|Trace The Mitten|
Happenings, Reflections, Ideas, Analysis
We had some rain last night. I stayed dry and luckily it was not raining to break camp and do breakfast #1. Very overcast, breezy, and cooler than last evening. It is always good to get an early start. The traffic is always lighter.
There is a lot of activity on the farms.
The day cleared up and there was no rain. The temps stayed in the 60s. I had to take some breaks just to catch my breath from fighting the wind. I am loving this fresh air.
Off to a good start. Now to hope for rain at the right times. I am set because I have my rain gear.
I enjoy the different city signs.
There are still some remnants from the highway's heyday.
With the traffic I needed to keep my eyes on the road. I had a heads up on things to not miss.
What! That's a hot dog in his hands. This was erected in 1966 for a hot dog stand. It sure gets your attention.
I am familiar with US 30, Lincoln Highway because I traveled on it during my childhood. This road was dedicated in 1913. It runs from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco nearly 3400 miles in length. Now you would probably take Interstate 80. I have driven on that too.
In Joliet both highways intersect.
This is the inside of the Rialto Theater in Joliet. I love these beautiful theaters from the 1920s.
Illinois is the prairie state. It is natural for grasses to grow here. This is why crop farming is so successful. I am getting out of the city and suburbs. I will be going by many farms. This area was established in 1996 and covers 19,000 acres. The United States Forest Service manages this area.
The pandemic of Covid-19 has forced group bike rides and tours to be cancelled from this summer and set for 2021. Tours and organized day ride events are what I look forward to. I saw an invite recently to join a virtual ride coast to coast and that got me thinking of planning a ride like that. This will add to the joy of riding. It is exhilarating just getting out and riding. I keep track of my miles, time and elevation gain on Strava which also motivates me already.
During my ride on the next day and tweaked my plan to be even more exciting to me. I always wanted to do an epic tour over several months. Timing and health did not allow an organized tour of this trip to come to fruition. Now I have the time, but I must shelter in place. My dream trip would be doing Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. When Adventure Cycling Association produced bike route maps for this, I ordered them.
The next day I thought instead of spending my time route planning, I would see if I could join an existing virtual ride that would track my ride. Google search provided several options and I selected The Conqueror Challenges www.theconqueror.events Several locations besides Route 66 are options. You may run, swim or bike the route. You select your time frame for completion and there is a fee for participation and related merchandise. This is going to take me awhile because I will only do one my regular daily rides with just one long ride a week, if I am lucky. That means that I gave myself until Dec. 22, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_66 for more details.
The route starts in downtown Chicago on South Lake Shore Drive, in the middle of many people and vehicles. It is not for the faint of heart to venture west down Jackson. I saw the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bean, Orchestra Hall and right by the Willis (Sears) Tower and over the Chicago River. As I get the Ogden Ave. I turn SW. I remember I have friends that grew up further down this street. I never knew that is was the Historic Route 66 when I visited them in my childhood.
If it were my face there, it would be gross.
The view from the ferris wheel on Navy Pier. What a view of the city and Lake Michigan!
The John Hancock Building. Chicago has beautiful skyscrapers.
At Harlem Ave I turn south and connect on the Joliet Rd. My dad lived in Joliet as a child.
I am excited to be on my way. The mileage goal is 2280.3 with 48.9 completed and that means 2,231.4 yet to travel. 209 days left to reach Santa Monica Pier.
The rain had kept me inside for the last three days on my trainer. I was itching to get out. A friend had advised me of an area to try. I am unfamiliar with the riding possibilities. My ride starts out on the quiet streets within the condo development. That sounds ordinary.
Most times I do not see anything this out of the ordinary. I drove a VW Beetle for many years and I always like seeing the older body style like this. I see an ORV (off road vehicle) sticker for Michigan and I can tell this bug has been through some racing and trails. The trailer indicates that this ride is strickly for off the road. Do you like the roof rack and gas can. You could travel for hundreds of miles in this on a tank of gas. Are they expecting to go on a safari? I enjoyed this first stop.
My next stop was at a branch of the public library. With the pandemic, public buildings like this are closed. This sculpture caught my eye. The sunny day made the highly polished bars shimmer. I love to stop at sculptures when I find them. This one seems in motion.
On the other side of the road were soccer fields and woods. From the parking lot I moved onto an asphalt path leading to the field and it connected to the housing subdivision next door. This was a nice path to allow the kids and families to walk to use the fields. That beats driving the car.
Along the path I see this at the base of a mature shagbark hickory. I would call it a fungus. I ask Google when I get home. I see that they are called polypores which is a group of fungi that look like this and are also call bracket fungi. They are attached to the wood causing decay. There are over
I like the medallion which reminds us "No dumping. Drains into the river." The opening looks like many drains all over. Winter sand and litter block the opening. Sometimes they are completely blocked. Not many take the responsibility to say "I will do that." That would be a good deed for me to do sometime.
I moved to the main road and the shoulder was not always there. Luckily the traffic was not heavy and I felt plenty safe. Part of the road was closed except for local traffic due to some repaving. A very nice stretch of road. A great discovery.
I decided to head down this dirt road. We had three straight days of heavy rain. This road was really in nice shape considering the recent storms. The traffic gave me plenty of room. I did pass 4 cyclists that came from the neighboring houses. Luckily no loose dogs.
I enjoy seeing the home and barns. This was the most interesting structure.
Soon there will be planting. Some areas are set and some are showing the crops. It is mid May in Michigan.
This is in a church parking lot. I bet that it generates some electricity for the building. I was soon back to my starting point enjoying 2 hours of riding a new area near by that I had not cycled. I hope that you enjoyed the photos.
The shelter in place order for my state came in the middle of March and this is the time I head outside as the temperatures are warming up. The stay at home order did allow us to go out into parks and trails.
The bike rack needed to be re-attached and it will be on the car for months. I had just bought a new new pass and now I see that entry will be free for all for awhile. Bummer! My fee goes for a good cause. I am sure they have furloughed staff. I found the crowd of cars in the parking lot to be a little larger than normal.
I decided on the bike path around the lake instead of following the road. It is early in the season and I am not used to the road. I find that there are more walkers and bikers than normal. I see families and couples, which must have driven together. I was fooled in the parking lot.
The air was crisp , but it was not hard to keep comfortable under the layers and wind jacket. The scene was not pretty or springy, but after riding inside since the middle of November, I was excited about the ride. I made this trip to the park frequently and to the local rail trails. Each time there were more and more people out than my previous visit.
I started thinking with so many around me what are the worries of catching the corona virus? I came to the conclusion that we were passing swiftly and the wind was blowing. I wear a face mask usually anyway. I am not particularly worried , but I will look for quieter places to ride.
I moved to the mountain bike and selected some off the road spots. These proved to be quieter.
I quickly found that the spring maintenance has not occurred. Riding is an adventure and that is why I like it.
I discovered time to stop at a historical marker. I see the Joe Louis had a horse farm in this area and that years before that part of the Underground Railroad. How many times do I go by these and not read them.
I rode around the local sideways. These jewels of the past are pretty tarnished and rusty. I am not interested in taking the time to fix these up. I already own classic steel bikes.
I even tried to see how the bike did on an abandoned train bed. I do not recommend it.
I enjoyed the cruiser through the neighborhood streets. The sidewalks were usually used and the streets gave me plenty of room.
The bradford pears that are planted in these subs are beautiful and the flowering crabapple are now getting ready to bloom.
This has seemed like a regular cycling spring. I have enjoyed every ride.
1. Happy to see so many people out. Families doing biking together
2. My recreation love, cycling, has been unhampered like my golfing friends.
3. It is easy to social distance. I have seen great respect by people stepping aside.
4. The downside is that rides races, tours are postponed . Hard to keep motivated.
5. Our bike shops have just opened up and there will be a service backlog.
6. As other summer events open up, the trails will quiet down some.
Just prior to the kickoff ceremonies the downpour stopped. We had sun and mild temperatures the next six days. The rear wheels we wetted with Lake Michigan and we off with a police escort to the Kalhaven trailhead.
Mike Levine is standing next to the buoy marking the starting point near the Kalhaven Trail. Mike has been a driving force to extend trails and create connectors along Route 1. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Trails and Greenways have been working with the municipalities along the way to make this happen. There has been hours of hard work behind the scenes.
The rain stopped by the crushed limestone, dirt, and sand base was wet and puddles caused cautious riding.
I appreciated switching to the tires used for cyclocross. The fenders helped keep the bike and rider clean, but they were constantly popping with rocks, sand and dirt. At some times I could feel the resistance with too much collecting in the small gap. I was happy to have a bike wash at Theo and Stacey's restaurant next to our hotel.
Along the trail we experienced wonderful SAG stops hosted by "Friends of the Trail". The Kalhaven had pit toilets and water pumps along the way in between the villages. I have never seen a trail with water pumps along the way.
From the end of Kalhaven we moved directly to the Kalamazoo trail into town. The asphalt was appreciated.
On the second day we followed the Kalamazoo River through Battle Creek and into Marshall.
At time the trail moved through fields and along the highway. This route was easy to follow.
Going along the river is my favorite time.
Sometimes we just needed to go along the highway to get to the next trail. Road routes were lower traffic volume or ample shoulder for the busier highways.
Battle Creek and Kalamazoo integrated the trail through the city riverside park.
Board path stretches were over wetlands and in this case above the steep slope and to create a safety zone with the road.
From Battle Creek we moved into the Calhoun County Nature Preserve. Recent rain created washouts and the volunteers had not completed the trail maintenance. We saw many hikers and this section is part of the North Country Hiking Trail.
From Marshall we took back roads toward Jackson.
We had a path through Albion and then back on to back roads.
At Concord we connect with the rail trail. This was a very nice path to the trail leading into Jackson.
I favor the asphalt trail.
Besides going through the farmland we also had lakes and wetlands to enjoy.
The Intercity Trail also named MLK Trail took us from the outskirts of Jackson to downtown.
I was surprised to see the brick, but it was a in a historic district. Through Jackson had bike lanes on our route and less traveled roads.
Heading out of Jackson we had about 6 miles of back roads to reach this point. Behind me the trail will continue to Jackson and eliminate the need for the roads we traveled. This section needed some more rolling but soon we hit the fully completed section. The trail will just keep getting better.
This train line was abandoned in the 1980's and the natural woodlands have returned and provide shade and windbreak.
We decided to take a side trip to Hell, Michigan. This dirt road was bouncy enough I lost my water bottle.
I am not sure that is an official sign. They did have a hand stamp that stated "Mailed from Hell." The stamp guarantees delivery.
Ah, an asphalt trail heading toward Brighton.
Path through Island Lake State Recreation Area.
The Huron Valley Trail along Grand River Road near South Lyon.
This section of the Huron Valley Trail parallels Interstate 96 for a short distance.
This trail is named after the rail line that rain along here called "Airline". This is new asphalt and they were still working on sections as we rode by.
Here is a little history of the Michigan Air Line Railroad. This track from the 1880's is the basis for the route for these trails.
What a nice bridge for the trail over the multi-lane Michigan State Highway 5. These bridges or tunnels under roads are expensive, but I appreciate the safety.
This tunnel went under the Interstate 96.
Just off the bridge we ran into gravel. This was still very loose and had not been rolled. After a bit I decided to walk because I was weaving all over.
What a relief to see the steamroller right ahead. The roller made the gravel embedded and I could ride again.
The West Bloomfield Trail. I calculate the mile marker on the post indicates the distance to Richmond, the eastern terminus of the Airline.
This is the Clinton River Trail in Pontiac. This two track looks rough, but it was smooth.
The trail moved us to the sidewalk, I guess to keep us off the road. It was bumpy, but it worked. These markers helped to keep on track until we picked up the trail again in Auburn Hills.
The bridge over Interstate 75.
The Macomb Orchard Trail is 23 miles of pavement heading to Richmond.
The Bridge to Bay trail follows the St. Clair River running out of Lake Huron. We are in Port Huron now.
Now the tire dip into the Lake Huron. What a good trip over 18 different trails and 275 miles altogether.