Day 47 Kings Corner to Sturgis Michigan
Starting out. A pretty day and it stayed that way
Yesterday, I partially justified my short day by saying there was no point in doing long days, since I'd have to do three consecutive 120 mile days to get to my next destination, Madison Indiana. I did my routing for today based on stopping after 90 miles. Well, reality sometimes interferes with my plans. The place I planned to stop, Athens MI, had no place to stay. The next place that did was 25 miles further on. So I rode 115 miles today instead of 90. It was a beautiful day for riding, I had tail/side winds almost all the time and was able to average 14.5 mph, so my long day took less than 8 hours of, mostly very enjoyable, riding.
What a shoulder!
I'm at a motel on M 66 right now, about two and a half miles from Indiana and the south end of M 66. I must say the fifteen miles just north of Sturgis are some of the best riding on M 66. There is a good reason for that: There is an Amish, or some folks I can't tell from Amish, area from about eight miles north to about fifteen mile north. The shoulder is used by their buggies and, even all the way into Sturgis, you can see traces of the horse droppings and the wheel tracks. Amish country is usually good bicycling country, and this stretch certainly was! It was nice to have pretty, gentle, country with good folks in it for the last fifteen miles of my ride. I wasn't always that blessed today <grin>.
M-66 south of Ionia before the interstate - it got worse
Most of the day, M 66 was good to excellent riding, but the worst sections, half a dozen miles south of Ionia and just before the interstate and the last seven miles before Battle Creek were pretty bad. Michigan certainly is not as bad as some states, which I won't name for fear of offending their residents, but the there were sections of M 66 where the politics or ?? make for insane road conditions. The section of M 66 between Ionia - a nice town by the way - and I-96 is the most heavily traveled section, yet the road is in lousy condition and the shoulder is barely rideable. The road is actually in even worse condition, and the shoulder isn't rideable, just south of Nashville, another very pretty town, but the traffic there is light enough that you can ride in the lane. You can't ride in the lane between Ionia and I-96 and you can barely ride some parts of the narrow, broken up, shoulder, yet there is an almost constant stream of heavy traffic in both directions which includes lots of big trucks. This is not fun, nor is it a safe road to ride. The road has been redone very nicely in many areas where there is little traffic, while some of the highest traffic areas have been severely neglected. Coming into Battle Creek, the shoulder goes from great to unrideable and back, several times in five miles. What is going on here?
One of the many old cars I saw today
My ride started at 9 AM, with great weather and a good shoulder, but more traffic than I like. I could only hear the birds and the insects 25% of time, the rest I spent listening to cars and trucks. Speaking of cars, there must have been some kind of car show or tour going on M 66 since I saw a large number of old and interesting cars. I realized today (duh!) that all the Route 66 diner memorabilia I've seen in the place where I have eaten is because, this is route 66. Not US 66, but close enough to make a tie in. I bet the car thing ties in with that as well.
I ate breakfast at a café across for my motel this morning - good, but not as good as yesterdays breakfast - and lunch at the café in Woodland. Woodland isn't very big and the café is not very impressive to look at, but the chicken pot pie special for $4.25 was very good and the $1.75 strawberry milkshake was one of the best milkshakes I've ever had! Fresh strawberries and good ice cream - nice! Yesterday's lunch in the café in Marion - beef stew over biscuits for $4.50 was also excellent. I know it isn't haute cuisine, but some of it is very good. The pancakes this morning were mediocre, but yesterdays, at Betty's in Boyne Falls, were great. You pays your money, and not very much of it, and you takes your chances, and often the food is very good. Of course the fact that you've been bicycling a lot of miles, makes good food taste even better! My final restaurant stop was at Subway in Battle Creek to eat, get half a sub to take with me, and use my computer to figure out where I was going. I wanted to continue on M 66, but I explored other alternatives for half an hour before deciding that riding on to Sturgis was the way to go.
Another section of great shoulder, coming into Ionia
But it isn't too good actually going into town
And a typical section, with good shoulder and pretty scenery
And the unrideable shoulder just south on Nashville
Let me try to enumerate the riding conditions today:
1. North of Ionia: too much traffic, and it got worse going farther south, but decent to very good shoulders and overall good riding.
2. In Ionia: The wide shoulder was broken up and crudely patched and the roads were bumpy and potholed near the outside edge. Riding was OK. There is a pretty good hill climbing out of Ionia, and the road conditions there were good and stayed good, from the start of that hill until the edge of town
3. South of Ionia, but before the interstate: bad riding conditions due to heavy traffic and narrow broken up shoulders. I just pressed on, hoping that things improved soon. They did.
4. South of I-96: a decent shoulder and much lighter traffic made for good to excellent riding conditions till just after Nashville. Then there were a few miles of unrideable shoulder and bumpy road, before the road heads south again with a great shoulder all the way through Assyria - which is easy to miss - and up till 7 miles from Battle Creek.
5. Seven miles into Battle Creek - inconsistent, either terrible or pretty good. Not a good place to ride, but the drivers were OK so I didn't feel in danger.
Downtown Battle Creek
6. Through Battle Creek on Capitol Avenue: not bad, usually pretty good, but there is a section without a shoulder near the end of Capitol Ave. Much less stressful than riding through Petoskey! Note: Stay on Capitol Ave, which is the old M 66, until it ends, then jog over a block or so east to the new M 66 to avoid the freeway section of new M 66!
Where M 66 heads south from M 60
7. After Battle Creek, mostly very good riding, with one section of rough shoulder/road east of Leonidas. A lot of traffic for twenty miles or so south of Battle Creek, but very good shoulders for most of that section.
I saw a lot of corn, and other crops, today!
8. While M 66 and M 60 are combined: mostly good, except for the one bumpy section.
9. After M 66 heads south again: Wonderful! Plus I got to say hi! to several Amish folk, and see a couple of buggies in use.
When I rode though Sturgis, I looked for a place to stay and ended up at the third place I saw. The first, The Wood Motel, looked a bit too basic, and the second, the Comfort Inn wanted $90 a night which didn't seem justified. The third, Knights Inn, was advertizing non-smoking rooms for $40. Good enough! My chain has been sounding a bit dirty, so I cleaned it in a grassy area after I got here, and that, combined with a long day of riding, means it is time for me to get to bed. Tomorrow, Indiana.