Another road trip 17: bad navigation, a steep hill and a low speed fall


My mistake sure cost us a hill

Though coming back down was a thrill

We’ve come back from the bend

To the bike tour’s end

And when stopped, we took a small spill.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. I spent the winter in Nome, Alaska, and I just finished assignments in rural Iowa and suburban Pennsylvania. After my brother-in-law’s funeral, my wife and I are doing a bicycle tour of northern Michigan.

I hadn’t pumped the tires in three days; when almost finished, Tim, the ride-along bike mechanic, gently let me know that harder inflation brings increased efficiency only on smooth surfaces.  Every other surface has a sweet spot.  The research has been done, and he gave me a reference.  Which I intend to read.

I suppose I could blame poor signage for missing the turnoff from M616 to M614.  We started uphill, I dropped the gears till we bottomed out and the grade continued to steepen.  Bethany got off to walk.  I would have walked, too but my ankles do poorly in cycling shoes, except when I cycle.

If you want to get to anyplace called Inspiration Point, you’ll have to use a lot of your own power.  We had a fleeting glimpse of that place as we rocketed away from the summit.  But we didn’t realize my bad navigation till the bottom, when Bethany spotted Sleeping Bear Dune on the other side of Glenn Lake.

I don’t mind asking for directions, and I don’t mind finding out my mistakes.  I do mind finding out that I have to pilot the tandem back up a horrid hill.

It added 9 miles onto our day, 4 of them painful.

We did OK for the rest of the day’s ride, till fatigue set in about the time we joined the TART (Traverse Area Recreational Trail).  At an intersection I called for right foot down, but still had my left foot clipped to the pedal.  The front wheel drifted off the pavement, and we tipped over onto the left side.  Between the two of us we probably lost more blood to the mosquitos the day before than to the scrapes.

At the hotel I dropped Bethany at the car and started the complicated business of returning the rented bike; at the shop I reclaimed our seats and my pedals.

At the end we indulged in the simple pleasures of showers, clean clothes, and a meal at a pie company.

We lunched with Tim (who gave me permission to write this).  A first-rate bicycle mechanic, he runs the campus bicycle shop for Michigan State University: www.bikes.msu.edu .  We share an enjoyment of vintage bicycles and a wonder for the creative evolution of multispeed cycles in the last 50 years.  Michigan State faces 1600 abandoned bicycles per year, and the shop refurbishes the best ones, about 10% of the total. They have to deal with machines dating back to the ‘50’s.  You can check his blog: https://msubikes.wordpress.com/

I talked about my days in the business, which took place during the transition from 3-piece cottered cranks to cotterless cranks, and how much I disliked dealing with cotter pins.

Tim and I both have Suntour shifters at the end of our handlebars and we prefer them to the index shifters which currently inhabit the same space as the brake levers.

Lunch over, we passed an adolescent street saxophonist playing Scott Joplin.  I fought the temptation to return with my soprano sax and my book of Barrett duets.  But I told Tim about wanting to play the streets with a sign that says, “Give your money to someone hungry or poor.”

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2 Responses to “Another road trip 17: bad navigation, a steep hill and a low speed fall”

  1. Charlie Says:

    Gee Wiz Doc. Your adventures have me thinking of a possible new enterprise. I wonder where a good training program for assembling and repairing bikes would be….Hummm

    • walkaboutdoc Says:

      I’d be surprised if there isn’t a youtube video on just about everything on a bike. There are also good books, the one I had the most respect for 40 year’s ago was Glenn’s.

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