This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A few days in the woods.

     There comes a time when you just have to go new places and see new things.  A bike makes that easy because you can take a nearby road and not speed by every sight, sound and smell.  Bike touring transforms the familiar areas into new adventures. Every few weeks I like to choose another new one.  I have been through the Manistee National Forest dozens of times but never by bike.  It's just about 60 miles away and there are miles and miles of gravel two tracks winding through thousands of acres of forest.  
     I started by driving to Paris, Michigan that is, where there is a convenient staging area on the White Pine Trail leading from Grand Rapids to Cadillac.  After verifying with a nearby county park official that I could leave my car for a few days, I took off in search of dirt roads and different views.
   The first day took me to a few county roads through the farms and forest on my way to Baldwin. 
Enroute is a little town I had never heard of called Idlewild.  Fully expecting an intersection with a bait shop and gas station I found instead a museum and interpretive center for a hidden piece of Michigan history.
     Idlewild had been one of the first places in America where free blacks were allowed to own property.  Over the years it attracted affluent entertainers from around the country as a summer retreat and playground.  Looking around I could just imagine summer get togethers with people from Chicago and Detroit.  Concerts in the park were provided for small audiences by the likes of Gladys Knight, Aretha, Dizzy Gillespie and others who were escaping the heat and hassle of the city.
  Moving on a few miles down the road to the town of Baldwin.  I was able to stop for a couple of beers at local pub before grabbing supplies for dinner and breakfast.

Scattered throughout the forest are a dozen or so campsites at different locations.  National Park Service campgrounds are small, and do not provide water and electrical hookups for RV's.  Fortunately they provide scenery and privacy for cycling campers.

I spent a couple of days wandering through the woods on the "gravel" roads.  Most of them are pretty easy riding, but the bottom of hills collect deep, sandy washes which will swallow a 2" tire.  It would be a little easier if I wasn't carrying clothing and camping equipment, but I was and will be.   Fast descents were thrilling on the slippery surfaces and I always had the deep sandy washouts waiting  at the bottom.  My foot found the ground more than once.  Climbing on this stuff, well, it is what it has to be.  Granny down early and be patient.
After a couple of days wandering the back roads, I stayed at the Pearson Bridge Campground near the Pine River.   The Pine is one of the most popular canoe trips in the state.  It has a quick current and draws a particularly entertaining crowd on weekends.  Alcohol is strictly forbidden, but they'd be better off handing out speeding tickets at a Nascar race.
I wanted to spend four or five days wandering the breadth of the forest but had a wedding to attend.  So I cut it short and climbed through the hills of  Caberfae ski country on the ride to Cadillac.
After a quiet night in Cadillac I took the White Pine Trail back to the staging area in Paris.  The White Pine is a well maintained rail trail with few interupptions.  
It intersects with the Pere Marquette trail in Reed City where they preserved the rail intersection and refurbished the old depot as a city meeting facility and park.
The trail is nearly all paved except for a section from Le Roy to Reed City which is a gravelly two track.  When it is finished there will be a fully paved and dedicated bike path 90 miles long from Cadillac to Grand Rapids.  It will intersect at Reed City with the east/west Pere Marquette leading from Baldwin to Midland Mi.  It looks like a nice ride for another time.
While in Cadillac I stayed at the NPS Hemlock campground just outside of the city.  There is much more concern for the seclusion of each campsite as you can see from entrance to my site
compared to the "modern" State Park campground down the road.  
So much for "modern life."  I'd rather be primitive.

Finally, have you ever wondered what happened to those old clunky   Pletscher "mousetrap rear racks?  They still make them and they do work, better than ever.

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