This year I did something that I never thought I would ever do. I signed up for a bike ride from Lake Michigan all the way to Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron called the “One Day Ride Across Michigan.” This was part of a fundraiser my church, Kensington Community Church, put together for the “Hope Water Project.” I started my training early by riding our exercise bike. When the snow and ice melted, it was time to hit the dirt in South Eastern Michigan. I started off working my way to more and more miles. It felt like death at first but it became easy. Then the miles started racking up.
I then took a job as a First Mate on the Seajoy up in Frankfort, Michigan. The season started off slowly but would be picking up as the summer progressed. When I had the time off, I was riding my bike as much as I could. I was able to explore parts of Northwestern Michigan that I had never seen. Here are my Top 5 rides from my summer.
5. Bald Mountain – North Park – 5.8 Miles
I have really grown to love Bald Mountain State Recreation Park in South Eastern, Michigan when it comes to Mountain Biking. The trails are wide and hilly. There is some terrain to climb. I like how you can go fast and not have to worry about hitting trees unlike Bald Mountain’s neighbor, Addison Oaks. I do love riding Addison Oaks as well. Bald Mountain has many more trails but my favorite was the North Park this summer. After you ride Bald Mountain, you can always hit up Addison or go find some more Bald Mountain trails.
4. Crystal Lake – Benzie Trail – 30.1 Miles
I never realized how amazing Crystal Lake was until I rode my bike around it. I started off riding the Betsie Valley Trail but ended up exploring the rest of Crystal Lake. The Betsie Valley Trail was along the Betsie River but extends past Crystal Mountain. I probably rode here more then anywhere because I could leave my camper in Frankfort and go for a ride. I could ride to Lake Michigan and then ride around Crystal Lake. You could also ride to Point Betsie Light house. They’re a lot of different roads to explore while doing this loop. I loved looking at all the cool houses along the lake. The sunsets and weather fronts were amazing. At the end of your ride, you can hit up the “Cool Spot” Ice cream shop in downtown Frankfort.
3. Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes – 21.5
I have always loved driving around “Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.” When a friend posted on Facebook that she wanted to ride them, I had to check them out. I didn’t know SB had bike trails. They’re hilly and winding. As of now, you can ride from Empire through Glen Arbor and up to Port Oneida. In the coming years they are adding more trails. You can ride around the Glen Lakes and explore that area as well.
2. Arcadia Dunes – 13.4 Miles
Arcadia Dunes…Wow!!! Arcadia Dunes is probably the toughest, grueling Mountain Biking trail I have ever rode. Based in the Arcadia bluffs, south of Frankfort, this mountain bike trail was crazy. The hills were insane and the scenery was breath taking. The adrenaline that went through me was intense going up and down at high rates of speed. Warning; if you decide to ride these trails, make sure you are ready mentally and physically. Don’t go there on an empty stomach without drinking water all day. There is a 9ooish foot elevation change ahead of you. Take snacks along with you and bring as much water as you can. I was not prepared and struggled most of the ride.
1. Frankfort to Leland – Century Ride – 110 Miles
When I signed up for ODRAM (One Day Ride Across Michigan) I found a training schedule to prepare me for the ride. Since charter season was right around the corner, I decided to make a crazy ride from Frankfort all the way to Leland and back. It was suppose to be 100 miles round trip. I figured this would be the ultimate test to see if I was ready for the ride across Michigan.
The ride was amazing. I rode the Betsie Valley Trail system to Honor. Then I headed north to Empire. In Empire, I met up with the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes trail. I continued along Lake Michigan til I arrived in Leland. The views were absolutely amazing.
By this time, I had gone through 5 water bottles and 5 cliff bars. I stopped into the “Village Cheese Shanty.” They were awesome and built me two sandwiches. They filled my water bottles and gave me some more munchies for my ride.
It was getting late so I had to get back on the road. My path changed a little. I rode M-22 as much as I could. In the Glen Arbor area I cut between the Glen Lakes. When I got to North Crystal Lake area, I decided to follow Lake Michigan back. Up until this point, I was feeling pretty good. Around the 100-mile mark, my left knee started hurting. I have to continue because it was late in the evening.
Finally, after 11 hours of being on the bike, I was back home but in a lot of pain. My leg stiffened up in the middle of the night.
Through out the summer, I continued working and charter fishing. Over the next month in a half I tried nursing my knee back to health. I was trying to make little rides to strengthen my knee. At times I thought it was heeled. Then the next ride I would be in a lot of pain again. Between working on roofs and out on Lake Michigan, my knee never made a full recovery. I ended up having to bow out of the ride across Michigan. I was really bummed out but I had to take something away from this summer of riding.
It’s funny how I said I would never want to do this again after the ride. However, the more challenging something is, its seems like the more you want to do it over again. Here are a few things I learned from this summer:
1. To ride long distance you have to work up to it.
-You can’t ride several 30 miles rides and then think your ready for 100 miles.
2. If I put my mind to something like riding long distance, I can do it.
3.You will need more then 20 bucks when riding over 100 miles
4. Eating and drinking correctly before and during the ride is very important while riding long distances.
-I noticed when I didn’t pay attention to what I was consuming, how poorly I rode and how much more it felt like death.
I will be attempting to ride the ODRAM again this year and can’t wait to start training again for it.
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