I couldn't have asked for a better last day of biking today. Unfortunately, after our double break day here in Petoskey I will be flying back to North Carolina to start preparing for my new job in Raleigh. Although I am a little sad to leave the trip (I'm sure I'll miss the freedom of the road when I'm working my 9 to 5) I am not disappointed that I will not be finishing with Evan and Brian. I have already biked across the country once and the real reason I came out here was to experience the day to day of bike touring, not for the bragging rights of completing another cross country bike ride. Petoskey felt like a fitting place to stop because it was a long term goal for us and we are staying with friends here who are generous enough to assist me in getting home. This has been planned for a while now, and I am really glad that I was able to enjoy such a great day of biking for my "last day".
We decided to sleep in a little bit this morning and woke up to beautiful weather in Mackinaw City, Michigan. We headed into town for breakfast at a restaurant that specializes in pancakes where we got some of the best pancakes of the trip (and I have had a lot over the course of the last few weeks). After we had our fill, we left town for the eastern shore of Lake Michigan which we would be riding all day as we headed south to Petoskey. Along the way we missed a turn and ended up riding 8 "bonus miles" down a gravel road and back again to our missed turn in the Michigan State Wilderness Park. It was a pretty ride, but having done some major miles over the last 3 days my legs were not happy about this little excursion.
After we were back on track we rode the "Tunnel of Trees" along the coast for the rest of the day. This stretch of State Road 119 is a gorgeous winding road through a dense forest. It was so much fun racing through the trees, ocassionally getting glimpses of the beautiful Lake Michigan. However, as the day went on we could all feel the hard work we had done in the past 3 days taking its toll on our bodies. By the end of the day, our leg muscles were burning from exhaustion and I could feel my body burning through calories like crazy. I was getting hungry enough to stop for a snack every hour or so. Brian had mentioned something about having to increase your caloric intake as your ramp up your milage like we had been doing, but I never really felt it's full effect until today.
We ended the day on the shores of Lake Michigan where we met our friend Alex as he was getting back from water skiing. I ceremoniously dipped my front tire in the lake, signifying that my trip was complete and then we all jumped in the water. I really could not have asked for a better day, and I know that these next two days of rest are extremely well earned after today. We have been pushing really hard to get to this point and have done a great job, I have no doubt that this ambitious attitude and great riding will continue for the rest of the trip!