Sees Like a River Tour Day 3 and 4
More than likely this is going to become a blog about roads. Taking the back way day after day, it's hard not to become fascinated with all the varying subtleties between landscapes. The color of the dirt, the trees, weeds and wildflowers. Like the faces of strangers they can all blend together but upon closer inspection they are far from the same.
Day 3 was 110 or so miles across what was left of Wisconsin and into Michigan. It was hard to find gravel without going way out of my way so like much of life I made what seemed a reasonable compromise and rode the gravel that made sense and took pavement the rest of the way. I was thankful for this section pictured above that led me through the Bad River Reservation where I didn't see a single person. Just the silhouettes of deer standing off ahead of me in the middle of the road. Many of which let me ride past without running off.
Ended the day camped on the shore of Lake Superior where there was a small craft advisory and the waves crashed like 18 wheelers and halting trains all night.
Day 4 was when things got interesting. I had planned to cross from the Porcupine mountains to Houghton on what I knew would be a pretty rough route. It did not disappoint. This was one of the wettest stretches. I saw no humans for what felt like an eternity.
Before I left people had started to ask me about riding alone on back roads. Inquiring if I was afraid of red necks, or other weirdos in the woods. I began to psyche myself out a bit even though I have logged plenty of miles alone in the woods, enough to still any potential fear or concern.
This warning/concern from strangers was not dissimilar to when I went around Lake Superior and people kept cautioning me about riding in Canada and how dangerous it was. Yet when I got to Canada it was absolutely fine. What I realized on that trip was that most of the people who were warning me had never ridin on the Canadian highway. In riding all these back roads I'm forced to draw the same conclusion becasue everyone I continue to come across out on these roads has been friendly and warm.
In about 50 miles of the 75 I did yesterday the only people I saw was an old man and old woman on Misery Bay road walking towards each other in the rain. The woman carrying an umbrella. The man just getting rained on. But smiling nonetheless.
The truth is the people I meet out on these woods are there for the same reason I am. They want to be left alone. They want quiet and space.
My take away is that we spend way to much time feeding fear and not enough time feeding wonder and imagination. We must extend more positivity and kindness of spirit towards strangers and unknown roads. What you feed grows. Be it fear or wonder, I choose wonder.
My friend Curt who is highly active in the Houghton/Hancock cycling community organized a group of folks to ride out and meet me on my way in. What was unique about this was that rather than riding as a group toward me he just gave people the route and they rode towards me as it suited their schedule. This meant that the group formed and grew as I got closer to town. A very joyful feeling to keep collecting folks as we went through the rain and fog.
Rolling into Houghton we made a stope at KBC brewery where the owner apparently saw my bike out front in the rain and walked around asking whose rig it was. When she found me she handed me a bunch of beer tokens (which I later learned have more value than the US dollar).
The night ended with my show at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock, MI where I also screened Instruments of Adventure, a film made by my friend Bjorn Olson about a fat bike and pack raft trip my wife Amy and I did last summer with he and his partner Kim on the Kenai, Peninsula in Alaska. The film was presented by Salsa Cycles and I wrote the music. It was awesome to see it up on the big screen.
After the wet and muddy ride to Houghton my bike was fairly caked. Before taking Rythum Cycles's up on the offer to use their bike wash I joined a group in town down by the canal for morning coffee.
I am continuously filled with gratitude for these adventures and all the generous people who share their stories and wisdom with me.
Next stop Huron Mountains and Yellow dog plains. Then on to Marquette.