Keweenaw Peninsula Fall Tour 2021

Sept. 16, 2021 – Sept. 29. 2021

Our Salsa Fargo Bikes ready to roll.

I guess you could say that bicycle touring is in our blood. Yea, I have to admit that the call of the open roads and secluded byways call to us. After all, we did live on our bikes for just shy of 3 years. But our goals in touring have changed. Neither of us want to live on the road month after month, year after year. We settled into more of and “event” type touring. It’s good to be able to roll out the side door and head into the woods.

This is the 3rd tour up onto the Keweenaw and we never tire of it. We take the days slow and meander our way east north east from our little red home. The ride never gets old, we have found favorite camping spots along the way to Copper Harbor, MI and then we head on up to the far tip. This year we went to the Missile Range and wow. The touring for us isn’t just about the cycling, it’s about the experience, the camping, the laughter and the sites along the way.

Day 1 – Sept. 16, 2021: We loaded up our Salsa Fargos and hit the road. Today we are attempting to make it to Misery Bay via logging roads. It was quite the adventure and we found success in the roads / trails that we were pretty sure were there. We set up camp in a grove of trees out of site of the roadway. We passed active logging operations. I’m pretty sure the men thought we were crazy but that’s ok, we are use to is.

Day 2 – Sept 17, 2021: We departed the Misery Bay area and checked out the boat ramp for future rides and additional camp possibilities. We climbed away from Lake Superior and stopped near the top for a quick snack. We traversed gravel roads today as well as 4 lane roadways. We ended our day on a bike path and found a lovely campsite at Cole Creek. We crossed the small stream and set up camp.

Day 3 – Sept 18, 2021: Gratiot River, one of our all time favorite camping spots is in our sites for tonight. We packed up at Cole Creek and headed out. There is a steep drop off of the bike trail into Houghton. Then it was along the Portage Canal and across the lift bridge entering into Hancock, MI. We found out trail out of town and set our sites on Calumet. Most of our ride today was on trails and we loved it! This route today is one of our favorites and we keep coming back to it time and time again. We have an amazing campsite along the Gratiot River and it was there waiting for us, including the stash of maple wood that we had left last year!!

Day 4 – Sept. 19, 2021: We slept late and took our time as today is going to be a very short day. We took the road to a logging road and cut in. We took this route over the hill back toward Lake Superior. It’s an incredible off road, through the weeds route. We made our way to Silver Falls and tucked back into the power line clearing. We could have gone further today but we decided to take it easy. So needless to say this afternoon was a time of watching clouds. yea, watching clouds, the shapes and colors drifting by in a sea of blue. Butterflies danced among the wildflowers, birds sang their many different tunes. It’s days like today that make life feel good.

Day 5 – Sept. 20, 2021: The ride from Silver Falls to Copper Harbor was very fast. We got into town and secured a hotel room for tonight. Curtis got a very sad phone call, Covid19 took the life of his older brother Greg. This wretched virus has touched so many families.

Day 6 – Sept. 21, 2021: Copper Harbor is a cool little tourist village. We picked up breakfast from our favorite coffee shop and then headed into the logging roads. We decided to check out the Missile Range. It is probably the most beautiful camping area we have ever done and that says a lot. It’s an uphill ride on rough dirt roads. There is a number of water crossings and we had a blast. There are campsites along the water and we found a beautiful one, complete with fire ring.

Day 7 – Sept. 22, 2021: It’s so incredible here that we are spending another day. So today we walked the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. We build a Cairn in honor of Curtis’ brother Greg and my sister, Juli-Ann. Greg died a few days ago, we lost Juli to lung cancer in April. Today was a day to just be and that is a very good thing sometimes. We built a fire tonight and watched as the sun dipped low and the stars came out so bright. Sleeping to the sound of the waves on the rocks was magical. Yea, days like today are why we tour.

Cairn we built for Greg & Juli-Ann

Day 8 – Sept. 23, 2021: We are heading out today on unknown roads. We hope to make it to the Lower Montreal Falls but it doesn’t look like much of a road to get there. The initial road was dirt and we headed toward Fish Cove. We ended up filtering water here and passed on camping since there was literally nothing flat to pitch. We backtracked from Fish Cove to a over grown trail. This got quite dodgey and we ended up on single track along Lake Superior. Finally making it to the Montreal River, our big question of the day was “Do we cross the river here above the lower Montreal Falls or do we camp on this side of the falls and cross in the morning? Well, we decided to cross. The water wasn’t too deep and we ended up making a number of trips across the slippery rocks to get our gear from one side to the other. One woman was filming us and she stated to us later that she was sure we were going to get swept away. Not likely but she thought so. Anyway, we made it across and found a spot to camp. Today was tough and from what we are hearing from the hikers that come in from the way we will be leaving tomorrow, we are in for a push to get back to pavement. It’s all good.

Sunset at the Lower Montreal Falls

Day 9, Sept. 24, 2021: Coffee first and then it’s push time. Yea, the folks yesterday were not kidding! The trail was quite narrow and at time ran right along the lake. It was tough, a lot of log crossings and hoisting of the bikes but we made it. The hill getting away from the lake …BRUTAL at 20% grade!! We ate lunch at Lac LaBelle and then continued on to Gay, MI where we opted for supper at the bar. We camped at a local campground where we could finally shower. Tonight the rains started.

Day 10, Sept. 25, 2021: Gray skies and drizzle, the temperature was also dropping. It’s going to be a chilly wet ride today. The rain even coming in will last about 2 days so we decided to head back across the peninsula to Gratiot River. It rained, then it hailed on us. We stopped in Mohawk, MI for lunch at Slim’s Cafe and wow was that good! After a hearty lunch we braved the cold and wet and headed to our camp spot at Gratiot River. We put up the tarp and tent. We were soaked and cold but having a tried and true dependable site made it all worthwhile. Before long Curtis made up hot soup and we snuggled into a warm sleeping bag. The sounds of the river lulled us both to sleep.

Day 11, Sept 26, 2021: It’s still cold and rainy so we are staying put. There were a few times throughout the day that the rains stopped so we did some Gratiot River area exploring. We continued to dry our clothes on a line and enjoyed the river.

Day 12, Sept. 27, 2021: Goodbye Gratiot River, until next year! The rains were passed and we crossed back to the other side of the peninsula, cycling through Dollar Bay. It was a fast uneventful ride. We booked a room in Chassell, MI. Nothing that great, pretty run down actually. Curtis bought a couple of beers from the local C-Store and I got some ice cream. Life is good.

Day 13, Sept 28, 2021: Our destination today is Emily Lake and much of it will be on back roads and trails. It was a spectacular day until the very last segment. The roads got pretty rough and the trails were very sandy so needless to say that involved a lot of pushing. Emily Lake is so beautiful and we found our favorite spot and set up camp.

Emily Lake Campsite

Day 14, Sept. 29, 2021: We left Emily Lake and headed for home. The entire ride this year was incredible This no doubt will be an annual event, some of the most beautiful countryside we’ve ever cycled. But it’s good to know we have a warm cozy bed and a hot shower waiting for us at home.

Rain or Shine

Touring means you ride rain or shine, for us that also means snow, frost and sometimes ice. But today, it was just rain. We know our butts are soft and our legs out of shape but we still want to try and get in a few rides to toughen up those sit bones and help the legs a little before embarking on our Fall Tour.

Dripping wet and loving it! Cooler temps are finally here and we can break out the long sleeves!!
Wet roads with the rain falling gently made for an enjoyable ride.

Today wasn’t a long ride, 13 miles with almost no elevation gain but it was FUN! We splashed through puddles and I dodged the muddy spray that was splattering up from Curtis’ rear tire. We both sported the mud splattered back that is just one of those things to be expected when rain riding.

Ontonagon has remarkable ATV/Snowmobile/Bike trails. One of these trails run through the village along the Ontonagon River.

Trail through the village

It’s always fun to get back on the bikes, while we are riding both of us talk about the future of our riding, the epic routes and trails that we still want to explore. The ride and route list seems to grow longer than years permit but it is still fun to plan. After all, planning is half the fun…right? Anyway, this year we will ride our Fall Foliage Keweenah Tour with plans to spend 2-4 weeks on the road/trails.


It’s a Pandemic People – No excuses

Social distancing, masks, vaccines; conversations revolve around these topics, overshadowing living. The reality that Covid-19 and all of its new variants is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about that but we need to learn to be safe and work around this forever with us virus.

Covid-19 screwed up our 2020 plans of cycling the Continental Divide but then again it messed with a lot of peoples plans. Oh well, adapt and modify but do it safely.

Social distancing is easy where we live, there are very few people and we live with a very low population density. Social distancing is and always has been the norm and its just the way we like it.

2021 has been a rollercoaster year, again postponing our summer tour plans. After my time in south Texas (December – April) I was emotionally spent, frazzled and flat worn out. I just wanted to go home. I hate to admit it but bikes have been dormant, lost in space so to speak and every time we think “now’s the time” something new rises up and grounds the bikes once again. Fall is fast approaching and it’s time to make it happen. It’s time to dust off the bikes, air the tires and pack those panniers.

Today is August 20, 2021 and we got out for a short 10 mile ride.

Taking the Salsa’s for a spin to Lake Superior. What a lonely, lovely spot!

Sliding onto the saddle of my Salsa Fargo I feel like I am getting re-acquainted with an old friend. We spin down the roadway and find ourselves at a quiet beach. This is peace, this is freedom, this living the life we choose with no excuses.

Life is Good ; Life doesn’t get much better than this!

After family has gone this next month we are loading up and hitting the road. We have gained weight and our butts are soft but we need this. We need the open road, the secluded trails, the lonely campsites. It re-sets the soul and we are ready, not physically but mentally. Cycling is physical but more than that it is mental. Hills are a mind f*ck and if you let them conquer you they win. The realization that “I can do it” is a strength that I rely on and push that little negative voice to the back. It doesn’t take and enormous physical ability to tour but it takes an open mind and willing attitude.

So get ready, CJBikeTours will soon be ready to roll. See you soon!

Winter Wonderland

It gets cold up THERE. It snows up THERE. WHY would you EVER want to live THERE? Statements that we have heard repeatedly after announcing we were looking for a place up north near Lake Superior. We searched this region specifically because it does get cold and it does snow among a vast number of other reasons. The locals asked if we were staying thru the winter as many land owners are seasonal and leave shortly after Labor Day. There was never a doubt that we would remain thru the winter.

The colors of fall were spectacular. November 1, 2019 we had brisk temperatures and leaves on the ground. Walks along our lovely lady, Lake Superior is always a treat and we never quite know what she is going to show us.

So many golden maple leaves!

The first snow came on November 2, 2019. It was a light dusting that blanketed the land and trees in white. Apples and leaves clung to the trees in a final attempt to hold onto the last days of fall. The snow muffles all sounds and the world seems so quiet and serene. The waves slapped the shoreline of the lake coating driftwood and dunes with a light layer of ice. Ice cycles dripped from so many areas along the beach.

Walks thru the woods became a reoccurring activity. Snow was not deep yet into the first week of December and the quiet of the landscape was inviting. Winds were squelched to almost zero deep in the trees.

Hemlock & Pine Forest Hikes

The Salsa Fargo bikes that Curtis built for us are incredible snow bikes and with snow on the ground we took advantage of the wide wheels and stable handling. There is always fun to be had if you look for it. Oh sure, we could have hid in the warmth of the house and avoided “the cold” but why would we ever want to do that when there is so many things to do and places to explore. And fun & exploration we did! We rode bikes, hiked thru the trees, built bonfires and sampled ice cycles.

We slid into the new year, welcome to 2020! Ontonagon is a beautiful village with such an iconic lighthouse. It also has some of the most incredible shoreline on Lake Superior. Our lovely lady dons a new wardrobe of ice and snow into the winter months. She takes on an interesting look of ice sculptures and art.

The Historic Ontonagon Lighthouse

Snow levels grew and the trails thru the trees no longer were possible UNTIL…. we discovered snowshoes. This was so much fun!! We made a trail through the back of the property, across the pond and into the city park. The local loop was about 2-1/2 miles long and we were able to enjoy the solitude and peace of this trail. It was used by several other locals and quite well marked.

Michael and Rachel came for a visit and we purchased 2 additional pairs of snow shoes. This was FUN!!

Curtis, Michael, Jenny & Rachel
Bonfires and Roasting Marshmallows Always a hit!!

Winter creates a landscape like nothing else. With Michael and Rachel we explored Bond Falls. Spectacular!

We learned to layer and dress for the cold temperatures finding that anything above Zero was actually enjoyable. We wore gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, buffs, boots, coats, vests and long johns. Layer upon layer we would don our duds and head outside.

Rosy Cheeks are the norm

By Mid February the snow was backing off and layers were dropping. Curtis and I took a snowshoe trail to O kun de Kun falls and this was by far one of our favorite snowshoe trails.

Days are starting to lengthen and our time outdoors grew even more. Roads were starting to clear. Snow would melt from the pavement only to freeze at night creating black ice. Black Ice is treacherous to say the least and despite the wide tires on our bikes, black ice took us both down.

So glad that the snow broke my fall when I spun out on black ice!

But the melting snow and ice pack didn’t stop us from enjoying the Salsa Fargos. The snowshoe trails were too slushy now and we had to hang up the snowshoes for the season. The bikes came out in full force and despite the wipeouts, we enjoyed the sunshine.

April 2, 2020 rolled around and the snow has cleared from the roadways. Our roadies made their debut.

The first snows fell the beginning of November and we hiked, walked, snowshoed and biked our way through the winter season. Days have lengthened and the sun shines high in the skies now. Winter is behind us for yet another season.

Excuses of why we can’t do something are put out of mind and thoughts of what CAN we do always came forward. Sure, there were cold days when the weather was prohibitive of us being able to go out and play. Those days were spent in the wood shop or on home repairs/remodels. We baked bread and cookies, created decadent soups and stews. Winter is what you make it! Life is what you make it.

You CAN or you CANNOT, it is your choice.

Taking the “roadies” out for a spin
April 1, 2020 The crocus are blooming, daffodils are sprouting, SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

MUP Tour 2019 : League of Michigan Bicyclists

July 7-13, 2019 Upper Penisula, Michigan

Curtis, Jenny and Moni at the start of MUP 2019

Organized bicycle tours are a fun way to meet new people and forge life long friendships. Over a decade ago I participated in a ride across Oklahoma taking me from the Texas border into Kansas. One such encounter in 2007 brought me face to face with Moni and a friendship was born. Now in 2019 here in UP we meet up again to enjoy a week of fun, fellowship and cycling as we explore a region of the country that we have never been to.

Moni and Jenny at Kitch-iti-kipi, the largest fresh water spring in Michigan

Day zero, which was a pre-ride for the official tour was a fast and fun 20 miler to a place called Kitch-iti-kipi. This translates to Big Spring and is the largest fresh water spring in Michigan. The crystal clear, emerald green waters were incredibly beautiful!

Sunday evening we hung around the fairgrounds for the official start on Monday morning. As the sun set over the fairgrounds, more and more cyclists rolled in. The eerie fog that rolls in from Lake Michigan created a very interesting sunset.

Monday morning came along and we hit the road, today will be a 65 mile day as we make our way to Escanaba.

From Escanaba we pulled two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) that were 74 miles plus. Our route took us from Escanaba to Cyrstal Falls on into Marquette.

On this tour we camp, the tent goes up every night. I have always found the traveleing tent city fascinating. The cell phone and electronics station is something of an electrical chaotic mess.

The youngest participant was a 5 year old little girl. She was so awesome! Not only did she not complain or fuss, but she was helpful with setting up. After she completed her chores she showed off her artist skills. This little girl was talkative and the giggle and laugh was fantastic. What a delightful child!

We had fun on the road and along the way. Lunch was provided on Tuesday and Wednesay. Long rows of bikes lined the fences and buildings where we stopped to enjoy box lunches.

Marquette, MI was a layover day. We had a day off and we enjoyed it immensely! We rode bikes downtown and toured the Historical Society Museum. The woman recommended a couple of restaurants for lunch and we took her advice and enjoyed lunch at The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery.

We checked out the local bike shop and cruised along Lake Superior. The lake is so beautiful!! I love the clear blue waters and the many nautical sites.

Black Rocks Brewery is incredible. There is so many bicycle themed things in there and the beer ROCKS. We met a number of other cyclists at Black Rocks, Mike, Bob and John who joined us for a lot of tall tales and laughter.

When we got back to camp, Curtis took a nap in the beautiful sunshine.

The flowers of UP, I am in heaven. The vibrant colors, wow just wow. Seems like I cannot pass up the colors as I cycle past them. Flowers have been and will always be a prominent part of my existance.

Leaving Marquette we cycled along beautiful Lake Superior. The sun was bright as it rose into the sky.

One of our rest stops was at Lakenenland, a local artist that created incredible beauty and humor with junkyard art.

The artist produced a lot of sculptures about greed, politics and corporate corruption. This one states “Caution Genuine North American Corporate Greed Pig” and it is shitting on the “Average American Worker 2004”
Yep, this one is pretty accurate.

Our final day was from Munising back to Manistique. We cycled through the village of Christmas where there is a huge cut out of Santa Claus as well as Christmas themed everything, street names, buildings, you name it.

We rolled into Manistique where our van awaited us. Moni camped in her tent Saturday night and we enjoyed the comfort of our van. We were tired and just enjoyed the relaxation.

The week long ride was pretty short at 343.5 miles with a nice bit of climbing; 8,978 feet. It took us through some beautiful countryside, on some relatively busier roads but that was simply because there are not a lot of alternate options. We met some great people along the way and on the ride. This gave us yet another good look at this region, UP Michigan from the seat of a bicycle. This was fun, the ride was fun and UP Michigan has not seen the last of us.

It was great getting together with Moni again. This ride is now one for the history book as we continue our journey.

Looking out over Lake Superior between Marquette and Munising, MI

Western Upper Peninsula – Michigan

West UP Michigan Meander

Day 1    Ironwood to Upson, WI : 16 miles

Day 2    Upson WI to Little Girl Point Campground : 22 miles

Day 3    Little Girl Point CG to Porcupine WC  : 47 miles

Day 4    Porcupine WC to Lake Superior WC : 29 miles

Day 5    Lake Superior WC to Ontonagon Campground : 26 miles

Day 6    Rest Day

Day 7    Ontonagon Campground to Emily Lake Campground : 31 miles

Day 8    Emily Lake Campground to Hancock Rec Area : 33 miles

Day 9    Hancock Rec Area to Lady Slipper Wild Camp : 29 miles

Day 10  Lady Slipper Wild Camp to High Rock Bay Wild Camp : 36 miles

Day 11  High Rock Bay Wild Camp to Cliff Drive Wild Camp : 23 miles

Day 12  Cliff Drive Wild Camp to Hancock Rec Area : 36 miles

Day 13  Rest Day

Day 14  Hancock Rec Area to Obijiwa Campground : 25 miles                            

Day 15  Obijiwa Campground to Courtney Lake Campground : 35 miles

Day 16 Courtney Lake Campground to Stannard Township RV Park : 35 miles    

Day 17  Stannard Township RV Park to Ironwood : 52 miles

Getting to know the true feel of an area is easily done from the seat of a bicycle, the attitudes of the people, the “feel” of the locals, atmosphere of the region.  We want(ed) to get to know this area of the country.  The cooler temperatures, the changing of the seasons, the slower pace of living all appeal to us and we want to get more acquainted with this area.

So, in order to do so we mapped out a near 500 mile loop on the western side of the UP of Michigan.  Yoopers are what they call themselves, we found the majority of these fine folks as pretty laid back, helpful and pretty down to earth.  We like that.  We were not looked at as oddities, no one stared at us in disbelief that we were on bicycles, we got more of the attitudes of cool and good for you.  This was refreshing. The other refreshing thing was the temperatures, it is mid-June and we are wearing jackets and/or long sleeves the entire time.  So much better than baking in high heat and humidity.

We left our van in Ironwood, MI and enjoyed lunch at a local café.  Ironwood has a history deep into mining and there was an exquisite mural in town dedicated to miners of the area. 

We made a slight detour west into the sister city of Hurly, WI before stopping in the small village of Upson and the local city park.  The Upson Park has a handful of campsites, complete with electricity and a hand pump water source.  There is a beautiful river running near by that has a pretty waterfalls.  The water is heavy in tannins creating an almost tea like look to the water.  We rolled in to the park in time to get our tent set up, build a quick fire and then settle into our new routine of camping.  Our tent is new yet it is familiar.  We replaced our MSR Hubbahubba tent when we returned from South America.  The original tent was pretty tired, zippers were worn out, small holes here and there had been patched over with tape, bug stains dotted the interior where we had smashed them into the fabric.  The new tent is pristine, it is bug gut free, the poles are still interconnected on the center support, the zippers slide easily and the fabric is shiny and new.

The sleeping pads came along from South America and we are still using the 2 pad method, a ZPad on the bottom and an air mattress on top.  The sleeping bags are still dirty from South America, we had planned to wash them but never quite got around to that.  We left behind the liner sheets as we found that we really didn’t use them much.

Camping is something we both enjoy and our campsites on this short tour were varied and a lot of fun.  We camped in organized campgrounds as well as bushwhacked our way into the woods and wild camped. 

Roads were mainly paved and traffic was light.  We discovered a Rail to Trails trail outside Mass City that headed north.  This was fun, hard at times due to soft sand and rough sections from the ATVs that race up and down (although we only saw 3).  Animals are plentiful, we saw deer every day and a lot of birds.  We even came across wolf tracks on the rail trail.  They are huge!  Snapping turtles lay eggs along the sandy trails in the boggy areas.  We saw a number of laying turtles.  We also saw one painted turtle.

We also saw many birds, the Loons are our favorite.  The Whistling Swans are giant compared to many other water fowl.  There are many babies on the water right now and we saw baby swans, Canada Geese and others. A momma Grouse and baby were crossing the road when a car came through. Momma ruffled up and went head to head with the car when her baby zipped under it. Luckily the car stopped, Curtis had to climb under and catch the baby before letting the tiny chick go back to it’s protective mother.

Loons also have babies and they will ride on the backs of the adults.

Flowers, oh my the flowers that are blooming are magnificent!  We saw four different types of orchids, two were Slipper varieties and the other two were just beautiful.  The blooming season is here and it seems no matter where we looked, whether open roadsides or deep forests we encountered something in bloom. 

The ride was tough at times, the hills were steep and the roads were sometimes remote and difficult with the wider tires of the Salsa Fargos.  The ride into Copper Harbor was beautiful, along the majestic Lake Superior. 

We were able to stop in town, enjoy Thimble Berry Turnovers and some really good coffee before continuing on. The ride past Copper Harbor was tough.  US41 starts just north of Copper Harbor, beyond that is a gravel, rutted, potholed road leading to the Point.  This was hard, we had a number of water crossing to tackle but the destination on the point to camp at no charge was too tempting to pass up. 

This was our favorite remote campsite.  The views of Lake Superior were stunning.  The lack of light pollution allowed us to see the Milky Way Galaxy very brightly as it reflected off the massive lake waters below.  My camera doesn’t due the night shots justice.  We camped on the edge of a small cliff that dropped into the clear waters of Superior.  Many others came to the point to marvel in the beauty of it, others pitched tents as well.  This is a place we will return to.

The ride off the point was a lot faster since it was mainly downhill.  We stopped for more of that wonderful coffee as well as Thimble Berry frosted cake donuts.  Leaving Copper Harbor was tough, the hills were steep, traffic was aggressive and we had a level of fatigue settling in. 

Why is it that vacationers traveling the byways tend to be the biggest assholes?  Many tend to be in a hurry, impatient, impulsive and extremely aggressive.  Aren’t vacations intended to help people relax?  If so, why the obnoxious attitude by so many?  This was the worst stretch of road of our entire UP Tour and they aggressiveness all came from RVs and out of state license plates.  Sad, so sad that people get so stressed while they are trying to relax. 

Despite shorter distances each day, this was tough cycling on the trails and dirt roads.  We were exhausted when we made it back to the Hancock Rec Area so we opted to pay for two nights at the campground.  We built campfires and relaxed.  With a day rest behind us we were back on our bikes and heading back toward to the van.

National and State Forest Campgrounds are rustic but there are typically picnic tables, fire rings and some sort of bathroom facility.  These have a small fee to them but it is well worth it.  The wild camping is our standard disappear into the woods where no one sees or hears us.  Often times, these are our favorite camping areas, they are quiet and remote and we sleep long and deep under the stars. 

The bugs are out though, the mosquitos and flies are pretty wicked but it’s one of those things that we just deal with. There is no reason to get mad or spiteful about the bloodsucking insect invasion, it happens. Deet is our friend and we both use the Repel or Off.

Many small towns have Recreation areas or campgrounds in town and they are nice.  Bruce Crossing has the Stannard Township RV Park that has a hand full of sites with electric and water, a bathhouse and fantastic shower all for $15 a night.  We enjoyed our time in Bruce Crossing and then continued on using the Rail Trail in the area.

The Ontonagon Township Park

It’s time to wrap up this mini-tour and we made a big push the final day back to our van.  We really like the areas we cycled but now it’s time to put the Salsas away and dust off the Roadies.  MUP, a supported multi-day tour is just around the corner and the road bikes will take the place of our Salsas.  It will give us a chance to see a different side of cycling here in the beautiful UP of Michigan.

Victory Section of the Ozark Trail – Missouri

National Forest lands on the USA are an incredible treasure to be enjoyed by all. Finding flat, dry open areas to park the van for a few days is not always an easy task but we located this beautiful area at a trailhead. The area is commonly used for horseback riding but we wanted to take the bikes out and see what fun we could get into. The region is ripe with trails and backroads that zigzag around. I put together an 8 mile route from the van. It should take us a couple of hours max, or so I thought.

We spent a couple of nights here, enjoying the clear skies.

There are no maps at the entrance and other than the GPS maps we had created on Ride with GPS, we really had no idea as to what to expect.

The trail was pretty easy to follow in most places.

Starting out from the van we headed directly into the forest on the well used horse trail. It was pretty rough with a lot of rocks and roots. Sunlight filtered through the dense trees dotting the ground with spots of light.

Double tracks was more fun.

We opted to move over to a double track old roadbed that was smoother and clear of the big rocks and muddy areas. This was much more fun and I would have to say I prefer the double track over the single.

We were not the only creatures out on the trails today. Snakes and turtles were sunning themselves, warming up in the sunshine.

The trail took us to a creek bottom. We had suspected there would be flowing water or at least we had hoped there would be. It was pretty warm now and the ride down took us a lot longer than expected. So far the trail was pretty easy to navigate. We had to venture off the double track since it forked; one fork dead ending and the other leading to very strongly marked Private Property. We were now back on the single track trail.

We took advantage of the creek in the ravine and washed our hair. It’s been quite a few days since our last shower and this felt great!

Living out of the van we have to adapt and learn new ways of doing things. The journey through the Americas on the bikes prepped us for many of these things so washing our hair and rinsing off in the stream was not all that unusual for us.

The route that I had mapped degraded and we found ourselves on some overgrown areas with thick grasses.

We had to bushwack our way through some of the area. The butterflies were happy with the flowers growing among the grasses.

Well, the one downfall of the tall grasses was what seemed to be a tick infestation. This was horrible and by the time we made our way back to the double track, adding about 2 miles to our route since the one I had mapped was totally impassable and we had to improvise, we were literally covered in ticks. Yes, ticks…AUGH! I hate ticks, tasty little blood sucking creatures. There are critters that I really have to remember to ask the Good Lord, “Why?” and ticks are one of them. It’s not like they are a food source for anything. They are vile, nasty little pesks.

Picking ticks ….

It took us hours, yes hours to traverse the 10-1/2 miles through a portion of the trails. We made our way back to the roadbed where we stopped to brush off literally hundreds of ticks from our clothing. We spent at least 15 minutes doing so. When we got back to the van we had to use some Dawn dish detergent and cotton balls to remove a few that had already imbedded. The bigger ones were easier to feel as the latched on, we could also feel them crawling easier. It was the little ones, the seed ticks that were the hard ones to find. We ended up removing a dozen or so that found there way to us un-noticed.

Blood sucking nasties, the tick unfestation of this region was horrible but the trails are ones that we would like to return to and explore further.

By the time we got back to the van it was after 3PM, the 10 miles had taken us well past lunch time and when we got back we were both starving. We have learned that scrambled eggs with black beans makes a very fast and hearty meal. Add in a number of tortillas and voile we fill our bellies.

Life is good, even when the bugs are bad.

Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trails – Arkansas

The Salsa Fargo bikes had some “dry” fun out at Big Bend National Park but it’s time to see what these big boys are made of. Lets see how they do somewhere a bit more muddy.

This NW region of Arkansas is incredible. For the 4 days / 3 nights we were here we saw 2 other people on the trails. We only saw a handful of cars/trucks. Peaceful, absolutely peaceful. The system has two main trailhead parking areas, we chose the furthest one. The trail system is tough. The photo above is a segment, there are a number of additional trails that we never got to. Between walking and cycling, we covered all on the map.

There are natural sources for water so we filtered our own while we were here.

Hidden waterfalls and cascades were common on the trails. This is a wet area and we sure had a muddy fun good time.

Water crossings were numerous and we embraced each and every wet and muddy one. We were able to cycle through a few but others it was either too deep our too rocky, hence we pushed the bikes. Can one say Wet Feet?

Trails were muddy and sometimes a bit overgrown. We loved it. Deer ran along with us on a few occassions. We had the entire area to ourselves. These trails were hard, they were tough but the Salsas performed beautifully tackling the muddy trails with ease.

We did enjoy some gravel roads as well. This didn’t make them any less muddy but they sure were easier going. Deer seemed unafraid of us being there.

The final day of riding was the toughest with a number of water crossings as well as a downed tree over the road.

We plan to go back to this area one day and explore the numerous other trails. Some of the trails are marked “easy”, others were listed as moderate or difficult. We never tried any of the difficult trails but I wouldn’t mind walking them.

Pure Joy

Time together is precious, it’s the moments like this that bond us together. We grit our teeth, slog through the mud and enjoy what this beautiful world has to offer us. Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trails are incredible and we will be back.

Beauty & the Beast

Oh how I’ve missed the open roads, the thrill of the ride, the peace and solitude of getting out on the bikes. Beauty and the Beast bicycle ride is a fabulous one day bike ride based out of Bullard, TX. It is hosted by the Tyler Bicycle Club and wonderfully supported. There was a number of route and distance options and we chose the longest ride, just over 62 miles.

Jenny on her Bianchi warming up before the ride start.

With cool temperatures and a bright blue sky, we parked at the Bullard High School and readied ourselves for the ride. Today we will ride our roadies, Jenny rides a Bianchi Dama Intrepida and Curtis rides a Gunnar Sport. These are lightweight, fast and fun little play toys. We break out the clip in shoes and dust off the helmets. This is going to be fun.

Sandi K. and Jenny waiting for the ride to start.

We picked up our packets, ate breakfast in the back of the van, visited with a few cyclists and waited for the ride to begin. The Star Spangled Banner played in the background and cyclists lined up for the mass start at 9AM.

We met up with Sandi K., a friend from years past on Oklahoma Freewheel. It was so great to see her again. Sandi opted for a shorter ride today and Curtis & I chose the 62 miler with lots and lots of hills, over 3,000 feet of climbing with just about the same amount of descending. I love hills and this is going to be a blast.

And we rolled, in a mass group of other cyclists. We had to watch for others weaving and bobbing their way through the hillsides. The air is cool and the sun is warm. The bikes fly along the road as we cruised the first 10 miles to the first rest stop.

Rest Stop #1, bikes bikes everywhere. The rest stop is a great rest stop completed with cold water and fruit snacks.

Fully amazed at the ease of these bikes, they fly. We leave behind the panniers and the heavy Surlys. Today is a day where we can just play on the bikes and we both need that. My mind wanders and drifts as we weave through the countryside. I needed this ride. It resets my inner being and the feel of the wind on my cheeks revitalizes me. I find myself smiling, non-stop and I love it. The hills roll and with each passing hill I smile. I love hills, everyone who knows me knows this little fact and these hills do not disappoint. This ride energizes my soul and I find myself in that peaceful place in my head and heart. I am at home, home on a bike and I am happy.

Jenny & Curtis wearing their Patagonia, Argentina cycling jerseys.
We bought these in El Chalten, Argentina.

We stopped at each rest stop, snacking on our old stand-bys of oranges and bananas. These foods have been such a frequent go-to and they work for us. The rest stops were filled with other cyclists and the jerseys we had on started to generate a few questions. The most common was “Did you cycle in Argentina?” Not only did we cycle there we cycled Alaska to Argentina. This often left jaws dropped and led to more questions.

A familiar scene at the rest stops.

Nearing the end we were quizzed by a young man. This led to a conversation that led to “the quote of the day” for us.

Young Man: What do you do? I mean how can you afford this? Curtis: Well, I was a firefighter/paramedic for 30 years and retired. Young Man: I guess maybe I should do something besides work at Walmart. Curtis: Silence. Young Man: Did you carry a gun through them dangerous countries? You know how dangerous this world is we live in. Curtis (with the quote of the day): That may be the world you think you live in but the rest of us don’t live in a world like that.

This left that young man scratching his head, afraid of living, afraid of the people across the street, afraid of anyone not like him, afraid of the world around him. So sad, so very very sad. The world around us is not a scary place. There are pockets of dangerous places, in other countries as well as here in the US of A, the US is not immune to it. Truth be told, the worst aggression towards us has been in the US, not other countries.

The countryside and the quiet roads were refreshing. The hills were so much fun. Springtime in East Texas is spactacular and this is a time of year and location that we will repeat.

At the top of “The Beast”, we slayed it.

The final hill which is the namesake of this ride is a 1/2 mile hill that tops out at an 11% grade. Granted this double digit section was very short but it was a blood pumper.

Augh, Bike Shorts; thanks Curtis for this butt-grab shot.

Today is the first time I’ve worn bike shorts since sometime back in Peru. These padded things kept climbing up my backside and I found myself trying to retrieve them a few times. Top that with a chafe that was not at all amuzing on the whoo-haw, I think this will be the last true bike shorts experience. Maybe my ass is just hardened to where I don’t need them, maybe the bike saddles are just good enough without padded shorts. Bottom line, yea I think I will stick with yoga shorts or compression shorts. These bike shorts have gotta go!

Our road bikes at the top of “The Beast”. These bikes handled this ride today with great ease.
We got finishers medals and a huge pasta lunch after the ride.

We finished up the ride about 3PM, a few others straggled in after us. The hard core road pounders were fast and furious, finishing up a lot faster than us. But this ride was so needed, my legs were happy, my heart was happy, my lungs were happy, my soul sang with glee.

It was good to be back on the saddle.

Gulf Coast Cruise

Could this be JKL – Just Keep Living?

It is very possible, but the idea of continuing a daily blog/journal is a huge undertaking. I have so enjoyed the daily writing and photography that has been done these past 2 years 7 months and handful of days but it is tiring.

We flew into New Orleans, LA and hailed a taxi to take us to a WarmShower’s host in Gramercy. From there we spent two nights where we got the bikes put back together. It felt good to have a full bike shop and space to work.

It was a sunny, cold day when we left Gramercy, LA. The sun was high in the sky but the air was freezing cold. Ice crystals coated the plants in the shaded areas of the ditch. Our first “hill” was crossing the Mississippi River on one of the high bridges.

The ride west was rather uneventful. It felt amazing to be back in the states, cycling had a familiarity to it which was very nice. We know what to expect, signs are typically obeyed. Our route took us along the Gulf Coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Enjoying a remarkable State Park called Palmetto Island State Park, we listened to the coyotes howl and the owl call out. We also stayed at a free camp area called Rutherford Beach and were gifted with one of the most beautiful sunsets over the Gulf.

Sunrise at Rutherford Beach was incredible. It was cold, very cold and so windy but the views were spectacular.

On into Texas, now we are onto roads that I have been on in the past.

Our final state in our final country of this journey. Welcome to Texas, these bikes have come full circle.

We stayed right along the Gulf Coast, cycling through Galveston and heading deeper south. The riding was windy, so windy but it was enjoyable. We pulled long days in the saddle but we were both ready to be done with this journey. Our lives need to close this chapter out and start a new chapter. The cycling through Texas, beautiful. Our day into Port Lavaca was a wash out and we got hit with a lot of rain and mud. We were met by a classmate of mine from Aranas Pass, a hearty greeting from Keith H.

Our final day was from Port Lavaca to Aransas Pass, this will be a near 65 mile day. The road was good, the winds were cooperative and we made good time.

We were met at my parents home by a reporter from Corpus Christi and a local reporter. This was a surprise and the local reporter did an amazing write up.

So our journey of the Americas is now complete and the next chapter has opened and the words are slowly being written. Our cycling is far from over and we actually have bought new bikes for more off road adventures. My CrazyGuyOnABike daily journaling has come to an end. It was a true labor of love but it was very very difficult to keep it up to date. From here on out we will share our stories of our future rides and adventures.

Thank you to all who followed us along on our journey through the Americas. It is an event that no one can ever take away from us and the memories are enough to last throughout our lifetime and well into our next.