Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

A whirlwind tour of the Upper Peninsula coupled with miles of, basically, nothing.

Day Three:

day3

A long, very long day.

After a quick breakfast in Newberry, and gearing up for rain, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Seashore. A little tip: Getting to this area will require you to ride on gravel roads. Now, as it hadn’t rained (much), the roads were okay. However, if you’re in a downpour, this might be a bit challenging. That said, it is well worth the effort and time.

On the way to the entrance to Pictured Rocks, we encountered what can only be described as a suicidal bird. I’m leading and up ahead, I see what appears to be a rock in the road. I move to the right a bit, signal to the others that there is something in the road, and, as I pass it, I see that it is a bird. Just sitting there, in the road. As the other two bikes pass, it doesn’t move. Strange little bird, hope you didn’t get flattened later in the day.

Then, it was the gravel road, until we reached a ranger station and the start of our tour of Pictured Rocks.

Got off the bikes, removed our rain gear (the day was turning out to be sunny and beautiful), and asked one of the rangers for a map of the seashore and the places we needed to stop and see. Off we went.

Day Three Best Roads:

day3-best-jpg

Leaving Newberry, we headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Words cannot do this park justice. You must see it to believe it. It is worth the time and effort to get there and run the road next to Lake Superior and to stop, often, to see the sights and take pictures. Here is an example, Miners Castle:

minerscastle

There is a trail that will take you up close and personal, which we walked. It’s worth the time for the views of the lake. Amazing location. I think we all fell in love with the Upper Peninsula during this run through Pictured Rocks.

Then we it was time to ride to Copper Harbor.  But first, a search for gas. I don’t think we saw a gas station until we reached Harvey, MI, 40+ miles from Miners Castle. Then, a quick lunch in Marquette, MI, as we followed Route 41 west and north. As we traveled north on Route 41, in the town of Hancock, we passed Quincy Mine. It’s a tourist spot and it looked very impressive from the road. All of us determined that the next time we pass through here, we would stop. But not today, we were on a mission to get to Copper Harbor and daylight was getting in short supply.

Somewhere along the route into Copper Harbor, I glanced over to the side of the road and swore that I saw a porcupine. I asked Doug and CJ, when we finally arrived in Copper Harbor, if they had seen it. “No,” was the consensus. Ah, well, I saw it.

The last 15 miles into Copper Harbor are amazing; great road surface, twisties, sweeping curves, altitude changes, this bit of road has it all. And, once you get there, you will be at the start of Route 41, which you can take all the way to Miami, Florida. Here’s my bike at the start of Route 41:

copperharbor2

And here are our bikes at the start of Route 41:

copperharbor

The best part of this, Doug rode his bike around the turnaround several times, scraping floorboards for most of it. Trust me, it was hilarious.

We took a quick tour of Copper Harbor, then headed south.

As I remembered seeing the porcupine, I was determined to point it out to my fellow travelers. Which I did, as it was in the same spot as when I first saw it.

And it was dead.

Today was also the day that I fell off of my bike. Stopped for gas in a (very) little town south of Copper Harbor. As I was dismounting, my right foot caught on my tank bag. I did an admirable job of not falling, until I thought I was going to recover, and then, ended up on the ground.

After they stopped laughing, CJ and Doug helped me up.

It was the only “accident” on the entire adventure. Damn tank bag.

The other highlight of this trip:

As I was leading, I was the one that determined the gas stops. We were riding US 141 south and east, to get to Iron Mountain, MI, for the night. At the junction of 141 and 28, there is a gas station. Thinking that we could make it into Crystal Falls, MI, I decided to keep riding.

That was a mistake.

Riding down 141, watching my mileage go up, I knew we weren’t going to make it. It was about that time when I saw a gas station sign. Pulling into the station, we were all commenting on how lucky we were to find this station.

But it had just closed.

The owner hadn’t left yet, and she powered up the pumps for us. It was a magical moment. And she told us that the next nearest station was only about 20 miles down the road. Oh, well. We were still very happy. This is also the station where Doug tried to leave without paying. CJ and I set him right.

Pulling out of the station, our lights caught the only deer we saw in the UP. Which was nice, but still kept us on high alert as we rode into Iron Mountain.

Iron Mountain wasn’t without its “eccentricities.” After checking into the hotel, we were given the name of place that was “open late.” It appears that most everything closes around 9PM, regardless of the day, in Iron Mountain. When we arrived at the sports bar, karaoke was going in full blast. Hard to hear in the place. And, as the three of us came in, in armored jackets and riding pants, several patrons at the bar took an immediate interest in us. After looking us over, the bartender told us that they stopped serving food only minutes before our entrance. And a bouncer appeared at the door, where he came from is anyone’s guess, because he wasn’t there when we entered.

Okay, we get the hint.

An open pizza shop it was to be for us. And it was good. And quiet.

Tomorrow, we continue riding south, for our date with a Lake Michigan ferry.

Total miles: 450

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