Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Great Escape

This is a guest blog post by Erick, my amazing husband.  He wanted to do an epic bike adventure this summer to pay tribute to his mother.  She passed away before her prime.  I never got to meet her, but I know that she would be proud of him.  In honor to her he wanted to ride from our home to our property, close to where he lived as a child.  There is no bringing back a loved one that has left us.  But there is a spiritual force that is with us, when we take these journeys and venture into our own great unknown.

I'll take one second to tell my husband that I have never been more proud of him.  This ride was so far out of his comfort zone, it took a lot of planning, some changing plans after they were set and then actually following through with this.  You are my hero.  Love you babe.

What follows is Erick's report that I copied from his Facebook feed.  

Ride report: Wednesday: I started my adventure at 7:00 am. The weather was near perfect. Winds were moderate out of the north east. I rode Clinton River trail to Paint Creek trail to Gunn Rd and onto Lake George Rd north to Sutton and worked my way northwest toward 5 Lakes Rd and crossed over I-69. I continued north to Kings Mill Rd. The country road/dirt riding was excellent. Lite traffic and only one honking angry driver near Lake George and Oakwood Rd. I had a chance to stop for resupply at the Five Lakes Grocery on Kings Mill Rd. I was an old service station from the about the 1930's and the senior lady was very nice and asked me all about the ride and where I was headed. She asked if I had anything to eat; I said yes. She insisted I have a Zinger cake on the house. I was delicious. I worked west into Coulmbiaville, Mi and ate lunch at Subway. I started onto the Southern Links Trailway and headed north. I passed through Otter Lake and ended the trail in Millington, Mi. As I worked west again on Murphy Lake Rd and picked up Vassar Rd north. The traffic on Vassar road was wicked fast. No honking, but no moving over either. I stopped to assess my mental attitude and if I was pushing the energy to far. I decided it was not wise to try and make Midland on day one. I elected to turn west onto Ormes Rd and head into Frankenmuth and camp at Jellystone. I ended the day at 77 miles. It was a great first day and only one angry driver out of hundreds for the day.

Ride report Thursday: I awoke from a restful tent camp in Frankenmuth and started my second day of riding. I was refreshed and mentally prepared for the journey ahead. I entered the the US 20 bike route and met up with two men, who started in Brunswick, Maine and were headed to Oregon coast. We leap frogged north toward Bay City. They moved ahead of me on a steady 15 mph pace. Their bikes weighed in at 90 pounds. They were solid riders. I kept a pace of 13 mph. I felt strong. I turned west onto Harger Line Rail Trail and rode a beautiful paved rail trail to Portsmouth Rd. I turned north and heard several sirens approaching. One police car moving quickly north on Portsmouth Rd. I continued north. I crossed M-81 and saw a rescue truck rapidly approaching from the west. Sirens and lights active. I pulled off the road and waited. They passed. I was concerned about the two west riders, that were about 1-2 miles ahead were somehow involved. I poured on the steam and was covering a 18 mph pace for several miles. I looked ahead and saw cars turning around. Police cars and fire trucks and an ambulance had blocked the roadway ahead. I saw one of the riders pushing his bike at the scene. I hoped and prayed they were not hit. I arrived and moved pass some stopped cars on the shoulder and then saw the second rider was pushing his bike through a front lawn of a farm. They were not involved in the accident. I crossed through the yard and observed a garbage truck stopped and a FedEx truck had rear ended the stopped garbage truck. Due to the damage and crushed front cab area of the FedEx truck, it was a serious injury accident. MLive says it was not a fatal. I rode into Bay City and stopped for a much needed food at McDonalds and then rode a few miles to water up at Rays Bike shop in Bay City. I had started to develop a sore left knee, along the top of the knee. I rested briefly and worked west on Salzburg Rd. The knee pain was becoming a concern. Downward pressure caused a lot of pain. I called Saundra Lee and she made contact with Judy and Dan at the Trek bike store on Hall Rd. They advised I raise my saddle. I did and the pain went away after a few miles. I rode into Midland and stopped at Rays Bike shop for a break and had coffee and spoke with several workers and talked about rigs and adventures. It was great to meet these guys. I entered the Pere Marquette Rail trail and forged ahead to Clare, Mi. I had intended to ride to Evart, Mi. making it a 100+ day. It was not to be. I stopped in Clare and covered 78 miles on day 2. I was tired and needed a comfy bed. I stayed at the historic Doherty Hotel. I arrived later than I expected and missed a chance to stop again at a Rays Bike shop in Clare. Next time I'm through Clare, will stop for sure. And for those wondering, I did not stop and get a donut. I stank to much to enter the bakery.

Ride report Friday: I set the automated wake up time for 0700 hours and planned to ride to Cadillac Mi. I awoke to people talking loudly in the hotel hallway. Surely they must be early risers. I peek at the clock and huge red numbers read 9:00. I blink a few times, foggy mentally. I check it again and 0901. So much for the lovely computer voice taking my wake up time. I get up and look at the gear strewn around the room. I don't panic. I get items in order of importance for the day. After two days on the bike, I learned what needs to go where on the bike. I check out and start riding at 9:45 hours. No donut again and no breakfast. I entered the second section on the Pere Marquette trail and work west at a 13 mph pace. About 30 minutes later I look back and see two riders approaching. I recognize the gear and knows it's the two west riders from the prior day. We stopped and chatted for a few. They had stopped in Coleman at a friends house. They were looking to stop in Reed City about 40 miles away. I was headed to a short day of 70 miles. I wished them luck and a safe journey. I arrived in Evart, Mi and stopped at a fantastic car hop. The girls even had the metal coin belts. I rode up and sat at the picnic tables and chewed on a double cheese burger, curly fries and a small root beer float. It was just what I wanted for breakfast. Several locals asked about my Jersey (Mountain Bike Patrol) I was very happy to tell them about our organization. I got several long stares about where I started riding from and where I was riding to. Breakfast was over and now to ride west to Reed City. I finished the Pere Marquette trail at 42 miles for my day. The west riders waved as I turned north onto the White Pine trail from Reed City to Cadillac. I was about 1/2 mile north and realized I forgot to get water. I turned around and stopped at the trailhead depot and filled up. I filled up and turned back north. I started the White Pine at 4:00 pm and decided, to go for the "BARN". The first 10-15 miles on this trail is loose gravel with grass down the middle. I knew it would slow my down. I rode strong and energized about finishing the ride on this day. I kept a great pace of 12-14 mph. The surface was packed perfect. I knew I had to eat more today, if I wanted to stay mentally alert and strong. I stopped in Le Roy Mi at a great diner (Mr. Pibb) this place was packed and the food smelled way better than I did. A grilled chicken sandwich, chips, pickle and large Pepsi was perfect. Several folks asked about my ride. They see lots of riders in the area. It turns out, Le Roy is on routes for the US bike and Michigan bike ways. I ate and rested and knew I was 14 miles from Cadillac. The trail surface was paved all the way to Cadillac. I passed under US 131 and under M-55 and into Cadillac to end the White Pine Trail. I worked through the streets toward the final stage of the day. I stopped at Wesco gas station and got 1.5 liter bottle of water and then stopped for food at McDonalds and consumed 1 2/3 grilled chicken sandwich. I knew this last push of 27 ish miles will have no water or food options. The sun was setting and the most challenging section was the last 7 miles. I worked north on a highway and then turned northwest on country dirt roads for 20 miles. The moon was hazed. I had lights active and made sure to hydrate. Several large walk a bike sections presented a challenge. Mentally, I was all in. Physically, the knee pain was nearly gone and I felt great and as strong as when I started north from Clare. As I approached the ATV bridge that crosses the Manistee River. The heavy sand was becoming more apparent. I stayed straight and kept a view as far ahead as my light projected. I can see the reflective panels to the bridge. I saw a stopped pick up truck parked ahead, it appears empty. I keep pushing ahead. I'm nearly there. I look up and straight out of a Stephen King scene. I see a man standing at the entrance to the bridge. His back is to me. I see beyond him, candles lite up all along the bridge sides. I see what looks like flowers strewn along the floor of the bridge. My mind races. My security level is maxed out. I'm within 20feet as I roll forward. I look beyond the man and see a second man and a women standing on the bridge holding flowers. I tell them I'm passing through. They step aside. I enter the bridge and see a parked ATV blocking the exit to bridge. I attempt to move from the right side to the left side of the bridge. I don't see two raise metal rails and loose balance and fall over. I catch myself quickly. The trio ask if I'm ok. I said yes and righted myself and moved past the ATV and off the bridge. As strange things go.....that was strange. I'm now 7 miles from the end of my adventure. I moved north and stop for a brief mental check. I am now entering the most difficult section. These next 2 miles are 4x4 jeep tracks with lots of sand. I knew I would have bike-a-hike for nearly a mile. I work thru sand, I'm tired. I keep updating Saundra Lee about my location this track has no name or number. It's back in the woods. I knew I had to make a right hand turn in one mile. I see it coming. I'm almost there. I make the turn and as I reach for a water bottle. I hear coyotes let loose with howling. Not just one, two or even three. I mean about a dozen. I guessed they might be within 1/4 mile. They know I'm here. I now know they are out there. I jump on the bike and pedal, like Elliot in E.T. Go home !!! I'm hauling as fast as I can. I knew there was "y" track change and I had to stay right. I miss it. I start down a left track. Every crack of limbs and branches means these animals are about to jump my from behind. I hit a t-junction. I'm lost. I check my phone and pray for a signal and the blue dot. I get it. I see I'm west of where I need to be. I don't tell sandy just yet. I have used up a ton of reserve energy. I walk quickly east. I check my compass to make sure I'm east bound. I see the trail marker and turn north onto the correct route. I let sandy know what happened. I moving 15 mph down a two track and pop out onto Walton Rd and it's paved. I'm out of forest. I'm 5 miles from being done. I'm on the roads of my youth. I'm approaching my childhood home. I'm talking aloud about the route. My GoPro only sees a white bean of light. I near the front of the house and look at it. So, many emotions flood me. This is my 4820 ! I'm tearing up as I write this. Those that know me, understand what that means. For those that don't: my mother died when she was 48 years old. I'm now that age. I wanted to make this journey for me and her. I stare at the house and all I can get out is I Love you Mom, I miss you. I pass the house and feel peace. I ride north on Hodge, on the same route I rode when I was a kid. I push forward. Renewed and focused. I turn west and head 2 miles. I turn north for my last mile. One more mile ! I hit M113 and I'm 1320 feet to the barn. I finished at 12:10 AM Saturday June 10. 104 miles for the day, my first ever century ride, and 256.6 miles total. It was a 14.5 hour day of riding. I accomplished a lot on my journey. I had time to reflect on my life and to thing about the people who are part of it. I publicly want to thank my wife Saundra Lee for all her love and support. She is my inspiration for life. I love you beyond measure. To Paul Hytinen many thanks for the training and guidance to endurance cycling. You're a powerhouse of strength. To all my family and friends for their support. Most of all to Carole Beauchamp for her prizes and 🤑🤑🤑. Your generosity is unparalleled. Thank you all for watching. Until the next exciting episode !

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