July 11, 2010
Our plan yesterday was to take the Mackinaw – Gaylord bike trail, a converted railway corridor. We got onto it shortly after leaving the campground.
The gravel was hard-packed, but it was still gravel, and slow. After a few miles of trail, we switched over to highway 27, which parallels the trail, at least some of the way. There wasn’t much breakfast at the campground, so we stopped at the first place we saw in Cheboygan. Elliot noticed the sign that said “Deep Fried Pizza.” The Yeck Drive-In still has actual carhops. One of them explained to us that the Deep Fried Pizza is like a Pizza Pocket. She said that if we sat in the shaded pavilion, she could bring our food to us.
Elliot had the Deep Fried Pizza, which turned out to be substantial. I had the Olive Burger. I was surprised that it was not black olives, but green olives, in the sauce. As far as I know, this is the only place serving such a thing. It was wonderful. Elliot had a very filling marshmallow shake, and I had a chocolate malt.
This couple joined us in the pavilion a little later. Roger and Mayra have been married 40 years. They went on the inland passage cruise to Alaska for their anniversary.
Before leaving Cheboygan, we stopped at McDonald’s to sync to the internet. While we were there, the real Ronald McDonald walked in. Elliot got a video with his flip. Ronald travels with a handler, who was glad to take our picture with my camera.
At Topinabee (TAW-pin-a-bee), I was trying to decide whether we could continue on the highway, or had to start taking the bike trail. We are riding without the benefit of the Adventure Cycling maps for the next few days, using just Google maps. I was talking to a couple on bikes outside a store, when the store owner came out and handed me a booklet on the Michigan North Central State Trail. Her name was Janice, and she and her husband owned ABC Rustics in Topinabee. A while back, he built a log cabin on their 100-acre lot, and enjoyed it so much, that they now make furniture out of Alder, Birch, and Cedar (hence the name). They don’t even need to buy wood; enough grows on their land.
We followed highway 27, under Interstate 75, and into Downtown Indian River, where we picked up the bike trail again. Just a quarter mile in, at 3:30 pm, I heard an explosive BOOM! PING! Rear tire had blown out. In fact, the tire was torn. I had expected 2000 miles from my expensive tire, but it blew after just 1300 or so. I lined the tire with a boot, and hoped that it would hold. Indian River looked sort of big, so we doubled back to see if we could find a bike shop with a replacement tire. We stopped at McDonald’s for the Wi-Fi access, and found that there were no bike shops in Indian River, and in fact, none for miles and miles. There would be none in any of the cities further down the trail, except at Gaylord, the terminus, 30 miles away.
At 5:00 pm, 3 miles before Vanderbilt, BOOM! PING! Same tire, slightly different place. There were no easy solutions. I decided to go through the time-consuming operation of swapping the front and back tires. and using another boot (I had brought 3). At least it was somewhat shaded, and there was no car traffic. Elliot went on into Vanderbilt, since I was going to be a while. There was cell service, so we were never out of touch.
All I could do was go slow, and hope it would hold another 13 miles to Gaylord. The last patch held for 10 miles only. We went over a number of small bridges. From one of them some college age kids were jumping into the river 20 feet below. The river seemed shallow to me. I asked how deep it was, and a girl in a bikini told me about 6 feet.
About 5 miles out of Gaylord, we saw a bunny in the distance.
A few more miles, and Elliot was getting far ahead of me on the trail. I actually encountered a jogger going the other way. She said we were technically already in Gaylord, but it was 3-4 miles to downtown. Great! Even if I had to walk the bike, it was close enough. It was 8:30 by the time we reached downtown. The tire had held out.
Once in town, I opened the laptop in McDonald’s (again) to search the internet for Motels. Too many fancy ones. There was a place called the Downtown Motel that looked more reasonable. I was concerned that it might turn out to be the kind of transient hotel in Blues Brothers, but it was actually fine. Free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast. $52 a night, and we checked in for two days.
We did 65 miles for the day, but those were hard miles over gravel, and with bike trouble.
Rest Day, Elliot’s Birthday
July 11, 2010 5:00 pm
On the internet this morning, I looked for churches near the motel. I found Community Church on hwy 32 nearby, with services at 9 and 11. Elliot wanted to sleep in. I went to the front office to get continental breakfast, which consisted of coffee, a jug of Sunny D, and 4-packs of mini-donuts. Very basic. But the room was inexpensive, and it had internet, so I was happy.
At that time, I noticed that there was First Congregational Church just one block away, but their service was at 10 am, and it was too late to get over there. For some reason, that church didn’t show up on Google.
We went down highway 32, back and forth, but couldn’t find the church, even though we had an exact address, and knew it was near the Home Depot. Oh, well.
That torn tire still was in my thoughts, the thump-thump-thump reminding me on every revolution that the boot couldn’t hold much longer. We went to MC Sports, but they had only bicycle tubes, no tires. We tried Dunham Sports, but the only tires they had were 26-inch mountain bike tires. The final stop was at Alphorn Sport Shop. Duane had exactly two 700 x 35 tires left. I wasn’t sure they would fit on my rims, so he let me try one on before buying it. He also helped change the tires, and tightened that loose head bearing on my bike that had been bothering me for a couple weeks. Labor charge: $0.00 If you’re on long range tour, Alphorn is the place.
We were considering going to a movie, but there were occasional rumbles of thunder, and intermittent spatterings of rain. For most of the day, we just stayed in the room watching TV, or on the internet. I wrote a few postcards.
Not many places except fast food and bars were open nearby for dinner. Sugar Bowl was the exception. Elliot had Lemon Rice Soup and the Whitefish Dinner, while I had Swiss Onion Soup and Perch. Usually, we don’t get dessert, but this time, we split a Greek Rice Pudding.
Mileage for Sunday: 6.0