Our ferry across Lake Michigan wouldn’t leave until noon so we had the luxury of sleeping in. The three of us had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, because there didn’t seem to be any other eateries nearby. It was not a very impressive breakfast. We then wandered around downtown Muskegon, which seemed to be in the midst of some much-needed urban renewal . Much to Marie’s delight we found a little deli with local clean food and got lunch for our ferry ride. We then went back to the hotel to collect our gear. Marie drove the car to the ferry terminal, we biked over and waited to board.
The Lake Express Ferry is a hi-speed catamaran-style ferry, quite a contrast to the six car Sombra fairy we had used to enter Michigan. Nate was able to update the blog while we waited for the ferry to leave the terminal. We lashed our bikes to the wall on the auto deck and went up on deck to watch the departure from Muskegon Harbor. The boat moved leisurely across the harbor, and through the canal, past some marine museum displays. Once we reached open water the speed increased dramatically, such that the wind on deck was difficult to stand around in.
After several hours, the Milwaukee skyline came up over the horizon. After disembarking, we said goodbye to Marie, who was driving to her mother’s house where we would meet up again later in the day. As ‘purists’, we continued to carry our own gear even though the car was going where we were going. It was now almost 3 o’clock, and we had something like 75 miles to ride. Fortunately, we were on the south side of Milwaukee, so leaving the city was fairly straightforward.
We followed recreational-type bike paths south along the lake shore as far as we could. We stopped for hot dogs at a soapbox derby competition and watched the kids coasting in their high-tech cars down a long bikepath ramp.
We did not have good maps of Wisconsin and Illinois and spent some time meandering south on roads looking for the bike path which we knew came up from Evanston. We found the bike route only to find in one spot that it had been interrupted by the removal of a railroad grade crossing. After struggling over five sets of tracks we found the bike path quickly turned to gravel. So we abandoned that option and headed back to the highways.
We crossed into Illinois and had a quick pre-dinner at a convenience store. We had to be sure not to ruin our appetites (what are the chances of that?) because grandmother was preparing a celebratory dinner for us.
The road through Winthrop Harbor and Zion was hideous. We thought we had left the worst roads of the trip behind in Michigan, but Illinois proved it was up to the challenge. To their credit, most of the problems were the result of ongoing construction. On one section, we had one narrow rough lane bounded by Jersey barriers on both sides. Much to the annoyance of the drivers stuck behind us, we rode right down the middle of the lane to prevent them from squeezing us up against the Jersey barriers. We rode through Kenosha, where we were able to follow a trolley car through the streets on their new trolley system.
From there we were able to find the Robert McClory bikepath. This path followed the old North Shore Line electric interurban railroad, and we knew it would bring us within a mile of grandmother’s house. Initially this was a dirt surface path, but soon turned to well-maintained pavement. We rode on into the gathering darkness with our blinkies on.
We turned off the bike path and down residential streets in the darkness to grandmother’s house, where we were greeted by grandmother, Marie, aunt, uncle and cousins, complete with welcoming banners and a finish line ribbon.
A fine dinner followed. We still had 20 miles to go, but that would wait until Monday. Sunday we would relax and get Nate re-packed for his last 20 miles.
Avg Spd: 14.9
Mechanicals: 1 (Nate broke a spoke in the last few miles)
Serious cyclist: 0
Minutes Dad spent thinking about work: 0
States we biked in today: 3