As we've been trooping along (usually via bicycle) through Michigan, we've continued to see why exactly Michigan is just a fabulous place in bike world. This morning we woke up early to ride from our campsite in Holland State Park to the lighthouse in Grand Haven -- 44 miles round trip. Every single mile except the quarter mile to get out of the state park and the mile through Grand Haven to the beach was on a gorgeous bike trail.
Here is some proof that everything in Michigan is beautiful:
This is unheard of in most of the car-centered Midwest -- often simply biking to school is something of a suicide mission, with the highways to cross and the aggressive cars to avoid and the fact that on many roads (according to the truckers that regularly plow through Franklin anyway) there simply is no room for a bicycle. And then we have these little oases of bike-friendliness like Michigan and -- or so I've heard -- Minneapolis, Minnesota (one of the appeals of Macalester College).
I also suspect that Michigan natives are just ... friendly. As a whole. It's been kind of impossible to ride a bicycle without some passing cyclist waving enthusiastically or saying, "GREAT morning for a RIDE. Hope you have so much FUN!" It's totally rubbing off on me. I said good morning to every single person I saw until I began to wonder if it was even morning anymore.
I think part of it is that up here biking is such a big thing. It's like a little side culture. There were three bike stores in downtown Holland, and we of course visited every single one. These cyclists up here don't mess around: the owner of one shop called Velo City Cycles rode Paris-Roubaix this year, which is a super big deal. It's this ultra intense mega tough ride that is basically known for being horribly painful. They call it "The Hell of the North." But it's cool; it's kind of like a cycling badge of tough-guy-ness and being half insane. (His name is Brad White, by the way, and he rides for pro Team United Healthcare - Dad was being a fanboy, and meanwhile, Brad's wife, Jenny, was also super-cool, helping Mom think about some cycling specs.) I loved the culture of all things bike, so I bought a T-shirt to go represent back in Franklin.
So there's the current situation -- I'm all excited about biking culture and so ready to come back to Franklin wearing my bicycle T-shirt and showing off my meager tan (hoping to shake my albino status) and to continue on as one of the few, the proud, the cyclists of Franklin.
But. I wouldn't have been able to get this far in my training without all the encouragement of all of you, and so again, thank you so much for keeping up with me, my blog, and my adventure.
Keep on reading!