June 15
St. Ignace to Gaylord, Michigan

I programmed the website for a couple of hours, and checked my tire pressure. Some of the folks on the T@CO (touring@cyclery.com) mailing list suggest deflating your tires nightly and checking them constantly. To me that practice is utterly ridiculous. I check my tires about once per month or if they look low. The rear tire looked and was low. My Topeak Master Blaster pump self-destructed, so for this trip I stole my wife's. It had not been used and I fiddled with the nozzle trying to configure it for Presta valves. I did not get going until about 11:00 AM.

This is my morning to cross the great Mackinac Bridge (Michiganders pronounce it "mackinaw;" only tourists say "mackinack"). The bridge is closed to single bicyclists. Only two large groups annually are permitted to ride bicycles across the bridge and those crossing are only northbound. I've ridden across the bridge several times myself as part of the DALMAC tour.

I asked several people how to get to the Bridge Authority without riding on I-75 (illegal). I got several completely different answers. I rode down the road by the State Park on the east side of I-75, but it did not go all the way to the bridge. I rode into the State Park and asked the ranger there. He suggested going down by the State Police on the west side of I-75, so I proceeded back out to US-2 and west. I headed down a road (by the Howard Johnson motel) with signs regarding the Father Marquette Museum. I decided to take a look at the museum.

I was not impressed with the museum (how interesting can any biographical museum be), but it did enhance my knowledge of Pere Marquette.

I had a museum employee call the Bridge Authority to ask how one arranges a bicycle crossing. They indicated that for a charge of $2.00 the BridgeAuthority would carry the bicyclist and bicycle across the 5 mile long bridge and that to get there I should just proceed down the road that passes the Father Marquette facility, then cross I-75 in front of the toll booths.

The hill afforded a nice view of the bridge.

When I got to the bottom of the hill, there was only one road connecting to the area by the State Police and the toll booths (at the bottom left in the picture above), but it was prominently marked "ONE WAY - DO NOT ENTER." I tried seeing if there was another entrance off the gravel parking lot--no such luck. Finally, I decided to brave riding my bicycle the wrong way up a road coming from the State Police building. I kept expecting a siren and a ticket. To proceed toward the Bridge Authority building, I had to ride into the State Police parking area, then ride up another short road marked "EXIT ONLY - DO NOT ENTER." After riding up that one-way road, I finally saw reference to bicycles "BRIDGE CLOSED TO BICYCLES- BICYCLISTS PROCEED TO BRIDGE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING." I was on track, but still disconcerted. I rode directly across I-75 (in front of the toll booths--where the cars are slowing), leaned my bicycle against the building and entered the bicycle crossing office. I asked them how I was supposed to get there. They told me that the way I came is the only way; that "everybody" ignores the one way signs, even the Michigan State Police. They said there was talk about making it two way.

I then paid my $2 and a Bridge Authority employee pulled in front ofthe office with a pick-up truck.

It was all very simple and we were on our way within seconds, despite having to lift my 85 lb bicycle into the truck.

The Mackinac Bridge is so high off the water and subjected to such strongwinds that a crossing can be quite scary, especially from a bicycle. The green metal grate on the center lane of the center span (right picture) is just a grate. Looking through it, you can see right down to the water.

In Mackinac City, I stopped at a bicycle store to park my bicycle while I ate at McDonalds, but got talking to the store owners about my Alaska-Florida trip and purchased another Trek coolmax® headband.

From there I headed down to the Mill Creek Historical Park (admission $6) to see the old mill that was reconstructed by my neighbors--Vic, Patty & Chris Hogg.

The Mill Creek folks put on quite a fascinating demonstration of old milling techniques, using everything from a felling axe to a broad axe and a two-person saw. They demonstrated the unique features of the old Campbell mill. Water power is channeled through a sluice toward the mill (last picture).Using a series of levers (3rd picture), the mill operator moves either the saw (up and down motion) or the wood. An adjoining museum explains the detective effort that was needed to make the reconstruction authentic.

From Mill Creek, I headed down US-23 to Cheboygan. At this point, US-23 has great shoulders.

At Cheboygan, I rode southwest on Old US-27 to Indian River and from there, I took the Sault Trail south to Gaylord. Near Wolverine, there was logging in progress.

South of Wolverine was an incredible climb. If I didn't know better, I would say it was several thousand feet vertical (there's no such height in Michigan), but it was a couple of miles of climbing. My right foot was killing me again. I readjusted the SPD cleats in Mac City, on US-23 east of Mill Creek, and several more times through the day. Eight miles out of Gaylord, I was in so much pain that I tried donning an Ultimax® cushioned athletic sock on that foot. That seemed to help and I struggled along to Gaylord.

The Gaylord area is one of rolling hills--pretty from a car, but real work on a bicycle.

I stayed at a Microtel ($45) adjacent to the Big Buck Brewery. I was in the mood for a big steak, even though the Sugar Bowl restaurant downtown offers better food.

PS 6/16/98: As I was riding along today, I started wondering why there was such a gap in my photos. It is easy to forget bad times. I remembered stowing the Olympus tightly in its OR zipper bag then in a OneZip® poly bag, to protect it from the downpour that descended upon me off and on between Mullet Lake and Wolverine. I stowed both cameras and everything else. I donned my Sugoi Entrant G2 Extreme jacket with the underarm vents open fully. The coat breathed as it should, but it was hot, humid and incredibly wet out, so I was wet everywhere. Rain came through the vents on my helmet (I did not bring my helmet cover on this trip), down my neck, off my glasses, up my pants, in my shoes, etc. I got to experience the protective effect of fenders for the first time--no worm guts. I watched the tires--nothing got past the fenders. I like them.

72 miles

  
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