My Ride Around Lake Michigan

A few people have been curious about the tour. I got back last night and am in the process of typing up the journal I kept and adding pictures. I’m posting it all in a livejournal account I created but i’ll just copy the entries here as I write them up.

Day 1 (8/4/08) - Racine, WI. 37 miles.

Today was the first day of the tour. Allison and I had planned the night before to meet at 10am. We knew it was supposed to rain but it was ‘scattered’ so we thought we might do okay.

I awoke at 8am to my alarm and the sound of heavy rain and thunder that shook the house. I turned the alarm off and went back to sleep knowing we wouldn’t ride with the weather the way it was.

At 8:30 I got up and checked the weather. 90% chance of rain (no shit), 80%, 70%… nothing less than 40% all day. I called Allison to see what she wanted to do and we agreed that it didn’t make sense to ride in those conditions.

Fucking bummer. The first day of our 20 day ride started off shitty.

We were about to chalk it up as a lost day until I remembered we could take the train North, cheating a bit, but at least not wasting a whole day.

Allison liked the idea so, after two flats (screwed the metal ring down too far on the valve, then replaced that tube with one that already had a hole in it), I finally met her in time for the 11:48 train to Waukeegan.

The ride was uneventful, except for being approcahed by an older guy who told us about his ride around the Upper Peninsula.

Bikes on the train

The skies in Waukeegan were overcast but not rainy, and as we made our way North we missed most of the precipitation. Certainly not all, though, because we did get soaked at times.

Finding our way to Cliffisde Park – our campground – was easy enough, even though it was 37 miles away. The first few miles were not fun, as my body did not want to ride and I was feeling a lack of energy (despite the very nice, and very big, dinner prepared by Jenifer [my aunt, the night before]). As we continued, though, I got back into the swing of things and the miles went by faster.

The train dropped us off about 40 miles north of the city, and we rode another 37 – certainly farther than we would have made it by bike alone.

I’ve never been to a campground before, and didn’t really know what to expect, though I guess this is what I pictured. A lot of RVs, which, while really expensive, would be really nice to stay in on a night like tonight (raining and thunder).


Luckily, the skies were clear when we arrived and stayed that way all through setting up camp and making dinner (spaghetti with broccoli).

Dinner in the rain

Got to shower, which I really needed – especially after all the rain – and should hopefully stay dry.

Where I would be sleeping for 13 nights

If it’s still raining in the morning we’re going to wait it out. Riding in the rain is one thing. Gwetting ready in the rain is another.

I think this will be a dirty, exciting, exhausting, frustrating and ultimately enjoyable trip.

Day 2 (8/5/08) - Sheboygan, WI. 75.6 miles.

Fucking bugs. I found a spider’s nest with 2 spiders in my tent. Lots of mosquitos. Fucking eh.

We’re in Sheboygen (or 8 miles south, at Kohler-Andrae State Park). Right on the lake. The dumb (slow) blond girl at the front desk said she might have to give us a “group” camp spot instead of a bike spot. We didn’t understand that, since we’re on bikes ($40 vs. $15). We got one though.

Rode nearly80 miles (my computer is fucked) in head winds almost the whole way. I pulled the whole way. Can’t believe we rode that far. Tomorrow we’re going to Two Rivers ~48 miles. Easy day. Going to bed before there’s more bugs. Hot but no rain. Storm last night in Chicago. A little rain on us. Packed up wet stuff.

Hopefully no rain tomorrow.

Called Sam. Still miss her. Torn about what to do with my life - job, area, etc. Hope to find some answers on the trip, but doubtful.

I don’t remember what city this was

Our bikes

Interesting looking bridge

Interesting looking museum


Occasionally our riding looked like this

But it mostly looked like this

I looked like this

And this was our campsite for the second night

Day 3 (8/6/08) - Two Rivers, WI (kind of). 48.7 miles. 162 miles total.

Woke up dry today. I slept well last night. Got up when Allison got up (a little after 7) and was packed by 8. Stopped at the ranger station and bought a Smokey the Bear patch and asked for direction to breakfast on the way out. At at “Sunnyside Up & More” cafe where the menu was confusing, the attitude of the other patrons unwelcoming, and the fries American. The tables and chairs appeared to be from an old Chinese restaurant. Had oatmeal and a bagel with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard.

Riding was nice. I was real tired from yesterday and was developing a saddle sore. Tried chamois cream. I was okay by the end of the day, but I don’t know if that was why.

Stopped at a “farmer’s market” (about 4 booths) in Two Rivers that had nothing much. Bought a cucumber and zucchini though.

Bought a lot of food at the local Pick 'n Save and almost made it to our campsite before the rain. We set up camp in time to explore a bit (beach & lighthouse) but just made it back to dive into our tents during a really strong, though luckily relatively brief, rain.

Not as many bugs in my tent tonight. I tried to keep the front closed and sprayed around with Deet, which works well but will probably kill me.

The rain was much worse since we’re on sand, which turned to gritty mud and is now all over my tent. This tent is very light, and offers shelter, but it sucks in bad weather. I think I’m going to buy something bigger and better, even if it is heavier, in Green Bay. [this didn’t happen]

The weather, except for the rain, was nice. Cooler than yesterday and no real headwinds.

Camping is really not fun and this is making me appreciated houses a lot more. The cycling is okay so far though. Not sure if we can do 20 days – that’s a lot longer than I think either of us anticipated. I can handle the biking. Can I handle the camping?

The park

They served American fries, but French toast [edit: and “rasin” toast, apparently?]



Weird house we passed

Giant cow we passed

Ate lunch here

It was just up the street from a beer factory

It’s hard to see, but something was burning on the water

This shop chose an odd person to make its soups

Calm before the storm

The aforementioned lighthouse

really nice to see that frame getting used. how did it do for you?

Day 4 (8/7/08) - Green Bay, WI. 48 miles. 210 miles total.

Another day of brutal winds. Great weather (no rain, cool), but brutal winds. A lot of long, seemingly endless hills. And some really big ones, too. The roads weren’t so great, and Allison wac clearly tired even though I pulled the whole way, so it felt like a long day.

We stopped at some caves (a park) on the way, but that was kind of a bust. The next closest place to really find somewhere to stay past the city was at least about 16 miles, and Allison couldn’t have done that. So we got a motel room. $25 each, but last night was real rough for me (cold, uncomfortable, bugs (as usual), etc.), so this is a welcome change.

More bad Chinese buffet for dinner. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice and about 54 miles to Menominee.

Going to bed. In a bed.


Jesus barn

Cave park (we never found any entrances)

Burned and abandoned hotel

Home of the Packers

Our motel for the night

Worked out fine. I can’t compare it to any other frame in terms of its touring suitedness, but it worked. I scratched it a lot leaning it on things. It’s also been really useful having a bike with racks and bags in the city so far.

you’re my hero.

i really mean that.

This is awesome because you’re more or less paralleling the route I have planned, only we were planning on doing it for a week or so, not 20 days. Your input is invaluable.

We really just followed 'Round Lake Michigan: A Bicyclist’s Tour Guide, 2nd. Edition which, except for the last 3 days where he turned 140 miles into 180 and listed a 30 mile day as 60 (among other things), was really useful. It’s written to take you on a scenic tour around the lake, so instead of being the 850-900miles that I have heard of people riding it in ours was 1,050 miles.

so jealous!

awesome. i just got back from a mini tour in the opposite direction- chicago through indiana to bloomington (about 250 each way, i think). it was super fun, and would have been even more fun with a legit set up. the set up i ended up using should definitely land me in the jackass thread- steep ass cannondale cad3 frame ghetto ss’d because the cable guides under the bb shell mysteriously disapeared in shipping, seatpost rack that swung around everytime i turned, with my chrome bag (about 30 pounds over the rack’s stated limit) and a full sized pump strapped to it.

some pix

haha, bike tan pic ftw.

I have the same stuff sack and a pretty gross tan, too.

myspace pic ftl.

you’re just jealous

I am scared of that 2nd head looking at me.

i think that museum in the 2nd day is in milwaukee wisconsin, but i could be very very wrong…

it’s super cool if it is

yeah, i noticed it on the table in one of your pictures. i can’t believe i ever used a non-waterproof stuff sack, that thing saved my ass riding trains in a thunderstorm earlier this summer.

[quote=“snails”]i think that museum in the 2nd day is in milwaukee wisconsin, but i could be very very wrong…

it’s super cool if it is[/quote]
We rode through Milwaukee that day, and I’m pretty positive that’s where it was. Seemed like a neat down, but all we did was ride through along the waterfront.