along the Erie canal was a nice change of pace and gave my legs some rest after the hills and mountains of the Adarondacs.  The towns along the canal are small and quiet by 8:30p except for the trains that parallel the canal, which I think use their horn far too much.

I inquired at the state park I rode by last night what the cost of setting up my little tent would be, the answer was 26$ for one night.  I scoffed at that and rode away, so far the average across the states I’ve been has been 24$ a night.  Far too expensive for me, and a good incentive to free camp as I go along.  Along the Erie canal a few towns have embraced the hiker/biker and provide the town common for camping which I think is a great idea to bring custom to these little towns which otherwise wouldn’t see that money, if only more towns would embrace the hiker/biker they might see the benifits too.

The ride past Niagara Falls was cool, I won’t enthuse too much about it but it was a big waterfall.  I’ll give it that, touristy to the max.  Hot dogs for 5$, you must be kidding me.  There wasn’t as many people as I thought might be there which was nice, because if it was wall to wall people I wouldn’t have even bothered to stop.  I did meet a few cyclists along the cycle path and we had a nice chat, they shared some homemade cookies and told me how to best get through Buffalo.  The border crossings weren’t as bad as they were made out to be, though the guy on the American side didn’t believe the photo was me for a very long time.  I had to explain that I had been cycling fairly seriously and the drivers license looked no better.  After a while he lightened up and let me pass.

I’m just about done with New York at this point and the ride through Pennsylvania should be done in just a few hours (I think the total distance through Pennsylvania is 40 miles.)  After that it’s Ohio and Cleveland.  Another big city to navigate, I got minorly lost yesterday after going through Buffalo but some locals pointed me onto the right road and I got through with little pain.  Just a few days away from a real roof over my head again and my hammock!

Crossing Green, White, and Blue

Current Location: Blue Lake Mountain, New York

Friday is Pieday, thats all it took to get me into a diner in New Hampshire. I may bemoan the state of some foods in America but there are a few things we do great, and pie would be one of them. There were about 6 pies on the shelf but the girl didn’t get far past chocolate peanut butter pie. Three of my favorite things together: chocolate, peanut butter, and pie… it didn’t stand a chance.

I think I’ve got most of the appalachin mountains out of the way at this point, the title is a reference to what a guy told me at a gas station as I explained what I was doing. He was also on a bike but just said jeeze, you gotta cross the green and the white. I figured he meant mountains. I surprised myself by getting over them fairly easily, which isn’t to say I don’t huff and puff but at least I don’t stop like I used to.

The scenery along the mountain sides are remarkable and the towns are quaint enough, with a diner here and there. Though I might complain that I can never find a diner when I want a cup of coffee in the morning.

I’m in the middle of the Blue Mountain Ranges, which I belive John Denver sang about? Though I could be wrong. Nice agian with little traffic, except for logging trucks which I love so much. I start the Erie Canal the day after tomorrow which will take me straight into Buffalo basically.