Day 3 welcomes us with rain as we break camp (par for the course I suppose). The rain quits as we start off. Blessings!
We ride 25 miles to our first rest stop. A Methodist church is selling homemade goodies (Bless you, Methodists!). I eat two pieces of pie. Life is good.
The sky is getting dark. Uh oh.
We ride for Kalkaska hoping to make it before the rain starts. We don’t make it. We are engulfed by rain, thunder, and lightening. Not good, but there is no place to take shelter. By the time we straggle into the McDonald’s at Kalkaska we are soaked to the bone. I wring all of my clothes out in the bathroom, including about a cup worth from each of my Gore-Tex socks. The rain won’t stop and we have 60 miles to go. We have to ride.
We make it about 400 yards. Cherie has a flat. We seek shelter under the awning of a church (bless you little church). We install a new spare tire. We inflate it….it has a hole!?! Seriously? We install Cherie’s last spare. I overinflate it and it blows. Uh oh…
I try and patch the original tube. It doesn’t work. We send Sue back to McDonald’s to see if the traveling mechanic is there. He is! He sells Sue 3 tubes. We install one and off we go after about an hour and 3 tube changes. We get 5 miles down the road. Cherie flats again. We finally discover a tiny piece of rock that was causing the flats. We lose more time. We still have 55 miles to go. We are wet. We are not happy.
We ride over hill and dale before stopping in Bellaire for lunch. Just 30 miles to go…most of it hills. It is cloudy as we ride up and down, up and down, but it’s not so bad, at least it’s not hot. The Wall looms ahead, steep and foreboding.
We stop for a short break in East Jordan. Cherie and Sue elect to bypass The Wall, Dakota and I will have a go at it. The Wall is the steepest 600 meters of paved road in Michigan. The whole climb is about 1.5 miles with the brutally steep part at the very end. It’s so steep it’s hard to walk up. Seriously.
We climb and climb and finally round the bend to the last 600 meters. We go slower and slower. This is insane. Who put a road here? What were they thinking? A car zooms by us. We are probably going less than 3mph at the steepest part. Dakota tops out slightly ahead of me. We both make it! The Wall is conquered.
We ride the rest of the way into Boyne City. It’s been such a long day that our soaked cycling clothes are all dry now. We are tired. We are happy. We conquered The Wall.
93 miles; four flat tires; one nasty thunderstorm. Our hardest day is finished.