Monday, August 18, 2008

Longest Ride of the Year

My brother and nephew were supposed to go "camping" with my mom this past weekend in Traverse City, but he had to bail due to an injury he sustained at my cabin, so I offered to take his place. My mom and I like to hang out and we hadn't gone anywhere by ourselves in a while, so we made it a girls' weekend. We also thought we could get at least one ride in, and since we haven't ridden together hardly at all this summer, each of us preferring different types of riding, we thought it was a good opportunity. I use the term "camping" loosely because my mom has a camper, and this was the type of camping where you pull into a spot and plug in, along with having access to a refrigerator and a microwave. We camped at Traverse City State Park, which is right on the main thoroughfare. There is nothing remotely wilderness-like about it. It was truly what I call "camping lite." Nevertheless, we had a good time, and got in what for me was the longest bike ride of the season.

Last year at this time, I'd already done a century, as well as several 50 and 60 mile rides since I was training for DALMAC. This year, the most miles I've put on my bike has been during 6 Hours of Ithaca.

Saturday morning we packed up our lunch and left the park at about 9. I had read online that there was a trail called the "TART" running through Traverse City, and that you could connect to the Leelanau Trail, which would take you all the way up to Suttons Bay. We had a bit of trouble before we left, figuring out what bikes to take. The trail was paved in town and partially paved to Suttons Bay, but there was also a large dirt section. I had originally wanted to ride my cross bike, but Chris was sure that I would be way ahead of my mom, who planned to ride her hybrid, so I took my mountain bike. I also thought I might be able to squeeze in some trail time somewhere, so if I was only going to take one bike that was the one to take.

Early on in the ride, we were passed by several roadies, who looked disdainfully at our bikes and chose not to greet us, presumably judging us unworthy. I realized at that point my mom was having serious bike choice remorse and wanted to shout at them "my road bike is an Orbea!" (Yes, it's true, my mom finally has a better bike than me. A way better bike.) I started to think I had incorrect information on the status of the trail and I said as much, right before we got to the next crossing and it turned to two track. This part of the trail proved to be my favorite. I liked riding on dirt much better (funny how that's gotten to be the case) and the views of the farms, orchards and vineyards with grapevines growing up the hillsides were not to be missed. We took it leisurely, stopping for many photo opps, all the way to Suttons Bay.

This was the first time I've been to Suttons Bay and I had two initial observations. 1. For a town with a longish bike path dumping out into it, it is not bike-friendly. The first thing I saw when I got off the trail were signs everywhere, saying "no bikes or skateboards" or something to that effect. 2. It is not really pedestrian-friendly, either. There are crosswalks, but no stoplights, and traffic is cruising through town so fast and furious, it's next to impossible to cross the street.

Our initial plan was that we'd do a little shopping excursion in town, since they did have some cute shops, but I soon realized that was idiotic, since we were in bike clothes and didn't have any way to get anything we bought back with us. So we ate a quick lunch down by the water, stopped briefly for ice cream and headed back, planning to clean up and drive back in order to shop.

The return trip was a lot harder. Of course, I was a lot more tired and it seemed to have gotten a lot hotter, which it probably had. We eventually made it back, though, and ended up with 45 miles.

Some photos from the weekend:
Loading up the camper in my 'hood

As Captain Obvious, I observed that it takes a lot of gas to haul this thing.

A must visit, particularly if you like free samples. I actually observed some self-control in my purchases this time!

Our delicious Friday night "hobo" dinner

The makings for my favorite cocktail

Walking along the beach Friday evening

Mom at the beginning of our ride—still fresh. Notice how she's carrying all our crap.

The good stuff

Lovely, pastoral setting

One of the many vineyards in the area

More scenery

Lunch in Suttons Bay

Who you callin' a TART?

Brooms along the way for convenient trail maintenance

Spectacular market we stopped at on the return trip

Hiking at Hartwick Pines on the way home

Hartwick Pines

The lovely East Branch of the AuSable

The end

1 comment:

Ali B. said...

Ahhh.. I took the TART/Leelanau Trail tour a few weeks ago & meant to get a shot of the colorful brooms - I'm glad you photographed them! Did you see the enormous cow on the hill or the bomb-like shelter? Odd sites are great! Cherry Street Market is definitely the best around - good find!