I really should get a hard-copy map of Michigan. I used google maps bike routing to select a route between Ludington and Clare, Michigan. I leave my iPad on so that the map will open even if I have a weak signal. Unfortunately, my last strong AT&T wireless signal was in Wisconsin the previous night. Today, the app would open but only the blue routed line would appear; no roads, no towns, no nothing, just a blue line on graph paper.

I boarded the SS Badger at 0100 hours today on the other side of Lake Michigan in Manitowoc. I was sleeping on the ground until the ferry arrived, then after we disembarked, I laid down in the state room I rented and tried to get a few more hours of shut-eye.

It was hot, I was sweaty, the fan was running, the window was open. I could hear the wake pulsing alongside the hull and I could feel the rumble of the steam powered, coal fired engines. The EPA is expected to rule soon if the Badger can keep dumping their coal ash into Lake Michigan. A negative ruling may cause operations to cease. Ships like the Badger were originally built to carry railroad cars. Before the ships, they had to unload a rail car, load the cargo onto a boat, then reload it onto a rail car on the other side of the lake. The ships could carry 24 rail cars and the rails on the Badger are still visible. Too soon, a knock came on the door; “20 minutes till Ludington!” I was exhausted as I dragged myself out of bed and into my cycling kit. I am now in the Eastern time zone and I watched the sun rise over Michigan.


My only direct choice to Clare was Route 10. I get the impression that Michigan drivers do not like cyclists on their roads, especially if there is no shoulder. They probably think the sidewalk is fine, but it is poorly maintained, full of debris and glass, and the curb cuts are steep and severe. So without hesitation, I got off of Route 10 as soon as I could and went looking for the bike trail that Google told me was there. Somewhere.

I knew I was in trouble when I asked the woman jogging on the dirt road if this was the road to Baldwin She had never heard of the place. So at a crossroads, I whipped out my iPad and the blue line appeared. Just the blue line. But the blue line turned right and left and I could sort of guess where I was based on previous turns I had made. Eventually, I made it to Baldwin, only to find out the the bicycle trail is a dirt snowmobile trail. But I was told that it would be paved in the next town, Reed City. The store clerk told me that Baldwin would not pave a snowmobile trail because snowmobiles don’t need pavement. I just purchased my Gatorade and left it at that. And got back on Route 10.

At mile 50 (40 of it on the main drag) I found the paved bike trail in Reed City. They told me it was paved for 12 miles to Evart, but after that, no one knew. I was amazed when after 41 miles on the wonderful, isolated, quiet, once -in-a-while shaded, rail trail, it ended almost in downtown Clare.


I rode 95 miles between towns today, including those I got confused about. I rode that far because I knew I would be on the road very early as they kicked me off the ferry at 6:00 a.m. My first pedal stroke this morning was met with resistance from my old friend, Mr. Headwind, who has been with me since Minneapolis. And it was hot today, real hot, and very sunny. I was stopping and quenching, but it takes forever to get anywhere when the best you can do is 12 miles an hour, and usually less than that. At mile 80, everything on me was hurting. I knew I was almost to Clare but I really needed a rest. I found a shady oak tree, took off my shoes, ate some Fig Newtons, and then did something that I have never done while cycling. I laid down on the grass and I fell asleep! I don’t know how long I was snoozing; it could not have been more than 15 minutes. I was groggy when I restarted but quickly found some energy and rode with confidence into town. I will have to try that again.


Bonus photo; the local bakery has been in constant operation since 1896. It was weeks away from closing when members of the local police department banded together to save the shop.