Days 5, 6, and 7: Going home
I’m not sure what’s in Zinc Oxide . . . uhhh, what a minute.
Ok, it’s obviously Magic Lotion. Because mounting the bike on the morning of Day 5 . . . didn’t hurt. I’m not sure if it was the Zinc Oxide, the long bath I took, or the dinner of Cheez-its and Diet Pepsi, but I’m giving credit to ZO.
Day 5 was the first day of the ride that the wind was at my back. The sun was shining bright and warm. The road was flat and smooth. There were no aching body parts. This is what I signed on for!
It was also the shortest ride of the week. 42 miles from start to finish from Rogers City to Alpena. I’d found a Best Western at a reasonable rate. It was a couple of miles off of US 23, but, like I said, the day turned out spectacular so I didn’t mind the extra two miles.
I arrived at the hotel right at 1PM after only 3 hours of riding. A room was ready for me instead of my having to wait until the normal check-in time of 3PM. They had a washing machine / dryer combo which allowed me to catch up on my laundry. They had a rockin’ fast Internet connection, which allowed me to catch up on some blog posts and work emails. There was a great Chinese restaurant literally next door.
Day 5 was just what I needed. I got to bed around 11 and slept in until 8.
I was “back on the job” for Day 6. This was the day I needed to get 65-ish miles to Tawas. When I woke up, I checked the outside temperature. Only 48 degrees. Brrr! I don’t do well bicycle riding in less than 60 degrees . . . and I prefer it to be closer to 70, thank you very much. I decided to wait it out a little bit. At 9:30AM it was only 52, but I had to get going.
I’d been on the lookout for a bicycle shop. I needed to get some air in the tires and I wanted to use a bicycle shop’s pump instead of a gas station’s pump. When I did a search for bicycle shops in Alpena, only two showed up. One of them was an odd combination: bicycles and vacuum cleaners. (Friend of mine quipped, “Ah, things that suck!”) I happened upon it as I was making my way out of Alpena.
The guy running the place was quite knowledgeable about bicycles. (No idea what he knows about vacuum cleaners.) When I arrived he was assisting another customer on whether or not to upgrade a bicycle the customer had bought second-hand. It was interesting to hear the owner talk about proper maintenance of bicycles and how a “properly maintained” bike should be. With each “Let me show you how a properly maintained bicycle operates” he’d use my bike as an example. Showed off the brakes, the gears, the chain, the shifters, calipers.
At one point he said you can be a bike enthusiast but not have a “mechanic’s sense” of what to do with a bicycle. That’s when I raised my hand and said, “Here. I’ve got good mechanics that work on mine.”
Most unusual advice the owner gave the customer? Don’t use lube oil for your bicycle chain. Instead, use wax. I’d never heard of such a thing, so I had to look it up. Seems there are a number of folks who advocate this method. I’ll have to give it a try myself some day.
Like Day 5, the wind was pretty much at my back. Unlike Day 5, though, I had to go through the hills south of Alpena. I had been expecting it. (I’d encountered them going the other way, of course. If it had been a surprise to me, then I shouldn’t be riding by myself.)
I stopped in Oscoda at a McD’s. I wanted to use their free Wifi to search for a hotel in Tawas City. For the first time I was having trouble finding a room . . . at any price. There just didn’t seem to be any availability. I finally just picked up the phone and called a place. “Why, sure, we have rooms.” Huh. Well, smack your IT department around a little bit and update the ‘Net, would ya?
I didn’t want to leave the room once I got in even for dinner. I had a serious Jones for a pizza. I called the front desk for a recommendation. Was told about this local chain that was pretty good. There should be some info about them in the room. I looked around, found it, but it was frustrating information as it didn’t give a lot of details. Plus, it didn’t have a listing for a website anywhere. Who runs a pizza place without a website any more? Look, if I can’t do something online, I generally don’t do it.
They did have a site, but of their six stores, only one of them wouldn’t allow you to order online. You had to call them. Goddammit. You can pretty much guess which one that was.
I started searching around for other places that’d deliver. More out of spite than anything. Met with frustration every where. Either the other places wouldn’t deliver, or they wanted a ton of information that I wasn’t willing to give just to one one fucking pizza from a place that I’ll never order from again. (No, you can’t have my email address. Why don’t you have a guest order option?)
After about 20 minutes I gave up and called the location the front desk had recommended in the first place.
“Hi, I’d like to have a pizza delivered. I’m staying at the Bay City Inn, room 109.”
“I’m sorry, which room was that?”
“Ok, and you are staying at a hotel?”
Pause. “Yes. The Bay City Inn. Do you need the address?”
“Yes, please.” I rattled it off. “What room number was that again?”
Looooooooonger pause. “One. Oh. NINE.”
“So, this isn’t an apartment?”
**CLICK** Jeeez. What hope do I possibly have of getting what I ordered?
I walked up to the front desk and politely suggested they quit recommending that pizza place. The lady behind the counter chirped up with, “Oh, well, that’s not where I’d eat. Here’s the place I liked!”
The pizza arrived 10 minutes earlier than they said it would. They’d brought along a 2 liter Diet Coke, too. (‘Cuz I asked them to bring it!) Either I was starving or that was some damned good pizza. I’m going to go with a little of both.
The weather guys, who haven’t nailed one single forecast correctly yet, are predicting that the temperature tomorrow morning will be 45 degrees.
I don’t care that I’m going home. I can’t ride a bicycle when it’s only 45 degrees outside. I’ve got 55 miles to go. I’m just going to have to wait it out until the sun gets off its ass and knocks some of the chill out of the air.
When I reach the car, it’ll be a five and a half hour ride back home. But just like a line from the Stephen King novel, “The Stand,” where the main characters have had to walk for days, speed will be a novelty all over again. It’ll be nice to travel at highway speeds.
Well, until I get to Detroit and the traffic grinds to a halt.