We got back on our biking schedule today with a classic 6:30 wake up. Wes and the Broz’s were nice enough to get up with us to see us off, and Alex even made us a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and toasted English muffins. I felt a little strange getting back on my bike, for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, this was our first day riding without Wes. Wes has been an integral part of this trip-as the oldest member, he really looked out for us-and it definitely feels different to ride without him. Luckily, he has been grooming us for the past few weeks to prepare us to continue on by ourselves. Before we rolled out, we divided up some of his equipment: I took his electrical tape, Leatherman tool, chain lube, and aerobars, and Evan took his duct tape, water bottle, and functional pannier clips. We also have to pick up some of Wes’ daily responsibilities: searching for places to sleep, keeping us safe on the roads (“No sketchy riding!” is a favorite quote of his), and whining just enough to keep us from pushing our mileage too high.
Secondly, I hadn’t pedaled a single stroke in the previous 64 hours. This was by far the longest we’d gone without biking in the last six weeks. It felt like the part of The Odyssey when the hero Odysseus and his crew sail to Cape Malea and eat the lotus flower. The flower makes them fall into a blissful trance, lose track of their goal to sail home from Troy, and spend many days lounging around. We had fallen into our own blissful trance in Petoskey, and it was hard to leave behind, but once we were a few miles out of town, I felt like I was back in bike trip mode.
We rode 82 miles along US Bicycle Route 35, which is made up of bike trails and back roads that zig-zag along HW 31. The meandering of Route 35 adds some extra mileage and climbing, but it kept us away from traffic and made for safer and more pleasant biking. It rained for most of the day, but it was only a light drizzle-not enough to warrant a rain jacket.
In Traverse City, we found some wonderful Warm Showers hosts, Bob and Laura, who offered showers, laundry, and a place to sleep on their living room floor. We walked into downtown Traverse City, a beautiful area that is friendly to bikers and pedestrians, where the National Cherry Festival was going on. We sampled cherry jams, cherry chutneys, cherry salsa, cherry fudge, chocolate covered cherries, and pretty much anything else you could think of.
On our walk back to the house, some of Bob and Laura’s neighbors asked us about our matching Be Loud! Sophie shirts. They invited us inside and we talked with them about our ride and our fundraising efforts. It turns out that they are an avid biking family, and that one of their kids survived cancer as a teenager. They were very familiar with the particular dilemma faced by adolescents and young adults seeking cancer treatment in a system that divides patients into two categories, children and adults, neither one of which is appropriate for their needs. Our conversation was a powerful reminder to me of the importance of the work of Be Loud!.
We joined Bob and Laura, along with Laura’s cousin, for a wonderful home-cooked dinner. We sat around the table and enjoyed a lengthy conversation on topics that ranged from bike-touring to the 2020 election. These are some of my favorites moments of this trip, when we sit down for a meal with people who were previously strangers to us and end up feeling like a part of their family.