Tour de UP 2009 Ride Report

Well, I am back home in Chambana. I guess I’d better go ahead and take the time to make a ride report, else it might never get done :). Just a little warning – lots of pictures herein, and this is a long post, so get that cup of coffee ready…

This was a church trip, so we planned on doing devotionals, and one of the riders – Bob prepared verses for each day’s ride. Below I put a ride report, as well as the scripture associated with each day. In some ways, the scripture made a mantra that helped put our experience (and pain at times) in perspective. Hopefully you might enjoy them too.

Sunday – Day Zero

Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire. (Psalms 37:4-6)

We gathered at the Church at 7am to finalize packing of the vans and loading of the bikes. Pastor Herb showed up to study for the service we were regretfully going to miss, and he wished us well, prayed, and took our first group picture:

Tour de UP 2009 002(from left to right: Josh’s dad Puff, Josh, Barb, Bob, Jordan, me, and Sarah)

The drive was uneventful and very long (9 hours up there) and we set camp at the USFS Sylvania campgrounds. It was nice to be camping again, though it was a little cold. The forecast was for rain, and that held off (for awhile – see day 1!). We had a nice dinner out at the Redman Supper Club. It was funny because, the place was ‘fine dining’ – we had the special of the day, a nice Broasted Chicken with a salad. Apparently Broasted is a fancier way of saying fried. Admittedly though it was good, and there was too much food for everybody to eat!

Tour de UP 2009 006(The Redman Supper Club – home of Broasted Chicken)

We had a good fire that night, and spent time doing a devotional and singing around the fire. It was cold overnight, but thankfully it never rained. I was very excited to get on the road for my first touring ride!

Monday – Day One

And let us not grow weary in well-doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9)

We broke camp quickly, and had some hot breakfast of instant oatmeal (yum!). It was very cute, there was a family of chipmunks that was very, very curious. I got up before the others, and so I got a little one on one time with them. Once of them was very brave and came up to my toe several times! I tried to get a picture, but as you know chipmunks don’t stay still very long. This was the best I could manage:

Tour de UP 2009 008(Cute little guy huh?)

Once we packed up camp, we took off on our first leg. The leg was supposed to be 72 miles, and take us from about dead center in the UP to the south shore of Lake Superior and Union Bay Campground in Porcupine Mts. State Park. We stopped by the ranger station to check out, and discovered that we had actually reserved the wrong campground! I hope Josh got to recoup his money on that. Also, the church van’s exhaust sheared off just upstream of the muffler as it was leaving camp. For the rest of the week, it sounded like it had glasspacks! As a final insult, it started raining, and never stopped the rest of the day. We were miserable, wet, and very cold. It was just Josh, Bob, Sarah, and I riding in the rain. Sarah turned it in after about 20 miles I think (a supreme show of her intelligence), and I did my best to ride the entire day, but succumbed to the cold and wet after 45 miles despite my best efforts. I was actually very upset at this, but I knew that if I didn’t stop, I’d have to sit out the rest of the week. My runner’s knee was hurting extremely bad, I couldn’t feel any of my extremities except my feet, which were pounding in excruciating pain, and my quads were seriously cramping. I packed the bike on the SAG wagon and tried to warm up in my completely soaked kit. Bob and Josh kept on through it though:

Tour de UP 2009 016(Josh and Bob slugging it out in the cold and rain)

About 10 miles short of the end of day campsite, Josh got a flat. He ended up riding Puff’s comfort bike the last leg, it was still cold and raining no less! The route T-intersected with the lake, give a magnificent first encounter with Lake Superior:

(my first view of mighty Lake Superior – the surf was up due to the rain)

We went on to the camp for the night. It was still raining, breezy, and the temps hadn’t climbed out of the 40s (F). As soon as we arrived the riders made a beeline for the hot showers and thawed while Barb and the others went to talk to the ranger. We were supposed to be tent camping this night also, but thanks to a merciful God, and a nice ranger, we ended up in a Yurt. Man, was that nice. The Yurt was a little small, but it was big enough, and it had a wood stove, complete with dry wood! I had a fire going in 30 seconds, and the Yurt warmed quickly.

Tour de UP 2009 021(our Yurt for the night – talk about a blessing, we had never seen something so sweet!)

Tour de UP 2009 020(in no time we were nice and toasty, with our things drying by the stove – yum!)

We had scrumptious Sloppy Joes alla Jordan (i.e., using Mauls BBQ sauce – yum!) for dinner, and we all felt incredibly blessed to have landed in a yurt for the night. I think it really picked all of our spirits up after an incredibly rough start to the Tour. I was fighting an internal battle at this point. I had trained to do this ride…all of it, and I had already ‘given in’ in the first day. I was beating myself up about it, but at the same time realizing I had made the correct choice. Once I warmed up, and we had gotten some dinner, I felt a little better about it. I realize now in hindsight that ther main reasons I stopped short of the day’s full miles was because I was truly cold to the core, and I had not figured out my rhythm through the hills. All my training had been in the Illinois plains. I had erringly tried to employ the same riding styles as Bob and Josh, and ending up bombing out and cramping. I did get my legs shortly thereafter, and I know how I ride now for future tours. Needless to say, with the wood stove and Yurt, we all slept soundly and warm for the night. I should also mention that there was a breaker rock just outside of the yurt, so we where put to sleep by the roaring of waves against the rocks, it was load, but incredibly soothing at the same time. I will be returning to this campsite in my future!

Total Miles Ridden: 45.2

Tuesday – Day Two

You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not anxiosly look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. (Isaiah 41:9-10)

Woke up early again, but warmer and rested. My spirits picked up, and I was ready for a good ride. The rain had mostly stopped, though it was still cold. And, unfortunately my riding shoes were still soaking wet, despite being laid next to the very hot stove (they are heavy, leather, MTB shoes). This would prove to make things difficult for me in the days ride. Prior to leaving, Josh and I walked down to the lake for a view:

Tour de UP 2009 025Tour de UP 2009 024Tour de UP 2009 023(notice how much calmer the waves are!)

Again we set out for the days ride, a total of 62 miles. I was riding pretty well, but I soon got very cold again. There wasn’t any rain, but it was cloudy, and my feet began to pulse with numb pain again due to my soaked shoes. I rode for the first 25 miles and had to stop again to warm up. I was again frustrated with myself, and this time made the decision to keep going. I got back on the bike at mile 45 and finished out the ride. I’m glad I did, I needed the confidence boost, and the sun began to peek its head out towards the end of the day. The best part though was the descent into Baraga – 400 feet decline over 2-3 miles. Very nice riding there. And the view at the crest of the hill of the bay was glorious! We set camp at Baraga State Park, and had a great night of fellowship and food. Sarah made delicious Italian Beef with au jus and pepperoncinis, and we had watermelon for dessert.

Tour de UP 2009 037(Jordan sporting the watermelon look)

We also got to take a look at the tranquil Keweenaw Bay:

Tour de UP 2009 045Tour de UP 2009 048(this bottom portrait is my favorite shot of the whole trip)

Again we had a nice fire, sang, and did a devotional. This was a good night, and I even got my shoes dry, so I knew that wasn’t going to hinder me any longer. Also, the weather forecast was improving, and the rest of the week was going to be good weather wise.

Total Miles Ridden: 47.4

Wednesday – Day Three

And my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

I’ll admit first off, I was scared about this day’s riding. We had a nice decent into Baraga, problem is as they say, “what comes up must come down,” or more appropriately for this case, “what goes down, must go up.” Today’s ride included over 1,000 feet of climbing in the first 15 miles. In fact, there was no descending until after mile 20, so I was in trouble. At the same time, I was truly tired of feeling unable to cope with the pain/riding. This was it, I was going to make this entire day (74 miles) or quit. I had a feeling the day would turn out good for me on account of seeing perhaps the most beautiful sunrise I have ever experienced:

Tour de UP 2009 056(have you ever seen something so beautiful?)

So after breakfast (A light one this morning – no sense getting sick riding up the bluffs!) we set off. I was out to prove to myself I was capable of this. And guess what – I was! I made the climb beautifully, and at a pretty good pace to boot. I think I taught myself how to climb from this first leg. I started biking as a mountain biker, and there you climb hills in sort of a full sprint. Typically hills are short enough one can just push hard until making the summit. Not so with these long sustained climbs like this one. I had learned that lesson the hard way on Day One, when I tanked my quads and had to stop. I was determined to do this right. I sat down, and kept a good balance between cadence and power output from my legs. In all but the steepest ascents I kept the ratio at about 20-30 gear inches, generally kept speeds at about 10-12 mph. We had a scheduled rest stop at mile 22, basically at the end of the climb. I made it, and was ready for another 1,000 feet! I was on top of the world (no doubt due to the adrenaline rush), and I felt incredible. That moment was one of the best in my life. I had finally proved that I could muster the inner strength to make it through. It even felt better than when I crossed the finish line in the half marathon. In fact, I already have delusions to climb up Mt. Brinion Road and visit my grandparents :). The rest stop was also a nice one, with a couple of picturesque waterfalls:

Tour de UP 2009 066(Sarah ‘sunning’ on a rock)

Tour de UP 2009 067(beautiful waterfall at the end of a marked trail at the rest stop)

Jordan and Sarah, on advisement of my buddies over at stopped at the Hillside Cafe just outside of L’Anse. As promised, the cinnamon rolls were good, and ginormous (I can’t seem to find the pic now, but they were as large as your head, and weighed in at over a pound apiece!)!

The day got better as Jordan decided to get in some riding. It was nice to be able to ride with her, and I was very, very proud of her as well. She has always gotten frustrated with her ability on the bike, and especially in riding up hills. Well, she rode great, holding her pace with the group at 16-20mph, and she even scaled a very steep 1/2 mile hill like a pro. So nice!

Tour de UP 2009 070(my beautiful wife Jordan, Sarah, Bob and I on the road)

We finished the ride in Marquette and got a little ‘city’ riding in as it were. For the most part people were good to us (and had been the entire trip actually). There was one college student however that buzzed Jordan and I very close. I instinctively ride on Jordan’s left when behind her. I was wearing an ANSI yellow jersey, and was very visible. The driver in question buzzed us intentionally on Hwy 41 in town. He missed me literally by 1-2 inches, and Jordan by half a foot. I kept my anger in check, but I was a little peeved. The only purpose this guy had was endangering Jordan and I’s lives. Seriously people, grow up! The route slip had us turning, so I never got the chance to discuss our encounter with the guy, unfortunately. We set camp in the Tourist Park, and went to dinner at a nice little restaurant downtown called The Vierling. The special was fresh Lake Superior Whitefish, and Whitefish Chowder. It was awesome!

After dinner we took a drive to Presque Isle to look at the lighthouse. It was nice to walk out on the jeti and get a good look. My Achilles tendon was giving me problems, else I would have went along the rock jeti all the way to the actual light house. I did get some cool shots of it though:

Tour de UP 2009 090(Sarah and Josh went for it)

Tour de UP 2009 091(taken at the end of the concrete jeti)

We did another great devotional, and hit the sack. Day 4 was going to be a long one, so we needed all the rest we could get.

Total Miles Ridden: 74! (new PR)

Thursday – Day Four

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Tour de UP 2009 099(all our bikes)

Today’s ride was the longest of the week at 90 miles, plus a chance to make it a full century. We left Marquette early and set out. The first 50 miles were pretty much rolling hills as we came into Munising. The cool lake air led to thick fog for the entire first half. Things finally seemed to clear up a bit as we entered Munising for lunch. Again, we had to climb out of the bay and onto the plains above the town, so after after lunch we set out on another beg hill. once on the plains, we hit the real challenge. It was slightly uphill, with a headwind for the next 30-40 miles. This was the hardest part of the entire tour for me. I had to keep pedalling, there was no opportunities to coast at all, and as soon as you stopped pedalling to readjust, the wind and hill slowed you down in a hurry. I tried to keep up with Bob and Josh, but by mile 60 or so I was in real pain. In fact it was some of the worst pain I have had in my entire life. Now that it’s over, I feel comfortable letting you know I was in tears through miles 65-75. I was feeling like I had to stop, but I wouldn’t let myself give in. We had a rest stop at mile 75, and I was on the verge of quiting. I came in 2 minutes behind Bob and Josh, and they knew I was contemplating stopping. I told them I did not want to give up, and I asked if they would stand a longer break so I could recoup. I had to lay out on the sidewalk for a few minutes until the searing pain subsided a little bit, and then I went to the bathroom and applied a bit more Chamois butter. Jordan decided to ride in the last 15 or so miles, and I decided to keep going.

Jordan rode like a champ again, and I know I wouldn’t have made it without her. I tucked in behind her, and she pulled me all the way to the campsite. I saw a strength (inside and outside) in her I had never experience before in our seven and a half years together as a couple. It was a powerful moment for me, realizing she had this quite, magnificent strength within her. I really love this woman, and am incredibly blessed to have her.

We rode in together into the camp for the night, and I showed 90 miles on the clock. We took a bit of a break there to set up the tents, then all of us, including Puff took off to the Seney Wildlife Refuge to round out the full century day. Seney was a really cool place, and indeed there was lots of wildlife:

Tour de UP 2009 118(I pulled out of the ‘peleton’ for a nice shot of all the riders sans myself on the way to Seney WR)

Tour de UP 2009 119Tour de UP 2009 120Tour de UP 2009 124Tour de UP 2009 126(several nice pics of the Seney WR and the riders)

When we had finished and returned to camp, I was at 105 miles, but of course I took a nice pic of the landmark 100 mile point:

Tour de UP 2009 128(proof! – 11 hours overall, average speed 14.1 mph before we headed to Seney WR)

It was Bob and Barb’s 32nd wedding anniversary that night, so we surprised them with two hostess chocolate cupcakes and ‘match’ candles. It was another great night around the fire with smores, great fellowship, and a powerful devotional.

Total Miles Ridden: 105!!! (my current PR!)

Friday – Day Five

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Only test me: open your mouth wide and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10)

This would be our final day of riding. It was also the shortest day, coming in at 56 miles. Mainly this day went well and without a hitch. We still broke camp early because we had to drive 3 hours to Petoski, MI in the mainland to stay overnight. The ride itself went quickly, and was pretty easy. Josh and I ended up way out in front because Sarah had to stop and take out her contacts. The end of the ride was the Lower Falls at Taquamenon Falls SP, and once Josh and I were within 3 miles, we pushed hard the rest of the way in. It was a good moment pushing my body to its max as we entered the park – very satisfying. I could feel, even though my legs were fatigued from the week’s riding, I was (and am) considerable stronger.

Once Josh and I arrived, we set out the wet tents to dry in the sun and waited for everybody else. I was elated, we had finished the week strong, I had set several new PRs, and proved to myself I could push hard on my body, and deep inside I had the will to carry it out.

We took our victory picture (Sarah was cut out :/, that sux):

Tour de UP 2009 139(at the end of the weeks riding! Sarah is the shadow at left)

We packed up the bikes and tents, and then went for a shower in the campsite. Once showered, we took a walking tour of the Lower Falls. It was beautiful, but the mosquitoes were intense, I mean I wore a long sleeve shirt and still managed to easily get 30 or more bites in an hour! The lower falls were very nice, and I’m glad we toughed it out to walk down, but honestly we didn’t stay long – the mosquitoes were just too much.

Tour de UP 2009 142Tour de UP 2009 144Tour de UP 2009 148(at the Lower Falls – I’m amazed you can’t see the mosquitoes!)

Total Miles Ridden: 58

Total Miles for the entire trip: 329.4!!


One response to “Tour de UP 2009 Ride Report

  1. Incredible! What a fantastic ride you guys had. I loved the little chipmunk, and you and Jordan are gorgeous as usual. Oh, and your friends are too… can’t leave them out. 🙂



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