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.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A roll through the woods

I've been all tied up with real world BS the last few weeks and think I should just give it all the finger and take time to ride to Anchorage to clear my mind.  Instead I decided to spend a few days in the Manistee Forest.   On the route from Paris to Cadillac I found the unfinished portion of the trail paved and nearly finished.    Each intersection was blocked with "trail closed" signs but I forgot to notice and virgin asphalt just begs violation.
The trip from Paris, Mi to Cadillac was a quiet and pristine experience as a result.  My jangled nerves were relieved by the silence swaying through the pines.
In Cadillac I stopped by the National Forest Service to pick up an annual pass.  Our government had words of wisdom to share, it's bureau speak for "take care of yourself and don't bother me."
It didn't feel quite like the end of July.  The temps in the mid 70's made riding a stress free experience, but the nights were a bit nippy and required a fire to keep the cozy spirits up in the evening.  I should have brought some long pants.
The morning ride from Cadillac into the forest is an inevitable trip down M 55 which is not bad.  It's got nice wide shoulders and the drivers are attentive but it does cross small mountains.  Slow going for a while but it got me into the secondary roads. where I discovered the Google bike route failure.
Most of the roads are scenic and quiet.  They make me wish I knew more about birds 'cause that's all there is out here.  Shady roads and quiet times made me realize I was a little off course.  There was also the motorcyclists who gave me the "Where's he think he's going?" look.  I was on a road to nowhere and had to consult the little blue Google ball on my phone.  Sure enough, I missed a turn, I went back to the "intersection" shown on the Google bike route and wondered,
"how could I have missed this!"  I felt such a fool.  Anybody could see a road there, all you have to do is crawl on your hands and knees under the foliage to see it.  Apparently there was a two track to service some power lines, but the forest has swallowed it and doesn't look like it's spitting it back out.
I finally did reach the Pine Lake campground and found a beautiful view and about 12 isolated and fairly private campsites.
The next day was back into the forest on the sandy country roads.  On this trip there was no attempt to prove anything.  Most days were relegated to slow appreciation of the countryside and 30-40 miles of nominal distance covered.  There were some necessary side trips for food and drink
as well as a brief stop at "Big M" where there are some expert quality mountain trails and I had a chance to rub shoulders with the normal cycling world which was having some kind of thing going on there.  It was pretty much a spandex deal and I didn't quite fit in without suspension on the bike and no diapers to wear.
So, I went back to the meditation the forest provides
where one runs across isolated lakes and day use areas in the middle of the forest.
The gem was reaching the Lake Michigan Rec area where the coastline was purely Michigan.   I've said before that nothing really eclipses the Michigan coastline.  I've seen the Atlantic from both sides, the Mediterranean, the Gulf from a few angles and played golf on Carmel's famous Spanish Bay, but nothing's better than this.
Miles of sparsely populated beaches with crystal clear refreshing water.
The difference between National Forest Service campgrounds and the Modern State campgrounds is enormous.  Even at the Lake Michigan site there is plenty of privacy between the 99 campsites.
Compare that to the trailer parks state park campgrounds have become.
Heading back after a day at the beach, I caught a portion of USBR 20 which is plotted east/west route across Michigan.
I discovered a bit of old logging history in Fountain
with this enormous statue dedicated to the industry. 
I wasn't alone out on the paved roads.  This one part of two groups of 12 I ran across during the week.  They are traveling for a week with a camping program.
The last night I stayed outside of Baldwin and caught the rail trail back to Reed City.  Baldwin is kind of a neat little town, they must do a lot of fishing because they have a gigantic and very lovely metal sculpture of a fish at the trailhead.  I have no idea what that has to do with a rail trail, but it must be important to somebody.
The trail itself is an extension of the Pere Marquette trail which continues to Midland Michigan.  The surface is "packed" limestone which wouldn't be bad if it were packed.
This was something I had never seen before, there is a paved exit ramp to allow access to a road side park on Hwy 10 which is contiguous along most of the trial.
The truth is the ride was a real test of patience.  It's uphill on the typical rail trail grade of 1-2%, for miles.  I would honestly rather have ridden the sandy two tracks in the woods than this trail.  Coupled with the very loose and irregular limestone surface it was slow and annoying all the way until I finally reached Reed City and the paved portion of the trail.
Overall it was a cathartic 5 days in the woods, just me, the birds and trees and stuff.  The weather on the trip was nearly perfect, if fact a little cool at night, a little partly cloudy stumbled and fell for about 20 minutes one day but that was all the weather had to offer.


  1. A wonderful, peaceful write up too! Thanks for sharing your woodsy sojourn.

  2. I think the biggest civic event in Baldwin is the Troutarama, which the HS band marches and plays in. Maybe that giant fish is a trout?

    1. I'm assuming it is. It's really a beautiful sculpture.