Our trek across Michigan's gorgeous Upper Peninsula has come to an end this morning. It was such a nice place to bike that I have to admit I felt a bit of sadness as we rode across the Mackinac Bridge this morning. That same sort of soft sadness hit my heart when we turned away from Lake Superior for the last time in Grand Marais, Michigan last week.
I don't mean to mislead you: biking in the UP came with its share of challenges: exceptionally persistent biting flies and some very heavily trafficked campgrounds will linger in my memory. Riding shoddy gravel roads that give way sporadically to sections of un-rideable loose sand, causing the bike to bind and fall in an instant makes an impression. So does the hospitality of strangers who welcome you to share their campsite in a full campground, or those who give you a bed to sleep in at their house, and then drive 90 miles a day later to support you at your performance. There may have been a limited number of groceries to choose from on the shelves of the old small town groceries, but there was no shortage of adventure, no lack of starlight and no deficiency of smiles and laughter as we made our way.
The UP is a great place to bike. The campgrounds are more frequent than possibly any area we've cycled through, and if you can't find a campground, you'll find and abundance of lakeshore and forest where you can spend the night listening to the waves break on the big lake. Additionally, the state of Michigan has taken care to include a wide and rideable shoulder on virtually every major road, which makes navigating easy and riding relatively safe. The "multi-use" trails are probably best considered mountain bike trails. A wide tired touring bike can handle half of them or so, and bike-packers would love them for that reason, but a narrow tired bike is not a good match for the rugged, ATV-churned surface. The Iron Ore Trail into Marquette is an exception to this rule however, and is quite rideable and ends in a 8 mile downhill into the west end of Marquette. Yay for Rail Trails!!
We've also had the good fortune of some absolutely wonderful shows at Algomah Acres Meadery in Greenland, MI, Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette, and at the St. Ignace Public Library. Thanks to everyone who put the shows together and came out to listen!
And now, the pictures!