The Long Way Up MI v2.0

During the over-winter months of 2019-2020, my riding buddies and I sat around and contemplated an adventure for the 2020 summer riding season.  Usually we were attending a seminar or workshop at our local cycle shop, enjoying free beverages and spurred by discussions of rides planned and enjoyed by others.  We put our heads together and settled on a ride around Lake Superior.  Earlier in 2019, Ulysses and I rode through some of the high points of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so we figured the ride around the northernmost of the Great Lakes would be a bigger treat.  It meant riding part of the trip in Canada, but we were all comfortable with that.   Everyone we talked to said it would be a  beautiful ride and not normally overly busy or crowded.   We even did a run to the Mackinaw Bridge in February to shake off the winter-induced cabin fever.

Then came Covid-19.  As luck would have it, I heard about the soon-to-be pandemic during a company meeting in Las Vegas, NV.  A big Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the hotel/casino I was staying at, was wrapping up the day I was checking in.  Of course, at that time it wasn’t fully understood how serious it was, or how quickly it was spreading.  There was hand sanitizer available, but otherwise, nothing.  In the coming weeks we would all find out how much stranger 2020 was going to get.   It quickly became clear, as the state of emergency was declared and executive orders unfolded, that no one was going anywhere and that we’d all be sitting at home for an as yet undetermined amount of time.

Using Bluejeans for web conferencing and corresponding by email, we decided that three of us would organize a ride that would feel like a long trip, but not really leave our home state of Michigan.  It sort of seemed redundant to the trip we’d taken in 2019, but the third member of our team pointed out a number of scenic areas and riding opportunities  we didn’t have time to make the previous year, or simply didn’t know about.   By the time we started hearing that some hotels and restaurants would be opening in the coming weeks, we had started to lay out a plan.

We decided to adopt the strategy of using two cities in the Upper Peninsula as  hubs for day trips in the area.  That way our bikes aren’t always loaded with all of our luggage, and we could concentrate on a particular thing we wanted to visit or do.  It also meant we didn’t have to pack every morning and unpack every evening.  It also meant we had an idea of where we could eat a morning and evening meal.   By the end of the trip we agreed that the strategy worked and that for adventures like this, where we are exploring a region or area.  In upcoming posts, I’ll go over the journey, the places we visited and what we learned along the way.  Needless to say it was an amazing opportunity to get out and enjoy the beauty that our home state of Michigan has to offer, as well as the hospitality of hotels and restaurants that are recovering in these challenging economic times.