Day 35 Iron River to Marquette MI
After an enjoyable two day break from riding, my bike and I left Dick Boyd's home in his pickup truck. Dick lives on a dirt road so he took me out to a good paved road less than two miles from US 2. That road headed south west, directly into the wind, but that was the only time today that I had a headwind. Once I turned east on US 2 I had nice tailwinds pretty much all day. We left Dick's home at 9 AM and I arrived in Marquette, 90 miles away, about 4:30 PM. Actually it was 5:30 PM since I crossed back into eastern time when I entered Marquette county.
US 2 is, relative to most of the roads I've been riding recently, pretty hilly. The hills are not too steep (I never wanted a gear below 25 inches) or too long. at well less than a mile each, but they are bigger hills than I've ridden since I left western South Dakota. It was a pretty ride, somewhat diminished by too much traffic. US 2 has a decent shoulder almost all the way, but the noise level can be pretty high. Also there are a lot of log truck which are long (12 or more axles under a semi and two trailers?) and wide (they take the entire lane) and tend to be kind of dirty, i.e. wood pieces and dirt blow off their load continually. Not really fun to share a road with.
In Crystal Falls, a pretty town with all services about 16 miles east of Iron River, US 2 heads south, so I continued east on MI 69. Now the road goes back to what I've come to think of as the standard shoulder in this part of the world. It is a paved shoulder that varies from a foot to two and half feet in width and then there is a wider sand and gravel shoulder. This is an OK shoulder as long as traffic is reasonably light and there aren't many wide vehicles. A few miles out of Crystal River I saw three big log trucks coming from the east and, in my rear view mirror, two coming from the west. I moved over and rode (slowly) at the outer edge of the sand and gravel shoulder since there was no way I could fit on the paved part while those trucks were passing in both directions. Note that I don't think they would have run me off the road - very few of the logging truck drivers seem to be jerks - but if I hadn't gotten out of their way it would have been rude.
I stopped for a pasty in Sagola, 13 miles east of Crystal river. Pasties are a local fast food closely related to the meat pies of the same name (I think) available in NZ. Good fast food! Or at least they are tasty fast food and definitely healthier than McDs. There are lots of Pasty places in this part of MI, and I may well pick one up to take with me for a meal tomorrow. It would be a boon to omnivorous bike tourists if they were more widely available in this country.
At Sagola there isn't much except a gas station/store/deli. Heading north and east from there on MI 95, there are places to eat at Channing (as well as a bar - I watched a drunk heading home (?) on foot, thankfully, at about 12:30 PM. I was worried that I'd have to leave the two foot wide paved shoulder when I passed him to avoid his random walk) and at Silver Lake. After that there is nothing on the route till MI 95 ends at US 41. There is a nice park on the Michigamme river about 20 miles from Sagola. I stopped there to use the outhouse and to eat a bagel. MI 95 was pretty and better riding than MI 69. There were only a few logging trucks. It is 32 miles from Sagola to where 95 ends.
Riding quality deteriorates badly when the route turns east on US 41. The shoulder is maybe two feet wide and there is an inch or two drop off where the paved shoulder ends and the sand and gravel starts. This mean you have to be careful not to hit that drop off at a shallow angle - it could cause your bike to go down if you did - so you are forced to ride rather close to the white line. There is too much traffic roaring by at 65 mph on the other side of that line. I felt it was pretty tense riding, and I was lucky that the only logging truck that passed me when there was traffic coming from the other direction did so on an uphill section that had a widened shoulder. This situation lasts for most of the way to Ishpeming where things get more urban with mostly four lane with no shoulder. After Negaunee, the place where iron ore was first discovered in this region, 41 is four lanes with a good (if sometimes a bit dirty shoulder) and riding is somewhat interstate like. The wind was from the west by this time and it is downhill into Marquette, so I was cruising at 25 mph or so the rest of the way into town.
My cyclecomputer had become completely non functional when I left this morning, so I stopped at a Radio Shack in a Marquette Mall (it is always weird to take my touring bike into a mall!) to get a soldering iron, some solder and some wire to repair its wiring. I blew it when I mounted it before this trip by wiring it to its old clip in mount and then mounting it to my map holder which is on another part of my suspension stem. Every time the stem moved, and it moves almost continually while I'm riding, the wires were bending. Not a good design when executed with wire that are not made to be bent tens of thousands of times. I removed it and remounted it with new (more flexible wires) using part of a spoke to make a mounting platform that is rigidly mounted to the the old platform. Cadence still doesn't work (I think those wires are damaged at the sender - I had to repair them before after a car hit me last year), but at least I have speed and distance functions back. Several aspects of this repair involved the use of Goop. While I was staying with Dick, I rebuilt one of my Shimano 535 pedals. I used Goop to 'lock' the lock nut in place since I didn't have the special tool needed to properly adjust the bearings on those pedals. Dick and I agree, Goop is, along with duct tape and 'bailing' wire, one of the essential items that all tourists should carry. A goodly number of the parts on my bike are held on or held together by Goop!
Because of the time required to do the repair (and write this report) I didn't eat supper tonight. Actually I did eat the two bagels I had left when I got here and drink several cups of Earl Grey tea, so I'm not starving, but another reason I'm not starving is Dick's great hospitality. I ate a lot of good food in the last two days and had very little exercise. I needed to skip supper tonight <grin>.