Saturday, 31 July 2010

Day 41. London to Brantford.

We had a late start this morning (8.30 am load) as the hotel we were going to rarely had the rooms ready by the time cyclists have got there previously.  The result was that everyone was up and hanging about as we are all so used to being up at the crack of dawn!
This being Ontario, I saw continued references to Scotland.
I stopped in Oakland at a service station and for the first time saw how the local fisherman were catered for!
Unfortunately, I am unable to show you as the internet is painfully slow
and rejecting picture uploads.
Ginseng is one of the major crops in the area and for some unknown reason, the local university is called Nipissing!!! Our hotel is not the best tonight and we have been advised not to leaves bags/bikes unattended in the car park in the morning lest they go missing.  We were taken to a Best Western hotel for our evening meal and it was an excellent 'all you can eat' buffet with prime ribs as my main course of choice.  Just as well we don't get to eat like that every night.
Niagara Falls beckons tomorrow followed by a rest day.
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 69
Climbing - 1250 feet
Time in Saddle - 5 hrs 45 mins.
Average Speed - 12 mph

Friday, 30 July 2010

Port Huron to London, Ontarion Canada.

Today was a well organised morning to say the least as we had to cross from the U.S.A to Canada. We loaded by 6.30am and were all lined up waiting for the expected off at 07:20. It was a beautiful morning, lovely and cool and we all wore our ABB jerseys as the officials were closing the bridge to other traffic so we could ride across unhindered.

We had a marvellous ride over the bridge which was a bit of a dress rehearsal for our arrival in Portsmouth, I reckon and there was something terribly emotional about 50 plus cyclists in the same shirts riding together.
My last Canada experience was a great one so I wondered if this would be the same?
We had a bit of a detour courtesy of Jeff to meet his Mum and see what the underside of the bridge looked like.  I saw this and it reminded me of Neil Young's album 'War' and the song 'Flags of Freedom'.
I found that the Canadian countryside reminded me of Wisconsin in that people take pride in the presentation of their properties be they farms, or houses with huge gardens.
I did think that planting a seed in a disused silo was an interesting way of training a tree?
Perhaps this family was responsible?
And this is where they appear to live!

What was that I was saying about nice houses? Shortly after, I was flagged down by a resident who was curious about all the cyclists in matching shirts who had gone past his house. This was swiftly followed by a motorist and both wished us a warm welcome to Canada and good luck for the ride - nice.
We then passed through the town of Strathroy and I concurred with the local golf club's views on how to enjoy the summer weather.
No,it bloody well doesn't!!!
I could happily become a member of the Optimist Club.
I then spent some time looking for the pessimist club but couldn't find it.  I suppose the residents thought it was a waste of time and would have little support.!!!!!!!!!!
Now, cyclists do wear some odd gear from time to time but I had not realised that we had members of the Bolshoi Ballet in our midst!!!
A picture of sartorial elegance or an audition for 'Men in Tights'?  You decide!! Actually, they are for protction from the sun.  Would I be seen wearing them?  You decide?
After arriving safely at our hotel and showering etc, my attention was drawn to the local opportunities for a bit of relaxation.  There was no menu on the door so I went to the 'Hustler Pool Club' for a beer instead!
And I was glad I did as I met the owner of this rather tasty Harley inside and we had some good craic which caused me to miss Rap. 
Today was a bit longer than planned because of some unexpected road construction but was a pretty easy day with few hills (Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay).
Today's Stats.
Mileage - Intended 80.Actual 88
Climbing - 1500
Time In Saddle 6 hrs 45 mins
Average Speed - 13 mph

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Day 39. Birch Run to Port Huron

Once again, when a day that looks easy on paper comes along, something happens to make it less easy than it might have been.  In this case a fairly strong Nor' Nor' Easterly.  On the positive side, it kept things nice and cool all day and because the terrain was fairly flat, it was still possible to keep up a reasonable speed. My first photo is a great example of how not to cycle on a 2 lane road (i.e.taking up the whole lane by cycling 3/4 abreast). 
Anyway, I was glad they had passed me and then wondered what I was supposed to do with one of these?
Perhaps it is a kind of animal timeshare!
I then found a thistle field, I suppose used to supply yesterday's Scottish town.
I discovered another truck field.

I was also able to confirm that some people's garages were almost as big as their whole house!

We really went from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of road surface.  Some were perfect and others were like this!

As we entered Port Huron which borders Lake Huron, another of the Great Lakes, there were clear signs of affluence with some realy big lakeside properties on view.  These are my two contenders for 'House of the Day'. The first in the country and the second by the lake.
I went to have a quick peek at the beach and saw that someone had got some sticky letters and deliberately misspelt the signs. Hmmmm.
Off to Canada for a few days tomorrow so wish me luck getting out of and back into the USA.
Today's Stats.
Intended Mileage - 87
Actual Mileage - 90 (daydreaming and missed a turn!!)
Climbing - 800 feet
Time in Saddle -6 hrs 35 mins
Average Speed 13. 6 mph.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Day 38. Mount Pleasant to Birch Run

We awoke to strong SSW winds which had us excited as it was looking like a tailwind all the way.  Unfortunately, after 2 miles we turned South and had to endure 24 miles of headwinds. Damn!!!  On the positive side, the wind kept us pretty cool.  I keep seeing things in front gardens with for sale signs on, too many to photograph, and occasionally houses 'for sale by owner', usually with a nice printed sign.  I wonder how long this one has been on the market?

I cycled past another 'farm' where the cattle did not have the benefit of grass to eat and appeared to be squashed in to the pens. Clearly, feeding America's waddling population at the likes of Perkins, the Ponderosa and the many others like them takes precedence over the treatment of animals.

After 18 miles, I was somewhat taken aback when I discovered a little bit of the Mother Country in the middle of Michigan!!!

I am very glad I picked this jersey today.  I had to enlist the aid of the greenkeeper who was cutting the green behind me to take my photo.  When I told him I was Scottish his expression was remarkable and he shook my hand!!  It turns out that Alma has an annual Highland Games with over 30 pipe bands attending.
It has been nice to see a change in crops being grown but I thought that this was particularly unusual!!
As I got a bit further on, I wondered if the residents were aware that the Civil War ended some time ago?

The last miles seemed to go on forever but I arrived eventually.  What had promised to be a really easy day was far from difficult but made longer because of the wind.  Things look more promising tomorrow, especially after a visit to this shop next to the hotel!!!

Today's Stats.
Mileage - 77(due to detour)
Climbing - 625 feet
Time In Saddle - 5 hours 38 mins
Average Speed - 13.6 mph

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Day 37. Ludington to Mount Pleasant

Breakfast at 6.30 followed by loading at 7 and a fast getaway.  I was in the market for a new car but with 113 miles to go, I thought I might have some better options later in the ride!
If this is Big Jackson, I wonder what Small Jackson is like?

We cycled through some seriously diverse areas today and I was chased by an alsatian dog.  I remembered Mr Perry's words of wisdom and as it got close to me, I shouted, "Git in the truck"in my best Michigan accent.  Amazingly, the dog stopped instantaneously and I pedalled furiously onwards , hoping it would not realise it's mistake.  Cheers Andy!!
As I pedalled on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, I thought this offering might be more my style

but I did wonder what they watched on television?

Now that is a satellite dish and a half!
At the time I took this picture, I glanced at my cycle computer which said 89 degrees and thought I would probably be OK.

And this got my vote for 'House Of The Day'
Our third SAG stop at 82 miles was at the local Senior Centre. It is a new experience every year for the residents!!! This was in the Gent's.
I passed through this area a quickly as I could just in case!
I did wonder if this family would do a trade in?

This was an interesting but rather undulating day and I was glad to get to the hotel. No more centuries, ever!
Today's Stats.
Mileage - 113
Climbing - 2410 feet
Time in saddle - 9hrs 20 mins
Average Speed  - 12.1 mph

Day 36 Ferry Ride/Ludington

Today wasn't really a day off as we had to cross Lake Michigan to get to Ludington.  The van was loaded at 9am and myself Don and Jersey Mark ('cos that's where he comes from and we have several Marks on the trip) cycled to the Culture Cafe for breakfast.  I was intrigued by the back to front clock.
I believe that is a quarter to ten!!!
After a breakfast wrap and some coffee, we cycled into Fond du Lac which is apparently famous for it's crane making.  I saw this bike in a shop window and it has a crane built into the rear.

Some people went to the Maritime museum but I thought that the entry fee was a bit steep so just had a cycle around and was intrigued by what goes on in this bar!!!

We got on to the ferry for a 4 hour ride across the lake and pretty much commandeered all the loungers at the bow. Katie made creative use of her magazine,
while Don,my roomie, looked very much the Commanding Officer while looking for landfall!
We all disembarked successfully and made it to the Michigan State line.
It was then a mad dash to get to the hotel, unload the luggage, get to the room and get organised for a 6.30 start and our last century ride of the tour (113 miles to be precise).

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 35 Fond Du Lac to Manitowoc

Just the 57 miles today so we loaded the van at 08:30 after breakfast at 07:30.  Last night was very entertaining as after our T shirt swap, I went back to the laundromat to dry my previously washed clothing to find that a death metal band or something similar was playing in the pool hall.  They were a bit loud but pretty good at what they did.
I would like to thank Tom Shaw from Utah, who has been with us between Sioux Falls and Manitowoc, for his kind donation for St Oswald's but despite that, I can take no responsibility for his lack of willpower which left him feeling a bit rough this morning!!!  He knew exactly what he was doing.
This is Tom on the right of the photo and he stuck with the big boys despite his brewer's yeast allergy.  The others are Skeeter on the left and Gerrard in the middle.   Impressive and thanks again Tom, you are a lovely guy!!!!!

It was pretty warm when we set off today and the team had done a great job of finding an alternative route to guide us out avoiding some roadworks. We had a flat start then climbed for about 5 miles and must have been in the religious belt as we passed through St Peter and Calvary.  I wasn't struck by lightning, surprisingly and continued to enjoy the Wisconsin countryside.  People here really take pride in their gardens and it was nice to see the neatly mowed lawns and garden art!

The Sag was in the town of Kiel where I couldn't see a canal but did find a bar where they know the best place to deal with the difficulties posed by everyday life!

I succumbed to a McDonalds which was beside the SAG and had an Angus burger with Swiss cheese and mushrooms (and a diet coke!!!!) and it was very very good.
I found a house where they had a novel way of using worn out jeans.
Check out the friendly dog at the back.  He was tied up but wagging his tail furiously.
We got into Manitowoc in good time and headed to Culver's, which is apparently famous in these here parts, for an ice cream.  Yours truly had a fudge pecan affair which was very nice indeed so between my McDonalds and that, I may not have been much in calorie debit by the end of the day.
Tomorrow is a rest day but involves a 4 hour ferry ride across Lake Michigan.

Today's Stats.
Mileage - 57
Climbing - 1350 feet (felt like more)
Time in Saddle - 4 hrs 35 mins
Average Speed - 12.6 mph
Cumulative Stat's For Week.
Mileage - 591
Climbing - 11900 feet.
Cumulative Stat's For Trip.
Mileage - 2580
Climbing - 79800 feet