Velo the Lake 2012

9/20 — Death Valley

September 20, 2012

After fighting a cold headwind for 87 hilly miles yesterday, crossing the bridge into the USA seemed like a refreshing change. Sure it was raining, but the countryside was flattening out, and the sky was getting wider. In the U.P you can see weather coming from a long way off, so I could see the sky was clearing in the west, and the south breeze suddenly seemed warmer. Rolling past farm fields south of the Sault, the smell of cattle barns and feedlots was the perfect “welcome home” to my Iowa-bred sensibilities.

This morning, yesterday’s south wind was changing to southwesterly and, as the day progressed, into a steady 15-20 mph breeze out of the due west. I, of course, was pedaling west from Brimley State Park to the Wandering Wheels RV Park near Munising. Realizing that I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pedal 100 miles into a steady headwind, I would finally get to find out today. What follows is a brief summary of what I discovered:

Aaaa—rrrr—gggg—hhhh! Must — try — to —main— tain — ten — miles — an — hour. Must — keep — head — down. Try — to — stay — fo — cused.

Just east of Seney, Michigan Highway M28 offers up a 23.4 mile stretch of flat, perfectly straight road, pointing due west into today’s featured wind. The “Seney Flats” are reputed to be the U.P.’s Death Valley for bicyclists, but don’t think about it, Timothy. Focus, keep your head down. Keep pedaling. Were those vultures feeding on a moose carcass out of the corner of my eye? I must be hallucinating. A wagon wheel half-buried in the sand? Must make it to the Wandering Wheels Dude Ranch. Cookie will have good grub there…

Meanwhile, up ahead at the “Dude Ranch,” Cookie was indeed preparing good grub. As I rolled up to the camper, there was Diane with her big “happy to see you” smiling face, and our dog, Katie. Every day’s ride on this Velo the Lake tour ends this way, seeming like I have come in from my self-imposed wilderness into an instant welcome-home party. 

Tonight, as I sit in our warm, comfortable trailer, we now rest just 300 miles from home. This ride around the Big Lake may somehow, someway, really be possible. Imagine that! But I am learning every day that no accomplishment of any kind can compare to the daily acts of kindness, generosity, and love I see around me.

Friends, I wish to give here a true account of these events, and to entertain you, as well. Much greater than this desire, I would ask you to consider a gift to the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. If you haven’t done so already, just think about it. You can connect to their website at http://www.northernlakesfoodbank.org. After all, everyone needs some good grub to come home to…

Somewhere west of Death Valley…

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