M.O.R.E. or less day 1
Commentary by Chuck in green and by Steve in yellow.
June 1, 2021
My last day of school with students was May 28, and the holiday weekend was packed with our normal family Memorial Day activities. I spent every free moment in the week before our trip loading Matt's Strava route files into Ride With GPS and then searching for and marking every point of interest for services (camping, hotels, bike shops, and food) that I could find. Then I did the same for the ACA route Chuck had found to get us to the ferry, the extra 77-mile route he built to connect the M.O.R.E. and ACA routes, and, while I was at it, connecting some bike trails that looked like a good substitute to the last half of that ACA route.
All this is to say that I didn't start packing until the night before our departure and didn't finish until early the next morning. I'd like to say that's not typical, but the only aberration is how productive I was in the lead-up to the trip. As it turned out, the only dropped ball was my failure to download a new basemap of Michigan and Eastern Wisconsin for my Garmin, and when I finally went to do that sometime after midnight on June 1 the website I normally use was only providing downloads of country maps. Out of time, I loaded the original (terrible) Garmin basemap and hoped for the best.
In contrast, I obsessed over the details of what I was packing and where I was packing it, and yet knew little or nothing about the details of our route. In hindsight, this was quite the rookie mistake, and this would become increasingly obvious as we rode deeper into the route.
Despite the lack of sleep, I was ready when the guys arrived at my house. We made quick work of loading my stuff into the adventure van, including a bag of things I still had to decide about. I was torn about what sleeping bag to take and where I was going to put the food I was bringing, but I felt sure I'd figure it out on the way or when I put the bags on my bike in Grand Rapids. (Along with "what could possibly go wrong?", "I felt sure" is a phrase that should always be read in tones of ominous foreshadowing.)
Chuck drove the whole way, and we only made a couple of stops. It felt like a pretty quick trip and was exciting to note each new state (I mean, it was only two, but it was exciting). We talked a little about our goals for the trip. The only one I remember is Chuck's desire to camp for 16 straight nights, and that's because my goal was to NOT camp for 16 straight nights.
I have a previous record of 15 straight nights camping, and threw the goal of 16 nights out during one of the drive conversations. It was not an actual goal, because I was sure I'd be ready for a roof when we hit the inevitable bad weather or swarming mosquitos.
Since I was in the back I could only hear about a third of the conversation, instead busying myself with games on my phone, facebook, and generally not figuring out where to put my bag of extra stuff. Once in Grand Rapids, we all had to prep our bikes to varying degrees. For me, that meant putting all of the bags on it. My back is still not 100%, and despite the doctor's assurance that I could return to normal activity as tolerated I'd decided that lifting a loaded bike onto Chuck's Kuat rack was asking for trouble.
|Chuck mapping out our way to the campground.|
It should come as no surprise to hear that I ran out of room before finding a place for most of my "figure it out later" pile. Instead of pare down my load, I threw the things into a string bag I'd brought "just in case" and decided it would be easier to get these last stragglers packed the next morning when all of my bags were open.
Eventually we were all ready. After one last bathroom stop for us all in Steve's coworker's house -- I tried and failed to connect with his 5 year-old daughter, the only elementary-aged girl of the trip to resist my magnetic charm, while waiting for the guys -- we set off on our first leg. Chuck had found Wabasis Lake Campground, and while the 9 miles we had to ride off-route to reach it wasn't ideal, it seemed like the best option within the range we wanted to ride.
With a 7 hour drive and the loss of an hour due to daylight savings time, we knew we didn't want a long ride on our first day. Wabasis Lake, a 27-mile ride from our start, was perfectly situated. We followed surprisingly bike-friendly roads out of Grand Rapids to connect with the White Pine bike trail. I quickly realized that my base map was virtually worthless; indeed, I spent the entire trip navigating by disembodied purple line in a field of blank screen. Thankfully Chuck and Steve both had good base maps, and I did have all of the routes downloaded to my phone.
|Leaving Grand Rapids|
We rode the bike trail until it intersected with the M.O.R.E. course in Rockford, which is a super cute town I'd have liked to see more of, sadly passing a brewery (I don't even like beer, but the food smelled good and the atmosphere was great) in order to get to our campground before dark. We stopped instead at Jimmy John's for dinner and a nearby gas station for a quick resupply (in my case this meant a mocha to have at breakfast), riding backwards on the course a bit towards the lake.
|It was fun to see this sign near the campground knowing that we'd be reaching Mackinac Island at some point in the trip.|
Most campground stops were a little stressful for me, and this first one was no exception. Many campground limit how many tents can be on a site, and since we each had our own small tent that limit was always a concern. Worst comes to worst we could always pay for two sites, but before long you might as well be staying in a hotel. I know Chuck probably would have been just as happy to post up in the woods, but I'm a bit of a princess about preferring flush toilets and showers when possible.
Dispersed camping is my jam!
|First lakeside campsite of the trip! We were lulled to sleep by the music and laughter coming from the disc golf team next door.|
Wabasis Lake indeed had a two-tent limit, but since we had small tents and were only staying for one night they said it was no problem. We set up right next to the water, showered, and were tucked in our tents before long. It had been a great first day, and tomorrow we would hit the MORE route for real.