Day 42 Iron River to Kipling Michigan
Riding on Little Bay De Noc, north of Escanaba
We had some pretty rough weather, mostly at night while I stayed with Dick Boyd in Iron River MI. When it wasn't stormy it was hot - well, what folks around here call hot - and very humid. Sort of like a cool but muggy day in the south. Today was pretty, but still very hot and humid. At 9 AM, when I left Dick's house, it was 80 F and felt, almost, like Louisiana! This is very unusual weather for UP MI, and it has lasted for most of a week. The forecast is for two more days of it, ended, unfortunately, by strong storms moving through the area in which I'll be riding. Since I am from the south and have bicycled in MUCH hotter weather, riding today was nice, if a bit warm.
The road on which Dick's farm is located
My first 1.6 miles of riding was on damp (from the big storms last night) dirt and gravel. It wasn't too much of a problem, but it was messy riding. Dick's dog followed me for that part: I think she is used to going with Dick when he runs from his house to the end of the gravel road and back. Then there was another 4 miles of mildy hilly paved road before I got back to US 2. It was nice riding, although it would have been nicer with half the humidity.
US 2 leaving Iron River going east
US 2 has good pavement for a while east of Iron River, but then reverts back to the old, bumpy, cracked stuff for most of the way to Crystal Falls. It is also pretty hilly and had moderate traffic.
Climbing a hill on US 2 between Iron River and Crystal Falls
I had a pretty light breakfast at Dick's house - Dick had left before I got up to go to a Pottery Show - and I was looking forward to breakfast in Crystal Falls, 22 miles down the road. When I saw a restaurant with lots of cars in the parking lot, I braked to slow down before turning into the lot. My front brake cable broke. No big deal, but I'm glad it picked that time instead of, for example, the time when I had to brake very hard to keep from running into a van in Saskatoon!
I parked my bike and went into the restaurant, but there were half a dozen people waiting to be seated and no empty tables, so I went back out and replaced my brake cable. That took about ten minutes, and, looking into the restaurant, I saw that the same people were still waiting, so I rode on down the road. There weren't any other promising looking places, and I ended up stopping and snacking in the Park at the east end of Crystal Falls where they had a coke machine and bathrooms.
Leaving Crystal Falls on MN 69
If I had continued through Crystal Falls on US 2, I probably could have found another restaurant, but I headed east on MN 69 instead. I had ridden this same route a couple of years ago when I was going to Marquette. 13 miles from Crystal Falls, MN 69 intersects MN 95 and , that time, I went north on 95. There is a truck stop- restaurant - convenience store at that intersection, so I knew I could eat in only a dozen more miles. I stopped for a pastie (a meat pie fast food you can get in central southern Canada and central northern US ), onion rings, and a 32 oz root beer. Burp.
The place to eat in Sagola
MN 69 goes south for five miles on MN 96, before turning east again. This part of the ride wasn't bad, but did have a bit more traffic. After MN 69 is on its own again, the traffic is very light. Since I was riding on a Saturday, there were few trucks on the road, unlike the weekday when I was headed to Marquette.
MN 69 - 95 heading south
Taking MN 96 to Escanaba, rather than US 2, saves six miles and a whole lot of riding with traffic. From Sagola to Escanaba is about 65 miles and there are few services, but it is a very nice road with a good shoulder and little traffic. The services are: 17 miles from Sagola there is a bar/supper club in Felch, there is a convenience store in Foster City, and a bar, and there is a combined convenience store / bar in Perronville. I don't remember other services except for a few more bars along the way. I stopped in Felch for dessert - very limited at the bar/supper club, but a nice bar maid -, along side the road before La Branche, and at the bar/convenience store in Perronville - not particularly nice service, but they did have a decent looking salad bar in the bar section. Services were scarce enough to concern me on this section, and would be even scarcer on a Sunday.
Riding was hot, but nice, with a bit of a tail wind until I got past La Branche when south winds off Lake Michigan began to dominate. I could see that coming in the sky ahead of me where the clouds changed dramatically in an arc. That was good since the clouds behind me where beginning to look like they might become thunder heads. It was also a liitle cooler, if a little slower, to ride with head wind instead of a tail wind. I expected the wind off of the lake to be cooler, but it wasn't. When I got to Escanaba, at 7 PM EST, having changed time zones for the third time on this tour while on MN 69, the temperature was 85 F, about the same as in Iron River. Now, as I sit in my non airconditioned room in Kipling, it is still very warm and muggy. It is strange that a place on the lake is hotter than a place in the woods 100 miles inland!
Just before I reached the end of MN 69, a car pulled up along side me and the driver wanted to talk. Now I had at least half a dozen cars and motorcyclist honk, wave, and otherwise indicate support today, and I had a driver stop to chat the day I rode into Iron River, so I assumed it was someone I didn't know. It was, but only in the sense that we had never met. She asked me is I was 'Boyd' and introduced herself as Dick's girlfriend. They have been together more than five years, and I had hear a lot about her from Dick. I knew she was heading from Escanaba to Iron River today and I had hoped we might meet. We had a wonderful visit by the side of the road that lasted for about 45 minutes. I hope they can come visit my family in Asheville some time.
US 2 heading into Escanaba
I stopped at a Subway in Escanaba for supper and rode on north on US 2. I could have stopped at several inexpensive motels in the northern part of Escanaba, but I wanted to get in another ten miles or so. I had come 100 miles to Escanaba and had at least 120 miles to find to a place stay before reaching St Ignace. There is a 50 mile long stretch with no services after Manistique.
US 2 in Escanaba
I rode north to Gladstone, where I discovered that all the motels were full - this is Saturday in a popular recreational area. After wasting few miles of riding finding that out, I stopped at a full motel and asked for help. They found me this room in a very nice basic motel in Kipling, just north of Gladstone. When I spoke to the owner he warned me 'It isn't air conditioned!' Since I had been sleeping without air conditioning at Dick's and this motel is right on the bay, I figured it wouldn't be a problem. Right now, since it still very hot with no breeze after 11 PM, I think I may have made a mistake. This is weird weather and I'm really glad I'm not trying to ride in the south or central parts of the US where the temperatures are much higher.