Around the Mitten – Part 3

Port Huron, MI to Harbor Beach, MI – 63 Miles

We had to bundle up again today.  Our hotel had a sliding door onto a grassy area by the parking lot, so all we had to do was roll the bikes out and get the day started.

Our first few miles were traveling through quiet neighborhoods until we were able to join M-25.  After that our only job for the day was to follow M-25 to Harbor Beach.  This would be the first time we’d ever been to the “thumb” area of Michigan.

Today’s riding was mostly uneventful.  As the day went on, the temperature slowly warmed up.  We were able to take off a few layers along the way.  We were mostly riding in a crosswind.  Mike had checked the weather earlier and told me that late in the afternoon a front was going to move in.  It would change the wind direction to a headwind and that the temperatures would drop.

We found a nice roadside park for a lunch break.

Other than a blurry lighthouse photo, I didn’t take any other pictures today.  We were very focused on getting the miles behind us as as quickly as we could.

We didn’t beat the front.  About 15 miles from Harbor Beach, we stopped at a roadside park for a quick rest stop.  I went first and after, while I was standing by the bikes waiting for Mike, I felt a sudden distinct chill in the air.  When he came out, I said…I think our front is here!  Boy was it!  When we’d first stopped, the temperature was around 77 degrees. When we started riding again, we were facing a very stiff headwind and falling temperatures.  A few miles later, it was already down to 61 degrees.  We pulled over and ALL of the layers we’d taken off along the way went back on

About ten miles from the end, Laura passed us with a honk and a wave.  About five miles from the end, Mike’s E-battery died again and the temperature had dropped to the low-to-mid-50s.  At that point we were working hard, but only riding about 9-10 MPH thanks to the wind.  Those last five miles were pretty miserable.

We were never happier to get to a hotel and warm up.  Mike checked the forecast for the next day.  Early in the morning, the temperatures were going to be in the 40s with a wind chill in the 30s -thanks to a 20 mile hour wind, which would have been a headwind for us.  No thanks!  I announced an unscheduled rest day for the next day.

The next day, we checked out and moved our traveling show 18 miles away to Bad Axe (in the middle of the thumb), which worked well for trip logistics for the next couple of days.

After we got all the way to Bad Axe, the hotel at Harbor Beach called saying I’d left my biking shoes in the room.  Back to Harbor Beach to get them, which did not make me happy.

Harbor Beach, MI to Bay Port, MI -56 Miles

Today we needed to go back to Harbor Beach to pick up where we’d left off.  When we were half-way there I realized that I’d forgotten my bike computer in the hotel room.  Back to Bad Axe to retrieve it.

Once did that and got back to Harbor Beach, we unloaded, and got on the road, I wanted to take a picture of the lighthouse at Harbor Beach.  I was surprised to see it was pretty far out into Lake Huron on a jetty.

The ride today would take us around the top of the thumb. It was cold.  I had so many layers on that I felt like Randy in A Christmas Story after his mom got him ready to go outside.  The wind wasn’t too bad today, but it was still a headwind.  And it seemed like we couldn’t get a break because whenever our route changed directions, the wind changed too and we always had a headwind.

Our first rest stop was in Port Hope.

By lunchtime we were in Port Austin.  We don’t usually take the time to eat at a restaurant when we’re doing a ride like this, but it was the best option for lunch today.  We ate at The Bank, which it won’t surprise you to learn was originally the bank.

The old teller windows were just inside the entrance.  There was a small bar on the other side of it.

Lunch wasn’t that memorable, but I was happy to be able to order some hot chocolate to help warm me up!

Port Austin Marina

We’d rounded the tip of the thumb by then and were heading Southwest along Saginaw Bay toward our final stop at Bay Port.  We started seeing more little beachside parks.

We met Laura at a nice roadside park just outside of Bay Port.

We shuttled 23 miles back to our hotel in Bad Axe.  It is amazing to realize that we’d started our day by shuttling18 miles East to Harbor Beach only to end up 23 miles West of Bad Axe -after riding 56 miles!

At the hotel that night, we reviewed our original route plans and talked about revising our route.  The original route was to keep riding North along the shoreline of Lake Huron until Mackinaw City (the tip of the mitten) and then continuing South on the Lake Michigan side. With the weather and the logistics involved, we reconsidered. Our second option was to turn West from Bay City (the next town we were heading to) and cross the state to Ludington on the Lake Michigan side.  By doing that, we could actually make a smaller circle tour that ended where we’d begun.  .

We both liked the idea of completing a smaller circle rather than just stopping somewhere further North when we ran out of time. That would mean having to drive several hours back to where we were staying after the ride.  We also weren’t feeling terribly optimistic that we’d get warmer weather by going further North!  And, so I started scrambling to work out our new route.

Bay Port, MI to Bay City, MI -40 Miles

Although today wasn’t as many daily miles as we’d been doing, Bay City lined up as a great place to switch to our new route.  From there we’d turn West and start following US Bicycle Route 20. It is the other U.S. bike route in Michigan.  They have big plans for Route 20.  In the USA, it will eventually be marked all the way from the Oregon Coast to Marine City, Michigan. It enters Michigan at Ludington via the Badger Ferry across Lake Michigan.  At Marine City the route was supposed to cross into Canada via a ferry there and continue to the Atlantic Ocean through Canada. A few years ago an ice jam took the ferry out and it is not likely to be replaced, so I wonder how they’ll re-route the Canada part?

Laura shuttled us back to the park where she’d met us the day before and took an official departure picture:

My helmet barely fit because of the winter hat I had on!

Who knows why, but these are the only two pictures from our ride to Bay City.  It was a quick and uneventful day other than doing battle once again with our constant friend the headwind.  It was a very cold and gray day.  We expected it to rain at any point, but we got to the hotel before it did.

As we were entering the city limits of Bay City, I realized that my mind was singing:  S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!  Those who are old enough might remember the Bay City Rollers from the 70’s.  A fun trivia fact is that when the band, which is from Scotland, were trying to think up a band name they agreed to let a dart thrown at a world map decide.  The first dart landed on a spot that didn’t have any useful options.  The second dart landed on Bay City, Michigan….thus the Bay City Rollers.

Having shorter miles today gave us some extra time for an errand.  A couple of days ago after the second time Mike’s E-battery ran out of juice before we were done riding, he spent that evening in the hotel Googling to see if he could track down a booster battery.  We knew they existed, but didn’t know if any bike shops along our route might have one.  As luck would have it, a bike shop in Midland had a used one. Midland is 20 miles from Bay City.  That night we drove over to pick it up and found dinner while we were at it.

Bay City, MI to Clare, MI -54 Miles

My notes for today say… WIND, WIND, WIND.  It was also the coldest I’d been so far.  I didn’t choose the right layering.  I had felt OK standing in the hotel parking lot, but once we started riding I wanted to cry.  Eventually, it warmed up just enough for me to get a bit more comfortable, but it still wasn’t the nicest day.

Our first 20 miles or so were to Midland where we picked up the Pere Marquette Trail downtown.  Our next 30 miles would all be on the bike trail.

The trail head was quite nice. There was a large park at the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers.

Both of these bridges were within sight of each other.

Riding on trails has its pros and cons, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Pere Marquette.  It was quite wide and mostly smooth.  There were regular places to stop and rest.  It also passed through or next to several trail towns, which was helpful when looking for lunch.

This picture demonstrates what happens when I have to stop to take a picture. That yellow dot up ahead is Mike. That’s why I taught myself to take pictures on the go -but that only works if I don’t have tights on over my camera pocket!

We took our last break on the trail just before this tunnel.  There was a bench to one side and we were able to sit out of the wind for our break.

When the trail ended at Clare, we had to ride a few more miles through town to get to our hotel.  After we got cleaned up, we went to the downtown area to pick a place to eat.  We discovered the local donut shop first.


Funny enough, Cops & Doughnuts is actually owned by members of the city’s police department.  If a gas station or other location sells their doughnuts, the location becomes an official “precinct” for Cops & Doughnuts.

Since it was one of the first days in a while where it wasn’t too cold for ice-cream, we saved the doughnuts for tomorrow and stopped for a cone.  Then it was time to call it a night.





Categories: Around the Mitten -Part 3

3 replies

  1. Wow that is some cold, cold riding for sure. But the trails and such look very nice and well kept. Nice picture!

  2. I love the area you traveled through. Sad all the wind and cold hindered your ride and comfort. “Pure Michigan”!

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