Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
The Sleeping Bear Dunes tower
over Lake Michigan.

Cyclists enjoy cherries and other fresh fruit near Stoney Lake. Mich.

Cyclists enjoy cherries and other fresh fruit near Stoney Lake. Mich.

Cyclists, including Tom Burns (with blue
helmet), enjoy cherries and other fresh fruit
near Stoney Lake, Mich.

Doug Kaufman photographs fellow cyclists
at Orchard Beach State Park near Manistee.

A field of sunflowers frames my nephew,
Julius Parod, as he travels
from Traverse City to Elk Rapids.

Doug Kaufman and Wilma Lenaway
prepare to watch the sunset at Elk Rapids.

Cyclists reach for goodies that were being
sold by children near Norwood.

My sister, Teresa Parod, and my niece,
Sereana Parod, share a tandem with Julius
Parod in tow while passing the Legs Inn
in Cross Village. Julius is riding "Old
Blue," the Cannondale bicycle I bought
back in 1985.

Sereana Parod soaks in some sun on one
of the beaches at Wilderness State Park.

Ludington power plant

The 2007 West Shoreline route passes
Consumer Electric's Ludington Pumped
Storage power plant along the shores
of Lake Michigan.

Point Betsie Lighthouse
Many cyclists took a short side trip to the
Point Betsie Lighthouse just north of Frankfort.
The lighthouse has been a favorite destination
of mine since my first visit to Michigan in 1989.

Elk Rapids sunset

Spectacular sunsets are common in Elk
Rapids. The land mass at the bottom of the
photo is the Old Mission Peninsula,
located across the East Arm of Grand
Traverse Bay from Elk Rapids.

 

SUMMARY: I'm a frequent visitor to the great state of Michigan, and this ride covers much of the best scenery the state has to offer. The beaches along Lake Michigan are just gorgeous, and it's amazing how clear the water appears to be. Take advantage of the fruit stands and local restaurants along the way, and try the fried smelt!

RIDE WEB SITE:http://www.lmb.org

West Shoreline Tour: Michigan

1997 | 2004 | 2007

Bruised, but not Broken: 1997

The West Shoreline Tour was the second part of my "easy" year of bicycle touring, but it turned out to be anything but easy.

I had planned to ride most of the ride with my friend Vicky Mohler, and things started out fine Sunday morning as we headed out of Holland High School. Bubba Barron saw us riding by and called out, "Whaddya pushing?"

And, as we have done since the Grand Canyon tour, I responded, "My big fat ass!"

About 10 miles into the ride, an obnoxious Cadillac driver with a Florida license plate loudly honked his horn as he drove past us as close as he possibly could. Vicky got startled and went off the road, She tried to get back on the road, she caught the lip of the road and fell. I was following too close to stop, so I rode over her ribcage and fell on my left arm, shoulder and the left side of my face. We both managed to crawl to the side of the road until the ambulance arrived. Bubba came up behind us a few moments after the fall, checked up on us and directed traffic.

When we got to the hospital in Grand Haven, they put Vicky and me on neighboring beds in the emergency room. After going through a series of X-rays, the doctors determined I had no broken bones but that Vicky had two broken ribs. Her ride was done, and she had to stay in the hospital. I ended up with eight stitches, and they let me go.

I sat out the second day's ride between Muskegon and Ludington, but the support van stopped by a delicious fruit stand near Stoney Lake and a good restaurant in Pentwater.

I felt good Tuesday, so I decided to do the 70-mile ride between Ludington and Frankfort, knowing that it would be some of the best scenery Michigan had to offer. By the end of the evening, I would find out the reason I was feeling good was the Tylenol 4 the emergency room doctors gave me.

I finished the entire ride, and after a filling dinner, it was time for a nap. A woman noticed me breathing irregularly, and it took her several minutes to wake me from my nap. By that time, another set of paramedics were watching over me. They decided it was time for a CT scan, but the nearest hospital was in Traverse City, about 40 miles away. Bubba and several other folks joined me on the ambulance for the trip to Traverse City. The tests were negative.

"So they took a CT scan of your head and found nothing there, huh?" Bubba said.

I sat out the fourth day of the ride, from Frankfort to Suttons Bay. That was a shame, because that was the best day for scenery on the ride. Cyclists have the option of taking the seven-mile Pierre Stocking Road in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There's some steep hills, but the views of the lake and the dunes are worth the effort. I have visited the dunes several times, and a photo from an earlier visit appears above.

I rode about half of the Thursday ride, from Suttons Bay to Elk Rapids, two thirds of the Friday ride, from Elk Rapids to Petoskey and all of the ride from Petoskey to Mackinac City. Someday, I would like to bike the whole thing.

As for Vicky, she left the hospital after a couple of days. Despite her broken ribs, she drove all the way from Holland to Chicago to see a friend. She's one tough woman!

Better Luck the Second
Time Around: 2004

The biggest question as I entered into the 2004 West Shoreline Tour was whether I would get to ride the entire distance. If you read the above account, you know that I missed two full days or riding and parts of three other days because of the accident I had with my friend, Vicky Mohler, about 10 miles into the tour.

The other question that I faced is how I was going to balance my time between my friends Doug Kaufman, Bubba Barron and my older sister, Teresa Parod, and her children, Julius and Sereana. This was the first weeklong tour I had done with my sister since the 1985 Bicycle Across the Magnificent Miles of Illinois ride from Chicago to Edwardsville.

I knew my cycling speed would more compatible with that of Doug than Teresa, Julius and Sereana, so I figured I would spend more time in camp with my relatives and see more of Doug on the road.

The West Shoreline Tour no longer starts in Holland, as it did in 1997, but instead started in Spring Lake. That meant, of course, that I wouldn't crash on a road near Holland as I did in 1997.

But 10 miles into the 2004 ride, I had another incident. This time it was a flat tire. I put in a new intertube, but my tire pump grabbed onto it too hard as I removed the pump from the valve, causing another flat tire. Fortunately, I had another tube and put it on the bike. About that time, a SAG driver passed me and stopped. I decided to take advantage of her floor pump to make sure I got the tire up to 120 pounds and to avoid another flat caused by my frame pump.

The rest of the first day's ride went smoothly. Most of the tail end of the ride took place on the Hart-Montague Trail, an old railroad right-of-way. Doug enjoyed it so much that he went back and ran six miles of it. That caused Wilma Lenaway, one of Bubba's Pampered Pedalers from Indiana, to question Doug's sanity.

The next day took us from Hart to Manistee, complete with more beach scenery. Doug and I took a side trip to Ludington State Park. We thought about a hike to the lighthouse, but we decided to forego that when we thought about the possibility to hiking two miles in sand dunes with cycling shoes.

Once in Manistee, I went off with Pete and Denise Petersen to explore the town. We were intrigued by some of the old buildings, and suddenly, one of the occupants seeing a bunch of cyclists in town invited us in to tour the building.

Day three took us into Beulah, a town that has a special place in my heart. A fall 1989 visit to my friends Paige St. John and Steven Wayne Rotsch turned me into a Michigan fan for life. Steve and I spent time photographing the Point Betsie Lighthouse and other scenes near Sleeping Bear Dunes, and all three of us visited Mackinac Island.

Those memories prompted me to propose a field trip to the Point Betsie Lighthouse for sunset. Bubba let me borrow his truck, and I took a group of people to the lighthouse. We missed the sunset by a few moments, but we stayed long enough to see the lighthouse's beacon go on.

We had a short and a long option for the trip from Beulah to Traverse City. Teresa, Serena and Julius went for the short version. Doug and I went for the long version. We were treated to great views of Sleeping Bear Dunes. The last few miles into Traverse City were tricky because of heavy traffic. My understanding that there is a bicycle trail being built into Traverse City and that future Shoreline tours will be able to avoid the traffic problems near Traverse City, a popular tourist destination.

We had short and long option days. I decided to take the short option so I could ride with my sister and her kids. Teresa was feeling sick much of the day and had to stop several times. She told Julius to ride ahead with me. Julius was riding my 1985 Cannondale (Old Blue) and cruised up the hills just fine.

Sereana rode in the back of a tandem with her mom, but Teresa says she did much of the work. That's because Sereana had a tendency to take her feet off the pedals and play hand puppets instead of pedaling. Sometimes, Sereana would ask her mom to go faster, but when Teresa looked behind her, she often would catch Sereana with her feet on the handlebars. I had to remind Sereana that if she wanted to go faster, she had to do some of the work.

Over the course of the next few days we would see plenty of Lake Michigan, which always is a worthwhile sight. The final day of the ride for most people was from Petoskey to Mackinaw City, complete with a ride through the "Tunnel of Trees," Michigan Route 119.

As a bonus, the ride featured an extra day in which people could take a ferry to Mackinac Island and bike some more. The riding was fairly flat and slow, thanks to the numerous people riding single-speed bikes making their way around the island. Non-emergency motor vehicles are banned from the island, meaning the only ways to get around are by bicycle, by horse-and-carriage or by foot.

On Saturday night, several of us who were part of Bubba's Pampered Pedalers took cars back to Cross Village, where we ate Polish cuisine at the Legs Inn, watched the sunset and listened to the Tangerine Trousers, a regional alternative country band. The band broke up in the winter of 2004, but the songwriting team of C.J. and John Milroy is still active. Give them a listen!

Relief from the heat: 2007

There's plenty of reasons why I have done the West Shoreline Tour three times in the past decade and done seven trips of two or more days in Michigan in the past 15 years.

As you probably noticed from the pictures, there's plenty of great scenery to be found in Michigan, and that's the primary reason I pay so many visits to the Wolverine State.

But the reality is that when I have to take my biking vacations in July or August, I prefer going north to places like Michigan, Wisconsin or Canada to beat the heat and humidity of the St. Louis area, where I live.

For example, here were the high temperatures during the week of the 2007 West Shoreline tour:

It wouldn't be a West Shoreline Tour for me if there wasn't a bit of drama within the first 10 miles of the trip. In 1997, my friend Vicky Mohler and I collided. In 2004, I had a flat tire.

In 2007, the drama fell somewhere in between. About 10 miles into the ride, just before we arrived in Muskegon, my right crank fell off my bicycle.

I knew there were some bottom bracket problems before the ride, but they took place too late for me to get them fixed beforehand but the bike repairman thought it would last through the ride.

Wrong. The portion of the bracket that connects the crankarm to the rest of the bracket split in two. Fortunately, the mishap took place on a flat portion of the ride, and I was able to stop the bike without falling.

I had to be sagged up to Muskegon, where the ride's bike mechanic, Dave Moss, was stationed. Dave managed to find a bottom bracket that would fit my bike, put it on at a nominal fee and got me back on the road.

Overcast skies after a heavy morning rainfall kept the temperatures cool; I was able to ride with a long-sleeved jersey all day long.

Once again, I used my good friend Bubba Barron's Bubba's Pampered Pedalers service. It figures that on the final hill of the day in Montague, Bubba would be passing me.

"Whaddya pushing?" Bubba yelled out his window.

"My big, fat ass up the hill!" I exclaimed, repeating our running joke that started with our bicycle tour in Arizona in 1996.

The second day was reasonably uneventful, other than a stop for a delicious cherry turnover and a doughnut at the Cherry Point Farm and Market. They sure do make a tasty cherry turnover at Cherry Point, and they're quite cheap at a $1.50 per turnover!

Day three had our biggest hills of the trip, including the climb of M-22 near Arcadia. I predetermined that I probably would need a leg massage after that day, and I was right.

Later that night in Frankfort, Bubba marked the 10th anniversary of my accident by retelling the story of my second ambulance trip of the 1997 ride, from Frankfort to a Traverse City hospital.

"Roger probably is the only person who had more miles in an ambulance than on the bike," Bubba said.

My masseuse warned me to drink plenty of water after the massage, and I thought I had. But the next day's ride from Frankfort to Traverse City proved I had not.

I made it through, but not without a lot of stops for rest and loading up on water. It was not a good day, and it was a pattern it would repeat itself much of the rest of the week.

In retrospect, I blame that on a lack of a good training base before the ride. An increased workload with the Tour de Stooges ride that I lead each year in Southwestern Illinois cut into the time I had in March, April and May to ride. Normally, I get a strong base in during those months before the hot, humid weather kicks in, but that didn't happen this year.

While I was less-than-thrilled with my bicycling this trip, that didn't stop me from enjoying the scenery on this ride.

I had one more mishap on the 2007 edition of the West Shoreline Tour. The tour is well-marked, but I managed to miss a turn near Elk Rapids and wound up in Alden, on the opposite end of Torch Lake that I needed to be on. The only good thing about missing the turn is that I got to visit the Muffin Tin, a favorite stop for muffins featured on the DALMAC route.

In the end, I still felt a sense of accomplishment after completing the 2007 ride, but only because I finished it in Mackinaw City despite being poorly prepared for the ride.

But there's no doubt I'll be back someday. After all, it's still Michigan and it still gets hot in St. Louis during the summer.