In a previous post I mentioned I change my itinerary on a daily basis.  Hell, I think I’ve got that down to an hourly basis some times.

When I first conceived of this ride, I’d planned on riding from Columbus to the top of 23.  I’d then grab a Greyhound bus (out of Petoskey) and have it drop me back off in Columbus.

There more I looked at that plan, the more it looked like I was going to ride everywhere except on US 23.

You see, starting in north Ohio, around the Findlay / Toledo area, 23 starts flirting with Interstate 75.  By the time you get to the Michigan border, 23 and 75 are the same road.  You can’t ride on the Interstate with a bicycle.  (Not in Michigan, at least.)

23 and 75 stay hooked up until a little north of Bay City, Michigan.  Then 23 juts out due east to Lake Huron, followed by a 90 degree turn north all way to the top of the Lower Peninsula.  Since my goal was to ride 23 to its end, I figured I’d “cheat” and just drive to Bay City.  I’d worry about the mid-section of 23 that I hadn’t ridden for another day.  (There’s still a huge part of 23 through the South I’ve got to tackle some day, too.)

It’s about 220 miles from Bay City to Mackinaw.  If I wanted to ride for a week, I needed to add more miles to the route.  I tinkered with the idea of going south down the western side of Michigan, along the Lake Michigan side.  Take US 31 all the way to Ludington (a very nice little beach town where I spent some time a year ago) then cut back across on US 10 to Bay City.

All that added up to over 550 miles.  Nearly 80 miles a day.  I just didn’t think my body could stand seven consecutive 80 mile days.

I changed my mind once again.  Decided to just go back the way I came.  But the places I’d stopped on the way up were the logistically logical ones . . . based on where the hotels were in the towns I  thought I could reach.  If I follow the same route back, then I’m going to wind up stopping in the same places.  When I’m on a ride, I want to see different things.  I’m already breaking that rule by backtracking on the very same road.  Let’s not stop in the same towns, too.

Earlier, I’d asked Spud how she’d feel about my taking a day off.  But was there any reason I had to take the day off in Mackinaw?  No, not really.  Might as well get a head start on Tuesday’s ride . . .by riding on Monday!  If I could do 50 miles, I’d make it to Rogers City.  Instead of having to do 90 miles on Tuesday to get to Alpena, I could break it up.  50 on Monday (my “day off”) and then just 40 on Tuesday.  Two relatively easy days of bicycling.  From Alpena, 60+ days to get to Tawas.  Tawas to Kawkawlin (and my car) was another 55.

It seemed the key to it all was getting back to Rogers City on Monday, my tired aching body be damned.

Did I mention the fucking wind?

2014-05-23 10.08.27

For three solid days in a row the wind had been coming out of the north, beating the shit out of me.  Now that I was heading south, shall we see a show of hands guessing which direction the wind had shifted to?  (C’mon, let’s not always see the same people guessing.)

Day 4 was an exercise in pain management.  In all the thousands of miles I’ve ridden, I’ve never had this much pain in just sitting on the bicycle.  I don’t know if I pushed myself too hard on the first day, causing some sort of injury that I hadn’t given my fat old bod a chance to heal.  I don’t know if it was the extra exertion required to fight the wind.  (Legs using the butt as a brace / arms using the butt as a brace.)  I was having to stand on the pedals to shift how I was sitting every 2/10 to 3/10ths of a mile.  That doesn’t give you a smooth ride.

Had to do something.  At one point I stopped at a deserted roadside park.  Well, deserted until I showed up.  Then it was like a warning beacon went off:  Man planning on playing with stuff in his pants!  

Cars came from everywhere and they all wanted to park right where I was standing.

When all the gawkers departed — I started ransacking through my laundry to find a pair of socks.  As soon as I put them in my pants, I looked like this:

sockpants

Then I put the socks in the back of my pants.  I looked more like this:

pants

I have to admit, though, the extra padding did help.

I finally rolled into Rogers City and booked at room at The Captain’s Quarters.  There were prepared for my Wifi questions, but they weren’t ready for a guy who needed a bathtub.

“Well, uhh, the room we gave you has a ‘Showww Wer,” she said slowly, as if talking to an idiot.  (Which she was.)

“I’m sure it does. But I need a baaaath tub. After riding all day long, it helps the muscles in my legs to soak them in warm water.”

“Well, uhh, the only room we have that has that doesn’t have a box.”

Blank stare from me.  I paused a couple of beats, then asked, “A box?”

“Yes, we’re going digital.”

Yet another blank stare from me.

“Well, we’re going digital and replacing all the cable boxes in the rooms.  The room with the bath doesn’t have a box.”

“Hon, if the room’s got Wifi and a bathtub, trust me that I’ll never turn on that television.”

Her turn to give me a blank look.  As if to say, “In addition to not knowing what a shower is, you don’t come to hotels for the HBO experience, either?  I’ll be calling 911 as soon as you’re out of the office.”

fuckingweird

After sorting it all out and settling into the room, I took off again.  This time I went to the drugstore I’d spotted.

Must have been a slow night.  The pharmacist and the cashier we just hanging out in front of the store.  I mentioned that I’d been bicycle riding for about 8000 miles (give or take, y’know) and that I was suffering from what could best be described as diaper rash.  I’d take any advice and buy nearly any product to make it stop hurting.

They kicked around a couple of ideas.  I told them I was a zealot of Bag Balm but that particular product wasn’t doing its usual mojo for me.  The cashier had heard of it, professed to using it on the cattle farm where she grew up, and countered with Anti Monkey Butt, which neither I nor the pharm had ever heard of.  He weighed in with good old Zinc Oxide.

The pharm and I headed back to where the cashier said the first-aid stuff was located.  We couldn’t find Bag Balm (not that we were looking for it) or Simian Ass.  (Artistic Renaming Patent Pending.)  I settled for a generic tube of ZO.  Picked up some Cheeze-Its, Lay’s Sour Creme and Onion Chips, and a few soft drinks and headed back to the room to call it a day.