Jeff is ecstatic. He is on vacation. He loves to road-bike. He loves the Keweenaw. He is here to bike every day for a week. He plans to do the DalMac (Century ride from Lansing to Mackinac) in September. He is putting on the miles in preparation.
On Day One, Jeff rode solo on 203 to Calumet, then 41 to Five Mile Point road and up to Eagle River. Blue skies, no wind, mid-70’s. This was a 65-mile ride. This made him very happy. He has finally escaped the city!
On Day Two, my time off from work started. I could now put in some miles of my own. We rode out on 41 from Houghton to Chassell and south to Arnheim road. We turned down Arnheim road, rode south, then west to Arnheim, through Askel, then to Tapiola, and then back to Houghton. The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny, around 70 degrees, no wind, no humidity. We clocked 42 miles for the round trip. Within this ride there was a nice 12% grade downhill...we let the bikes fly and clocked 46.2 mph!! On this tour, Jeff was captively subjected to my “stomping ground” stories about former trips down the same route to and from summer horse shows. Later in the day, Charles, Jeff and I convened for a quick mountain bike ride around Pilgrim trails. This added another 8 miles to the total, bringing mileage to 50 for the day. Average speed 14.5 mph.
On Day Three, we drove up to Lake Linden, and rode out from there to Gay and north. This route was an “out and back”. We rode 25 miles along the eastern shore of the Keweenaw. There was a bit more of a headwind today. The air was fragrant. It smelled of pine and fir, making me hum Christmas carols to myself. The humidity was higher; the weather is changing as a front is moving through, and rain is predicted. Toward the end of the ride, we could smell the rain coming. We started our “dash” for the car when we had 5 miles left to go. I figured that we could just make it to the car before the rain would start. Approaching Lake Linden, Jeff yelled, “Let’s race the rain!” We pushed hard all of the rest of the way to the car. Just as we reached the parking lot and dismounted, the heavens opened up. Timing! It was a warm rain, and neither of us minded getting a little wet while stowing bikes on the rack and putting things away. We averaged 15.7 mph, and totaled 50 miles for the day.
Day Four: Copper Harbor Day. Charles, Jeff and I toted our mountain bikes to the trails that travel up and down and around Brockway Mountain. Today was perfect for mountain biking, because it was windy. Too much wind for rowing or road biking = a great day to be in the woods on the trails!!
We started at the trailhead near the community center. Once across the river, it became apparent that this trail was a bit more of a challenge than Jeff was willing to take on. He headed up the road toward Lake Manganese to tour some logging trails. Charles and I proceeded up the mountain and tackled several loops included on the Epic Ride. My impressions: Woopidy Woo: Climbing. More climbing. More climbing. A few bridges. The bridges are quite wide, so more comfortable than expected. More climbing. Lots of sections with roots and rocks, and uphill switchbacks. More climbing. Finally topping out, the view was incredible. Then, some nice swoops, and not so rooty for a while. These forests are older; the timber is larger overall and the canopy is higher. We emerged at the KML, crossed the road, and decended into the woods for the next section. Lots of rocks. Nice to have two shocks now! (Thanks, Arnie....). This was the “Blue Trail”. That blended into Dza Beet, which connected to Here We Go. We finished up with Ma Maki. Finally, we could fly down the hill. Lots of boulders and rocks. Sometimes more than a little dicey! My bike likes to fly down hills. I really like these shocks (Thanks, Arnie!). I am a newly converted fan of disk brakes now (THANKS, ARNIE!). All in all, an exciting trail ride. Charles was quite happy also. He had a small problem with brakes; his new bike is breaking in.
Returning to the trailhead, we took a jaunt across the street to Adventure Sports and had a visit with Ryan, who introduced us to mountain biking two years ago. Then, back to the vehicle to meet up with Jeff, who had had an adventure of his own! He took a header while descending a rock-laden slope. He made a split-second decision to take the trees rather than the rocks, and as it turned out, it was a good thing that he was wearing a helmet! Easier ride indeed...(?)
After a great lunch at the Mariner, we headed out of town. On the way we stopped at XC sports in Calumet for a quick tune-up. Then on to home, satisfied with another great biking day!
Day Five: Rest day for Kirsten. Charles decided to do “Fran” for a workout as he felt he had not done enough in the last week. He did great! It was a PR for him, in time, and in the amount of weight lifted and the amount of kips. Jeff did not want to miss out on biking; so, when we decided to make a picnic at McLain Park, Jeff parked at the park, rode his bike into Hancock, then back to Calumet Waterworks via Lakeshore Drive (where Jeff broke the speed limit of 20 mph by riding 23 mph...hmmmmm...) to Calumet, then back out to the park via 41, just in time for T-bones! Total mileage for the day: 33.5. A STRONG headwind (both ways!?) made the going tough, even though the mileage was light (?!). 14.2 mph average speed. After biking and before lunch, Jeff took a 15-minute dip in the big lake. This was yet another of his many goals completed during this year’s “Tour”. The lake was actually a relief due to the fact that being on the shore on this day meant that you would be sand-blasted. Yes, the wind was that strong! Steak and salad finished the afternoon; this was followed by rock-picking for Mom and Kirsten, reading for Charles and a gallery tour of Calumet for Jeff.
Day Six: Charles did books. Kirsten went to the farm. Jeff saw opportunity knock and made this day his high mileage day. It was bright and sunny, with a bit of headwind, but not as much as yesterday. Jeff drove to Lake Linden to park. The ride ensued. The route: Valley Rd. to Copper City to 41 at Allouez to Ahmeek, then 5-mile point road to 26 to Phoenix (note to bikers: this road has that stupid chip-seal on it that makes biking hazardous to your tubes!) then 41 to Delaware, then down to Bete Grise road to Lac LaBelle. Max speed 43.4 mph into Lac LaBelle. The speed limit was 15 mph, and Jeff felt like a rebel with a cause! Then Lac LaBelle Road to Gay, stopping at Brunette Park. No brunettes today :(, so ever onward to Tobacco River Park (no tobacco here), then into Gay (no gays?) then back to Lake Linden, with a headwind all the way. Four hours, 58 minutes, 72.8 miles (Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!). Average speed 14.5 mph. The last 12 miles brought the average down from 15 mph.
Day Seven: Opera day. A NICE row this morning (best water all week), with eight single sculls on the water! Jeff’s fifth time in a boat, skills now solidly formed, he was out into the canal for the first time. He is anxious to continue learning this fun new sport. Opera in the afternoon; a good time was had by all. The biking was not left out; after dinner, we took a quick mountain bike ride on the Pilgrim trails, and caught the last bit of daylight, letting Jeff take in one last piece of scenery for the week. Jeff says: “I didn’t crash. Yee-haw!”
Stats for the Tour De Jeff:
Total miles: 296.1 (Wow!)
Total crashes: 1
Total scrapes: 2
Total days biked: 7/7
Total flat tires: Zero.
Total dropped chains: 2
Total deer seen: 3.
Total woodchucks: Zero (can you believe it? The curse has been broken!)
Total ruffed grouse: one flock
Total lightening strikes: Zero.
Total speeding tickets evaded: 2.
Total days of fun: SEVEN!