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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Suttons Bay to Traverse City

Until recently, I wasn’t much of a bicyclist.  I mean, I had a rad, pink freestyle bike when I was in junior high, and I rode it everywhere, but once I got my drivers license, I pretty much lost interest in biking.  When I was 30, I bought my first multi-speed bike, a standard mountain bike, that I used to commute to work.  It was stolen (this has a tendency to  happen in Chicago), so I bought a really cheap bike at Target.  Mercifully, that one was stolen rather quickly off of my porch.  So, I got a used bike at a pawn shop and bought a better lock.  It served me well until I moved to Ann Arbor, and decided to take up commuting by bike again.  Ann Arbor, as opposed to the Windy City, has hills, and I very quickly learned that my used bike was not going to work for me.  The main problem what that it was a small-sized frame, so that when I raised the seat to the proper height, I was leaning down on the handle bars at a rather acute angle.  So, I decided to finally buy a real bike, since I was committed to “exercise by commute.”  I bought a used, 2011 Fuji Absolute 3.0 hybrid road bike.  I love this bike.  I love to ride to and from work on this bike.  It’s great.

So, when I went up north (northern Michigan for the uninitiated) last week, my wife and daughter and I all brought our bikes.  We were staying on the Leelanau peninsula, which has a very nice trail (the Leelanau Trail), which goes from Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City. After riding on it a bit with my wife and daughter, and seeing how nice of a trail it is, I decided to attempt my first long-distance ride.  The trail had signs that stated it was 15.5 miles from Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City, and I figured I could handle that.  So, last Friday morning, I woke early and hit the trail. . .

_DSC3722My bike, ready for the trail ahead.

_DSC3727 One of the many farms on the trail.

_DSC3736The trail and a barn.

_DSC3739 A view of a horse farm.

_DSC3742 Little known fact: tractors are afraid of noisy bicyclists.

_DSC3744Stopped next to an old farm house.

_DSC3747A wooden cross near the ruins.

_DSC3749   I also passed many vineyards.  I can’t attest to the quality of the wine, though.  I mainly drink beer.

_DSC3751 A bench in the middle of nowhere.

_DSC3753Northern Michigan has some orchards, too.

_DSC3756  A well-paved trail.

_DSC3764 I loved the variety of landscapes the trail passed through.

_DSC3768Finally, I made it out to Grand Traverse Bay, right outside of Traverse City.

_DSC3774Traverse City itself has some stunning beauty.

_DSC3776These are boats.

_DSC3783The trail into Traverse City.

_DSC3795     I finally made it to downtown Traverse City!

_DSC3796 Time for some lunch, provided by Scalawag’s Whitefish & Chips.

_DSC3800 Back on the trail again.  One last evocative shot of the bay.

_DSC3813Wildflowers along the trail.

_DSC3816I actually had to stop for a non-photography-related reason here.  Going back was harder than getting there.

_DSC3823I’m don’t know how that tanning chair got there, but I had to walk across a ravine filled with prickly plants to set up this shot. I’m not sure it was worth it.

_DSC3834The view from a bridge.

_DSC3836I was very grateful to find this.  My water bottle was empty, and I was rather thirsty.

_DSC3837Nearly home now.  I’ve never been so happy to see a wastewater treatment plant.

_DSC3841I contributed $20.

_DSC3842I made it back!  My legs are fine, but damn, do my hands hurt from leaning on the handle bars all day. My hands! The fancy ergonomic grips do nothing! (read in the voice of Rainier Wolfcastle.)

_DSC3846Back to the car. 

I was pretty amazed that I didn’t feel too bad after my trip.  I was even more surprised to find that I traveled nearly 20 miles each way.  And, I have to say, this was pretty fun.  I’ve got to figure out how I can do this sort of thing more often.

Trail map