Man on BikeThe Great Michigan Bicycle Adventure 1989Man on Bike

This adventure started the morning of Sunday June 25, 1989 when Earl (not knowing his name was Earl at this point) left his house on his bicycle at 6:39 in the morning. He arrived at the Big D's house about five minutes later. Earl and the other participants in this adventure had dropped off most of their equipment at the Big D's house the day before. At 7:20 with the bikes and equipment all loaded, Earl drove and followed the Big D to the shop to drop off the other van.

It was warm and sunny driving north on I-75. Earl and the Big D traded off driving using rest stops to let everyone stretch their legs. Lunch happened at McDonald's on the north side of Flint, Michigan. Returning to the van the group resumed northbound travel and finally after slightly more than 500 miles arrived at Leelanau State Park at 5:30.

Two sites were found next to each other and the van and trailer were unloaded. Camp was set up in short order. Supper was hot dogs, potato chips, and cookies.

Earl went to help Bob practice shifting gears on the bike after supper. Bob and Earl returned and the group went up to see the lighthouse. Everyone returned to camp and watched a very beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan.

Monday morning saw the group up at 6:30. Breakfast was eggs and sausage, toast, and orange juice. Breakfast was cleaned up and camp packed away in the van and trailer. The cyclists were under way at 8:58 stopping for a group picture at the park entrance sign.

Eight miles from the start was Northport. Earl put air in Ellie Mae's tires and several others. Sid had a flat front tire when his bike arrived at the Big D's house on Saturday. Earl and the Big D put some air in it. Sunday night and it seemed to be OK but did not pump it up all the way. Sid's tire was pumped up to pressure and riding resumed. Sid did not even get one block down the road and his front tire was flat again. Earl fixed Sid's flat and riding was started again.

Earl was riding beside Zeb as the group started up. Zeb's foot slipped off the pedal and into Earl's rear wheel causing it to take on the shape of a potato chip. Sid went to get the Big D who was a short way down the road. The Big D returned shortly after Sid got back. Earl tried to true the wheel, but it was hopeless. Zeb let Earl use his rear wheel. Zeb's bike was put on the trailer. Then Zeb, the Big D and his sidekick left in search of a bike shop to get a wheel for Earl. The group continued on its way.

Sid had another flat at 19 miles into the day's ride (number 2). Earl fixed it and was pumping air into it when it popped again (number 3). It was fixed again and the group was under way. Two miles later, which was one mile past the village of Leland, Sid's front tire went flat again (number 4). It was fixed again. The van showed up soon after that.

Earl gave Zeb his wheel back and put on the new wheel. It was decided that a new rim strip should be put on Sid's wheel. Everything was put back together and the group started down the road to find a place for lunch. Eight tenths of a mile later Sid had another flat (number 5). Sid was not happy.

Ellie Mae said she was tired. Sid's bike was put on the trailer and he rode Ellie Mae's bike while she rode in the van. Twenty-nine miles into the day lunch was had beside the road. Lunch was bologna sandwiches, potato chips, cookies, and plenty to drink. This turned out to be the typical lunch all week.

Continuing on after lunch a pit stop was made for Vern in Glen Arbor. The group rode past some road construction. Vern grazed one of the orange and white construction saw horses. It balanced for a couple seconds then fell over. It was set back up. The riders then went up and down a good sized hill passing another group of cyclists. The bottom of the hill brought us to the entrance of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes was a very nice place. Earl went up to take some pictures. He saw Vern, Eli, Bob, and Sid on his way back. Vern saw Earl but the other three did not. They thought Earl had gone all the way to see Lake Michigan (1.5 miles, three to four hour a round trip).

Having stayed longer than anticipated (it was already 5:30) the Big D decided to load up the bikes and drive the rest of the way to Traverse City. Earl decided to try riding to Traverse City. He got about five and a half miles to the village of Empire when the rain forced him to stop at a gas station. Earl's bike was loaded in the van and the group drove to Traverse City. The road was very hilly. Traverse City was another thirty miles from the Dunes. It would have made the day's riding over seventy miles. The total mileage for the group was 42.4 and Earl had 48. The total riding time for the group was 3:18:45 for an average speed of 12.8 mph.

It was not raining in Traverse City. Supper was started after camp setup was completed. Supper at 9:00 was Swiss steak, baked potatoes and pineapple upside-down cake. Most of the group took showers and then went to bed. Tuesday Earl got the Big D up at 6:30 to get breakfast started. The fire and water people were put to work and soon it was the cooks' turn. Breakfast was French toast and bacon.

Cleanup finished, Bob, Eli, Sid, Vern, Zeb, and Ellie Mae went swimming with Earl supervising. The Big D went to the bike shop to get a couple of tubes for Sid's bike just in case.

The group returned from swimming and Sid's flat was fixed. The air was let out of Sid's tire without him knowing before leaving camp. The road from camp was a four lane highway and very busy. Everyone rode in the van as riding was to begin out of town on county road 597. Sid could not believe his tire was flat again. Sid's tire was pumped up and the group was on the road again at 11:57.

Lunch was in Rapid City at a little park. The group was traveling along the Polar Equator Trail. Outside Rapid City was a big hill but it was not on our route. Bob, Eli, Sid and Earl rode to the top of the hill and back down (fast). Earl hit 41.9 mph on the way back down.

The road followed along Torch Lake. It had some hills but most of the time was good road. Later in the afternoon the Big D and his sidekick had cold Pepsis' for us. Riding on the group passed through the village of Norwood. A short distance after Norwood brought the riders to US 31 where they waited for the van to return. The Big D and his Sidekick went ahead to find the best roads for the group to reach Fisherman's Island State Park. Seeing the hills across the highway the group would be riding, Ellie Mae decided to ride in the van to camp. The remaining distance was hilly like a roller coaster.

Fisherman's Island appeared after 46.7 miles. Since the riders were so close to 50 miles, Vern, Sid, Eli, Bob, and Earl rode another 3.3 miles to finish up 50 miles.

Everyone except the Big D and his sidekick went swimming after setting up camp and starting supper. The water was very cold. The swimmers returned to camp and a supper of porcupine balls, baked potatoes, and cherry cobbler for dessert.

The group was again treated to a beautiful sunset over Lake Michigan. Everybody went to bed about 10:00.

Wednesday morning Earl went over to get the Big D up at 6:30. He answered Earl and went back to sleep. Earl went down to the beach to take a picture of the white caps on the lake. It was very windy, cold and cloudy. Earl returned from the beach and tried the Big D again at 7:00. This time he got up. Breakfast was biscuits and gravy.

The riders went to the State Park sign to get a group picture. On the road at 10:19 leaving Fisherman's Island and passing the Medusa Cement Company. Soon the group was riding in Charlevoix winding around the back streets to stay off US 31 as much as possible. The route was good but a little hilly. Ellie Mae decided she had seen enough hills for a while. Just before lunch Zeb almost got run off the road by an old man who tried to turn right while still beside Zeb.

Lunch was at a little lake side park. Ellie Mae rode again after lunch. Up the road was a deer which Vern tried to take a picture of but it ran across the road. The road started to get hilly again prodding Ellie Mae to get into the van.

The group accused the Big D of trying to find every hill he could in order to get in 50 miles by the time the group reached Petoskey State Park. Sid had a flat (number 6) at 52 miles but it had enough air to get him to camp. The group finally reached camp at 4:30 with 53 miles.

Camp was set up and most of the group went to the beach. The kids found a tire about five feet in diameter buried in the sand. Digging out the tire began. They returned to camp for supper. The campers in the next campsite had some Petoskey stones.

Conversation toward the end of supper became a series of comeback phrases primarily by Sid and Zeb. Hey! Don't! Taunt me no more! Silence!

Returning to the beach after supper, work on the tire resumed, some went swimming, and some Petoskey stones were found. The tire was given up as a lost cause (too big and heavy).

The group returned to camp for showers followed by dessert around a campfire. The cherry cobbler was good. Ghost stories followed. Everybody turned in by 11:00 but did not get to sleep very soon because a camper was playing a guitar (so so) and singing (rather badly) until sometime past midnight.

Thursday saw the group up at 6:30, the pancakes were soon frying on the skillet. Breakfast completed, Sid's flat was patched, a second rim strip applied and it was ready to go. The riders stopped at the sign to take the customary picture and were under way at 9:42.

The Big D and his Sidekick went ahead of us to find a good secondary road to ride. The riders had gone too far and needed to turn around. Sid, Eli, and Bob were in front and missed turning on the road The Big D had checked out. Earl had to go get them. Ellie Mae waited until the riders got out of the heavy traffic before joining them.

Today's route had some large hills but not as bad as yesterday. Zeb decided he needed to rest at 12.3 miles. He rejoined the riders at 19.1 miles. About two miles of the road (C 81) was being worked on. The group had to ride on pavement which had sand and pea gravel on top of tar. Not too bad but not nice either - messy.

The end of Cecil Bay road had a small store which carried almost everything. The guys got some candy bars and pop. Lunch happened about a mile down the road from the store. The mosquitoes and flies were vicious. Approximately 4 miles remained. Wilderness State Park was reached around 2:00 with 35.1 miles.

Sid wanted to finish 50 miles. Camp was set up and Sid, Eli, Bob, and Earl set off to finish the 50 miles. The Big D said to go check out the point, down the road where none of the group had gone yet.

The paved road gave way to a very rough dirt road. The dirt road appeared endless but finally the parking lot was reached. The trail from the parking lot was hard enough to ride a bike on so the four riders continued. There appeared rocks in the trail that had to ridden around. Bob found one and rode over it. Sid rode up to Earl and told him that Bob had potato chipped the rear wheel. Earl hoped the wheel could be fixed. The wheel could be fixed as 3 spokes were broken. Not having a spoke wrench, Earl used a small adjustable wrench to true the wheel enough for it to rotate through the frame. The four riders turned around. Bob was able to ride on the wheel without any difficulty but he took it easy. The Big D said he and the rest of the group would drive down to where the four were going. The four riders did not see them at the parking lot. On the road again, Earl's left crank arm had worked loose. He stopped to fix it and the others continued on. Earl caught up with them and the four rode to the store.

Sid bought candy bars. The candy bars had just been finished when the remainder of the group showed up. The four riders started back to camp with Sid and Earl in front. Eli and Bob decided to take it easy on the way back. The Big D caught up with them and ended up riding about 3 miles with them. The Big D's Sidekick drove the van to camp.

The group went swimming after getting back to camp. Earl went swimming with them after replacing the 3 spokes in Bob's wheel. The water was warmer here but still cold. The swimming gave way to preparation of supper. Earl trued Bob's wheel and put it back on the bike.

Sid and Earl went to find out where to buy fire wood after supper. While at the Ranger Station Earl said something about some patches to Sid. They returned and told the Big D where he could get firewood.

Sid, Eli, Bob, and Earl wanted to go to the boat ramp so Earl could take a picture of the Mackinac Bridge. A couple of girls the guys had met earlier came and talked to Vern and Zeb. On the way back to the campground, Eli was in front of Bob. Bob's front wheel overlapped Eli's rear wheel. Eli started to turn into the campground. Eli stayed up but Bob's bike went down, but Bob stood up and ran out of a certain case of roadrash without a scratch. Bob got back on his bike and the four rode back to camp.

The rest of the group was found on the beach. Sid and Eli went swimming. Another great sunset was in store. The Big D and his Sidekick came to the beach to watch the sunset after getting firewood. The group returned to camp and sat around the campfire for a while.

Breakfast Friday was cheese eggs and sausage. A sea gull stole some cheese and ate it on top of the Big D's van. The Big D was not happy about the gull being on the van making deposits. Cleanup was completed and the group was on the road again at 9:41. Mackinaw City was a short 11.4 miles. The ferryboat took the group and their bikes on an 18 minute ride to Mackinac Island. The group explored the island by bike while the Big D and his Sidekick went on foot. Lunch was to be at 2:00.

During a break riding around the island, somehow Zeb ran into Sid. Everyone who supposedly saw it had a different version of what happened. The result left Zeb with a punctured tire and tube. The spare tires were in the van back on the mainland. A piece of cardboard was found and used as a boot for the tire. Zeb had a spare tube which was used instead of trying to repair the punctured one. It held and the group was able to continue riding.

The group rode back into the city after looking at the site where a fort had been. The shops were checked out and lunch time arrived. The group met the Big D and his Sidekick. A shaded grassy spot was found next to a restaurant. It was the usual lunch but the group was surrounded by sea gulls. Some of the group wanted ice cream after lunch. Ice cream it was plus a little more shopping. The 3:30 ferryboat took us back to the mainland.

On the road again the group started back to camp. Zeb, the rebel that he is, rode off the road. Continuing on, he did it again. That's all it took. His front tire went flat with a bang. Earl put a different tire and tube on Zeb's wheel. On the road again, the group arrived back at Wilderness State Park at 5:17 with 30.6 miles. Ellie Mae rode the entire day with the group.

Sid, Eli, Bob, and Earl rode to Carp Lake and back to end up the day with 52.12 miles. The four made a quick stop at the store on their way to Carp Lake. A deer was seen by the four on the return trip.

Supper was hamburgers and fries. Dessert was an apple (upside- down) cake. The bikes and all the equipment except the tents were loaded after supper. Most of the group went to the beach. Earl went to the ranger station. Earl went to the beach when he got back to take a sunset picture. Eli, Sid, and Ellie Mae were swimming. Zeb and Bob were working on a sand castle. Vern was running around trying to get his camera (locked in the van) to take some pictures of the sunset and beach.

Saturday the Big D and Earl got up at 6:00 to shower. The tents were packed by 7:00. Breakfast was cereal and donuts. The van pulled out at 7:15 for the long journey home. A deer was seen along I-75. Lunch was at McDonalds somewhere along US 23.

A couple of rest stops and a lot of miles down the road, Earl backed the van and trailer into the Big D's driveway at 4:31. The van and trailer were unloaded. The van was then cleaned inside and washed outside. Earl rode his bike home at 5:28. He returned with his car and got the rest of his equipment and went home. Thus ended The Great Michigan Bicycle Adventure.

Earl would like to thank all who participated in this adventure and making it the great time that it was. 

Here are some cycling related links:

Requirements for the Cycling Merit Badge.
A bicycles newsgroup rec.bicycles.rides.
The Global Cycling Network

Special thanks to Assistant Scoutmaster Rick Eppley for writting this.

Last revised: April 4, 1999

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