The day started a lot earlier than yesterday. I was up at 6:15. Checked the temperature right off the bat. Was a balmy 48 degrees. I’d checked the hour-by-hour forecast last night and saw that by 10 it was expected to be north of 60 degrees. Fair enough. I could put in 3 hours of sub-60 degrees.

There was a big difference starting out today than yesterday: the sun was on the job. Big and bright, with a promise of delivering more skin cancer than I could shake a melanoma at.

I’m not an early riser by any stretch of the imagination. I can stay up until the wee hours / dawn, but I’m not big on getting up with the birds. (That might be one of the reasons the simple-minded — and politicians, but I’m repeating myself — are referred to bird-brains.) But I have to admit one of the nicest things about riding a bicycle in the hours right after sunrise is the quiet. Not many people are stirring. The day is fresh, still maybe dew-moist. The sun’s checking its email and hasn’t turned up its furnace just yet.

And the day’s wind is still finishing its first cigarette and cup o’joe.

But that didn’t last long. Within 45 minutes the wind started back up again. The forecast had called for 8 MPH speeds . . . at sunrise. By 8AM, they’d gone back to 15 to 20 MPH . . . and as they’ve done over the last three days, the wind is coming right straight out of the north. Which just happens to be the direction I’m heading.

Yes, it’s been blowing this hard from the north for at least three days. When I drove up on Thursday night I noted the wind direction / intensity. Figuring the wind’d get it out of its system before I starting riding. Since, y’know, most places the wind goes east / west. Not a steady northern gale.

Knowing the toll my legs paid fighting the damned wind yesterday, I decided to ratchet down considerably. Use lower gears. Bend over the handlebars in “racing mode” to lessen the sail-area / resistance. To give you an idea of just how strong the wind was blowing, on one downhill part that I should have easily been crusing at 15 to 17 MPH, the wind had slowed me to 9. I don’t know how much slower I would have gone. I just shook my head and starting pedaling . . . to go downhill.

Ever since I started riding I’ve averaged about 13.2 miles per hour. I’m not speed racer, but it gets the job done. When you toss in breaks — cuz I’m old! — it’s an effective 10MPH. In other words, if my destination is 50 miles away, I know it’s going to take me 5 hous to get there, factoring in stopping every 20 miles or so.

Gotta admit, though, either my precautions worked well or my legs just didn’t feel like bitching today. They’re fine. Didn’t hear a peep of complaint from my legs.

Today I’d expected to ride 70 miles. I started at 7AM. At my “normal” speed, I should have arrived at my destination at 2PM. Turns out I only had to go 62 miles. Should have arrived a little after 1.

I didn’t get here until 3:30. The wind cut that much speed off. I averaged a little over 10.5 MPH riding speed.

But I also can’t lay all the blame on the wind. There was one body part that’s literally lives up to the phrase, “pain in the ass.”

‘Cuz that’s where it hurts the most. My legs couldn’t do their job most effectively because I kept having to stand on the pedals. At one point I was having to stop every miles just to get off my ass. At about the 50 mile point I started thinking about raiding my dirty laundry for a sock. I’d stick it down the back of my biking pants just to get a little more cushion.

I settled for adjusting the pants a little bit. I pulled them up from the back so the cushion-y part would cover the “pained parts.” It’s not a permanent solution, but it helped get me through the last 12 miles.

Tomorrow I’m headed to Cheboygan. Another 70 miles. That’ll put me about 15 to 20 miles fromt my goal: the north end of US 23.

A family I contacted through Warm Showers has agreed to let me stay. Unfortunately, as of right this second, I’ve no internet connection or even a phone signal. I can’t reach them to let them know what my plans are. I’ll have to find a McDonalds for their WIFI tomorrow morning.

Then I’ve got to make a pretty major decision. My original plans when I started was to go around the top of Michigan. North on 23. South on US 31 down the western side of the state. When I get to Ludington, I’d head across on US 10 back to Bay City / Kawkawlin. The problem with that is it’ll extend the trip to 8 days of riding. My youngest, bless her heart, has pretty much put her life on hold to watch my weasels. The sooner I can get back and relieve her, the better off she’ll be.

So the alternative plan would be to tag US 23 out at home, then back track south. Go right back the way I came. But stop in some different places along the way. (And hopefully the wind’ll be at my back for a change . . . though I’m not counting on it.) I can finish in 6 or 7 days instead of 8, then head back home to relieve Spud.

I’ve got a ton of pictures to upload (and a world of good things to say about “The Fireside Inn” that I’m staying tonight on Presque Island.) But I have no phone signal and I’m running on AT&T “Edge” internet connection. For those of you who’ve ever had to connect that way, you’ll wish for the days when you blazed along on 56k dial-up speeds.