Day 36 Marquette to Newberry MI
This was long days ride, about 12 hours, that took about nine hours actual riding time to cover 110 miles. I had moderate headwinds most of the day. It was also hot (by local standards!) and humid. And I mustn't forget the biting flies that added so much excitement to the ride!
Church in Marquette
The first part of the route, from Marquette to Munising, is very nice bicycling indeed. I first rode into Marquette for a look around - nice town - before getting back on the expressway and riding on around Lake Superior. I stopped for a second breakfast at one of the last places to eat before MI 28 separated for MI 41 and goes off along the lake. This place has a fantastic view of the lake, but today that view was very limited by a heavy haze. This haze gradually lifted as I rode, but visibility was poor all day. After eating pancakes I was almost ready to ride to Munising (Mun-i-sing), but first I stopped at a grocery store to pick up six bagels, two apples and two nut bars. I also carried four water bottles since I wasn't sure what services I would find along the way. There turned out to be more services than I expected.
The shoulder was great MI 28, but there was a lot of traffic. This was on a Thursday and I bet it is much worse on the weekend. Other than noise, the traffic wasn't much of a problem. The road is somewhat hilly and, on the first real hills going inland over the peninsula at Deerton, I discovered I had company. There were at least a dozen small biting flies rding on my rear panniers and taking turns coming forward to bite me! Ouch. After that I stopped at the top of every hill to clear the flies from my bags. I also deer and horse flies for company some of the time. When I stopped to pee at the lovely Park by Deer Lake just before Shelter Bay, I discover that the biting flies were a major problem when I wasn't moving...
As the haze thinned, looking out over the lake became a major preoccupation. This is a beautiful shore line. The beach across from Au Train is really nice and there are stores that sell food (pasties!) and drink (gatorade!) only a short distance towards Au Train. I stopped to get some gatorade since it was hot and humid even with a breeze off of the lake. I knew it would be a lot hotter once I turned inland.
When I rode into Munising, I was greeted by a small group of tourists I had met several days before in Iron River. There were two guys and a girl who were riding a loop starting and ending in Madison WI. They had ridden over to the twin cities, then to Duluth, and then back through the U.P. of Michigan. They left Iron River a day and a half before I did, but their touring style was very laid back with lots of non bicycle activities where as mine is pretty much just to get on that bicycle and ride. They were eating lunch at a Pasty (what else?) place, so I joined them for lunch and a bit of visiting.
Riding out of Munising I stopped at a car repair shop to fill my water bottles. I know that is weird, but I needed water and it didn't look like any was going to be available. The guys at the shop were great and the ice water they shared with me tasted might good. As it turned out, after climbing a moderate hill in immoderately hot and humid weather, I found that there were lots of services (motels, stores, places to eat) in Wetmore which was just a few miles down the road. I stopped for powerade which I had with a nut bar for my dessert.
After Wetmore, MI 28 was 25 miles of flat, straight, boring, hot, humid, buggy, riding with a shoulder that is too narrow and often too bumpy and, especially before Shingleton, on a road with too much traffic. I wouldn't want to ride it on Friday or Sunday. I didn't actually want to ride it today, but I had no other options. I stopped a number of times to rest and eat, but each time the biting flies drove me back on the road in a minute or two. I did discover that if I stopped on a bridge, it took them a little longer to find me. The shoulders were actually much better on the bridges, so I could lean my bike against the rail and almost eat a bagel before I had to leave. About 30 miles from Munising I stopped at a roadside park. It was very pleasant and free of the little biting flies - I still got bitten by a few horse flies, but what the heh, it was a big improvement over trying to stop along the road. While I was there I visited with the volunteer maintainer of the place - he does very good work - about Seney which is just four miles down the road. He said if I blinked, I'd miss it.
When I got to Seney, I discovered that it has several motels and several places to eat! I stopped for a smorgasbord to get me through the 25 miles to Newberry, but I considered stopping for the night. Seney is pretty close to the midpoint between Marquette and Saul Ste Marie. It is 80 to 85 miles on each leg. Newberry is 105+ miles from Marquette and only 65 miles from Saul Ste Marie. I decided to go on because I like riding after supper, there is a good chance of afternoon storms tomorrow, and I'd like to stop at a bike shop in Saul Ste Marie, but for most folk, Seney would make a good overnight stop. It also has camping.
When I left Seney, I was expecting 25 miles more of the same riding conditions. Fortunately thing improved markedly only a few miles down the road. First the paving improved and the shoulder was now smooth and much more rideable, then I came to a hill! I had forgotten they existed! That hill was followed by more hills and even some curves in the road. The last 20 miles of this ride was much nicer than the 30 miles that preceded it.
Newberry seems, from my motel price if nothing else, to be a tourist area. It is pretty country, and I look forward to the ride tomorrow which will take me to Saul Ste Marie and possibly into Ontario.