Week Seven: Michigan - Ontario July 27 - August 2
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The week starts in Scottsville, Michigan, and is divided between two countries. In Michigan, I'll experience the old-world heritage of Frankenmuth, settled by German Lutheran missionaries in 1845. I'll then cross into Canada and cycle along the north shore of Lake Erie passing through quaint fishing villages with their own unique maritime histories. Finally onto Niagara Falls for a rest day, where I can relax and watch millions of gallons of water thunder into the river below.
Matt's newsletter from this week:
WEEK OF JULY 28TH
Hello again from Niagara Falls, Ontario, yes in Canada. As many of you know, this summer I am riding my bicycle 4,200 miles across America in honor and memory of my father. He passed away last April about 2 months before he was to set off on his own transcontinental journey. This summer I'll be completing his dream for him, on his bicycle, while raising money for a scholarship in his honor.
This week I cycled from Scottsville, MI to Niagara Falls, ON. I cycled along some beautiful rails to trails roads, had a meeting with a town supervisor about library policy, crossed into Canadia, hit a bunny, swam with E. Coli and ended the week looking at the fireworks over Niagara Falls. Check below for photos and descriptions (and don't forget to click on the photos to see larger images)
Funny story about finding internet access in Scottsville, MI to get last week's newsletter out to everyone in RideAcross land. I wrote the newsletter at a bar while watching the final stage of the Tour de France and had spent a good part of the morning looking for a place to get online. Without success, I asked the bartender if I could use the bar phone for 30 minutes to upload everything. She said yes, but the phone was in the kitchen, so I spent a half hour squeezed in a cramped corner with cooks and busboys running around me, yelling out orders and just loving slamming into me with hot boiling pots of water and razor sharp knives. It was an experience.
Just a reminder, on Saturday August 16th, I will be rolling into Gloucester (MA) to complete the ride by dipping my front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean. Check upcoming newsletters for more details on timing and the specific beach where we will be landing. I'd love to see family and friends there (hint, hint)
Finally, it was great to hear from the many new voices who introduced themselves last week; I really enjoyed hearing your stories (as opposed to me blabbing off like usual) and how you found the newsletter. If you haven't had a chance to introduce yourself yet, it would be great if you could take a few minutes and reply to this email. Thanks!
THIS WEEK'S FUN FACTS
Miles ridden this week: 522
Miles ridden to date: 3,493
Number of Ferry Crossings: 2
Volume of water crossing Niagara Falls: 1.25 million gallons of water per second
Number of cups of coffee consumed while writing this newsletter: 5
Number of times my hands have twitched while writing this sentence: 300
July 28th: Revenge of the Librarian
Scottsville, MI to Farwell, MI
We continued our riding in Michigan today by heading east towards Farwell. We rolled through small towns and by tons of picturesque lakes. The day's ride was pretty uneventful (as you can see, this is the FIRST day of the entire trip that don't have a picture worthy of the newsletter). Actually, the ride was uneventful until I met the librarian from hell.
So we rolled into Farwell and I went to the library like usual to check my email and the day's news. Pretty much every town we have passed through has had a public library with public internet access (public being the key word in that sentence); it has been my main way of staying connected with the real world. However, the librarian in Farwell had different ideas. She shooed us away very rudely, yelling at me that it would cost me $10 to use "her" computers.
Well, if you know me personally, you probably won't be surprised with my decision of what to do next. I don't really like being yelled at and I think it is absurd that a public library would charge $10 to use its computers, so I walked over to town hall and asked for a meeting with the Town Supervisor. I honestly didn't think anything would happen, I mean, who accepts a walk in meeting with a guy in spandex, but I am in small town America, so the secretary escorts me into the Town Supervisor's office for a sit down.
Nancy, the Town Sup, was sitting behind her huge desk as I approached clad in safety yellow lycra and sweaty spandex. I told her I thought it was silly that they were trying to charge me for using public internet access, and on top of that, the Librarian was about the rudest person I've met on this trip so far (including the guys in huge pickup trucks that roll down their windows and yell and scream that all cyclists should be shot). It turns out that she didn't know about the policy and agreed with me, so she called the president of the library right there and asked what the deal was. He then agreed, apologized to me (on speakerphone) and said he would look into the policy.
Rude Librarian: 0
July 29th: Bier
Farwell, MI to Frankenmuth, MI
This morning we got to ride on the 25 mile "rails to trails" Pere Marquette Trail. For those that don't know, Rails to Trails takes old railroad tracks and turns them into multi-use recreational trails (for walkers, cyclists, rollerblading... etc). It's wonderful to ride with no traffic on a nicely paved surface with good friends on a beautiful sunny day. We rolled along at a strong but relaxing 20 MPH over some cool trestle bridges until finally arriving at a State Park right on Lake Huron for lunch.
Lunch was beautiful, except I took my first fall of the trip as we were leaving. As I approached the walkway along the water, there was a 1 foot long sand break in the pavement and a 3 inch curb up to the boardwalk. Well, my bunny hop didn't quite clear the moat and I hurtled over my handlebars at the astonishing speed of 4 MPH. I suffered a badly damaged ego and a slight scraped knee, but no real damage to anything important.
As we were rolling into town, we picked up a "manure free" tractor to draft on for 8 miles or so (check the photo) and pulled into the Bavarian styled town of Frankenmuth. I felt like I was in Epcot, with tons of tourists walking around a completely out of place town (the street signs in metric units). Anyway, we found a fun brewery, had some good biers (great hefeweizen) and laughed the Librarian From Hell into the night. Also, Renee, one of our friends from Belgium, bought the mocha group a few pitchers, thanks Renee!
July 30th : Darn Good Pie
Frankenmuth, MI to Richmond, MI
I'm eating too much. I decided that it's somewhat silly that I'm exercising for 6 hours a day in rugged heat and I haven't lost any weight. So today I decided not to do anything about it and eat a lot.
This morning I ate 6 pancakes for breakfast, stopped at mile 20 for a soda and danish, had lunch at mile 47, then an ice cream cone with sprinkles at mile 64, a slice of pie at mile 79 and then a full hearty dinner.
For everyone at home that was expecting to see "Lean and Mean Matt" in Gloucester, please get prepared for "Slightly Pudgy 25 year old Guy in Spandex" Matt. I hope you like it.
July 31st: Canadia, AY!
Richmond, MI to West Lorne, ONT
Today we went Oot and Aboot and visited our friends north of the boarder in Canadia. A nice morning ride brought us to Marine City where we sat on the shores of the water to enjoy our morning mochas. Who would've thought you could get mochas this many places across America.
We boarded the ferry across the canal, passed through the very rigorous Canadian customs, got our monopoly money and were off into Ontario (our 3rd country, America, South Dakota and Canada). Have you noticed that South Dakota the butt of all my jokes? I'm thinking that South Dakota is like that guy in every group that started getting picked on years ago, and now gets picked on all the time because he's the guy we pick on. And yes, that guy was me in elementary school and no I don't want to talk about it.
Beautiful sunset tonight too, check it out to the right.
August 1st: Swim time
West Lorne, ON to Port Dover, ON
Remember in Week 1 when I was all kinds of excited for my first century? Well, 5 centuries and 3,400 miles later, riding 99.5 miles in a day was good enough; I felt no need to do a lap around the block to complete the 100.
Today was a real treat though, great company, great stops, another great lake (Erie), lighthouses, sandy beaches, and tons of small harbor towns. I rode the afternoon with Bob from San Diego and Theresa from Chicago. We were strolling down a country road, I was riding slightly behind Bob and Theresa, when little bunny foo-foo jumped out from the bushes. It barely dodged Bob's wheel, and smacked directly into Theresa's front spokes. After completing a double front roll, it righted itself to see my front wheel barreling down on its head, one quick shake of its nugget and it darted to the other side of the street. Theresa was in tears; Bob and I were hysterical with laughter, amazed that Theresa actually hit little bunny foo foo.
When we arrived in Port Dover, Theresa, Bob and I rolled down to the lake, out the pier and jumped in with all our clothes on. The water felt great; I was happy. Happy that is until we walked up the road and a storekeeper reminded us to wash ourselves thoroughly in antibacterial soap, you know, to get all the E. Coli off us. Yeah, they're having a huge E. Coli outbreak on the beaches here: God I love the Great Lakes.
August 2nd: Niagara Falls
Port Dover, ON to Niagara Falls, ON
Nice short day to end out a great week. The morning greeted us with thick fog and misty rain, but it was a good riding temperature and the fog was protecting my sun drenched skin for at least a few hours.
I checked email at a library at lunch (it did not cost me $10 and I'm not even a Canadian citizen) and a rider from last year recommended a bar called Knuckeheads "somewhere in Ontario". Well I hadn't seen it yet, so it was great to run across it 15 miles later. Theresa and I walked in and chatted it up with all the Local Yokels. They all remembered the riders from last year and loved to have us. Somehow Iraq came up and a guy said he thought Canada should do more, you know, they could give our troops some bananas or something. I didn't ask.
We strolled into the disaster that is Niagara Falls after a nice dinner to see the fireworks and light show. I haven't been here in many years, but this place has become an absurd strung out combination of Vegas and Disneyworld on heroin. Its neon light after neon light, with too many people that have no interest in seeing the natural beauty right next to them, only interested in the wax museum and souvenir shops. It's funny that we came to Canada to see the stereotypical American tourist trap.
Not going to end on a negative note though, the falls are still as beautiful as ever and it's been a while since I've seen them at night all lit up with the colored lights. It was a great way to finish another fun and exciting week.
* * *
Next week we're heading into my original hood, Rochester (NY), where I'll get to see my mother and a bunch of friends. I'm planning to take a small detour and visit a summer camp where I've spent every summer since I was 7 years old, go sailing and visit with old co-workers.
As always, I have really appreciated all the support I continue to receive from everyone out there on the RideAcross Travelogue. Please feel free to send this along to your friends; I always like to hear from voices old and new.
I would also like to express my sincerest thanks for those that have donated in support of my ride. If you have not yet made a donation and would like to, please visit www.rideacross.com and click on donations.
Day 2: Lean on me
Day 2: Das Bier
Day 2: Rails to Trails Rules!
Day 2: Morning Mocha with Gus (yes, the mocha lady's name is Gus)
Day 2: Pere Marquette Trail 25 beautiful miles
Day 2: Which one of these is not like the other
Day 2: Step 1, check for poop, Step 2, draft behind tractor
Day 2: What's so funny Bob?
Day 3: Morning in America
Day 3: Breaking down camp
Day 4: Hey Minnie
Day 4: Ferry to Canadia
Day 4: Welcome to Canada!
Day 5: Sunset over our the city of CycleAmerica
Day 5: Nice Lighthouse
Day 5: E Coli Anyone?
Day 5: Steve-o & Pablo, nice tan lines
Day 5: Arlo, Theresa and Matt out on the town
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