Day 47 Cadillac to Kings Corner Michigan
An interesting barn on M 66
Today was another short day at about 85 miles with 1000 feet of climbing. Today's excuse: rain in the morning. I woke up to rain and it was still raining a little when I left Cadillac just before 11 AM. I only rode for five and a half hours today, and I could have ridden on to Ionia, my original destination, but I saw no point in riding till 8 PM. I want to stop in Madison Indiana, probably for a day, and, given that constraint and where I am now, I can't get there in less than four more days. Madison is 350 miles and I'm not willing to do 120 miles a day <grin>, so why push now, just to make the last day shorter?
Riding on wet M 55, just south of Cadillac
I was planning to ride on M 115, which cuts diagonally down from near where US 131 becomes a freeway to M 66, but, as I was leaving the motel, I got better advice. A fellow who, with his new bride, was loading very fancy MTBs into a trailer, came over to talk as I was putting on my helmet. He and his bride are MTB racers who are honeymooning on the way to a race in Wisconsin. They were going to take the ferry across Lake Michigan today. They had driven into Cadillac from the east on M 55 and said it was a really nice road and I ought to take it over to M 66. So I did.
Heading east on M 55
M 55 starts as the tail end of a freeway just south of Cadillac, but soon becomes a two lane highway with great shoulders. It is smooth and flat and was very easy riding. Moreover, it headed east instead of south, which took me out of the light rain very quickly. South east was into the rain, which was not where I wanted to go! Some ten mile down the road, M 55 T's into M 66, with M 55 heading north on M 66 for five miles or so to Lake City where M 55 heads east again. Those five miles might not be great riding because there is a lot of traffic on M 55, but the next fifteen miles south on M 66 are very nice indeed. I don't know about M 66 north of Lake City, but I'd guess it i also very good riding. It starts at Kalaska, which would avoid the worst stretch of US 131, just south of Kalaska. Of course it would also avoid the lovely stretch of US 131 that is just south of the bad part. If I had to do it again, I'd ride M 66 south from Kalaska.
M 66 heading south, Ionia 94 miles
Although it is half a dozen miles longer to take M 55 to M 66 instead of M 115, I think it is well worth it. Both M 55, because of the great shoulders, and M 66, because of low traffic and good services, are better riding than M 115 which is much more like US 131. The services are at Mcbain and Marion, two very pleasant small towns with all services icluiding camping and motels. Moreover, riding through that part of Michigan made me think I had been transported back to Canada! The drivers were friendly and polite. It felt like riding in a farm state, which this part of Michigan is. Riding US 131 felt like riding in a recreational area used by big city folk. This was soooo much better!
Nice riding on M 66!
It does get busier and hillier farther south
Just before Six Lakes - Pretty
Joined with M 46 for four miles - Ugh, like US 131
Great riding again heading south to Stanton - Nice
I stopped in Marion for lunch, and in Remus for an early supper. Both were nice, but Marion is a really nice and really friendly farming community. Mcbain, where I didn't stop, felt similar to Marion. Once I crossed US 10, about ten mile south of Marion, M 66 lost some of its rural feeling, but was still good riding. By Remus it was getting a lot hillier; the stretch from Remus to Six Lakes had most of the climbing for the day. It is a pretty stretch of road, but the shoulder is a but bumpy and the traffic is heavier than further north. Things do go down to US 131 standards when M 66 joins M 46 for four miles at Six Lakes, but M 66 is great from where it leaves M 46 and heads south again to where I stopped for the night.
Several Michigan bicyclists that I've talked with said M 66 was probably the nicest route south through the LP. It certainly seem that way to me. If I go either east or west, I run into more congestion. To the east it is simply more built up and to the west it is recreational traffic. I think it would be prettier to ride farther west, but also less pleasant. Yesterday a fellow asked me what I listened to as I rode. He was thinking recorded music. I answered: birds and insects, except on US 131 where all I can hear is cars and trucks. Today, on M 66, I got to listen to the birds and insects again. It was nice.