Shortcuts

Preparation - The Bikes - Riding - Waypoints - Weather - Camping - Food - Personal

Preparation


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Roughly the final gear audit. A few last minute revisions were made. Information on some notable gear items here.


My Machine


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I was riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame, with 29" wheels, Paul Component V-Brakes, Brooks Saddle & a Tubus Rack with Ortleib panniers.

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Nate installed a dynamo hub for the trek, providing a super-reliable source of energy for his phone and accessories and allowing him to track via GPS for the entire route.


Riding


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Beautiful rides.

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We tried to avoid packed gravel trails, but sometimes it was the only option.

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Only blew one tire the entire trip, our first day of riding, after hitting some gravel at high speeds.

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At the end of a long day of riding and getting hailed on, Google Maps unfortunately led us on a dead-end goose chase into the heart of a giant quarry, forcing us to backtrack 6 miles, and book it for another 10 to arrive at our campsite as light had almost faded.

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Crossed from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City via ferry - bikes aren't allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

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Helmet & handlebar mirrors were crucial for sections of narrow shoulder. Only felt obliged to get off the road for busy traffic a few times usually when semi's were passing each other and had no room to spare.

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Very impressed by Michigan's trail/route system. Plenty of trails or bike friendly highway routes connecting most cities.

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The terrain would get hilly for the few stretches of route farther away from the shore - the majority of our ride hugged the lakeshore, and fortunately was not too affected by wind off the lake.

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Carried my Anker 14W Solar Panels along to keep my GoPro, flipcam and cell phone charged. Small bungee cords strapped the panels to one side of my panniers, depending on our direction and time of day.

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Michigan gets all the great sunsets.

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Trails across Indiana were surprisingly great - we expected the Gary/Hammond region to be rough going.

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Clear skies pulling into Chicago, stopping along the beach to jump in.


Notable Waypoints


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Buckingham Fountain in Chicago was the rough start/finish line for the trip.

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The northernmost point of Lake Michigan, just a few miles east of Naubinway, MI, was a satisfying milestone. (Approx 400 miles along the route from Chicago)


Weather


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About to get hailed on.

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Sought shelter from an intense storm in the garage of a gracious local.

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Only spent one day riding through moderate rain. Waterproof gear and quick-dry clothes allowed us to get comfortable quickly after it had passed over.


Camping


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We hammock camped the whole trip, besides 3 nights in hotels along stretches where parks weren't available.

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A rain-fly above the hammock is reliable protection from rain, and gear can be hung off the ground, from the straps. The built-in bug net was surprisingly only really crucial our last night on the road, at the Indiana State Dunes.

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Inside the hammock: Air-core for insulation, cotton sleeping bag liner & sleeping bag. Slept like a rock. Note the Black Diamond headlamp hanging on the side - one of my top 10 gear items, super useful in a variety of situations.

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Most campsites we grabbed were right along the water.


Food


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A couple Smart Water 1L bottles fit perfectly on my frame, and were durable enough to last the whole trip

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There were plenty of tap refill opportunities along the way, but each of us had water filters for the stretches where lake/river refills were necessary.

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A backpacking meal that's easy to transport & prepare: Tuna pack, Uncle Ben's Ready-Rice & Cheese.

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A small pot, a couple sierra cups and an MSR backpacking stove are compact and work well for preparing food for a couple people.

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Passed tons of wild apple trees along our route through the Upper Peninsula.

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The general store in Bliss, MI saved us from going hungry one morning, on our way south from Wilderness State Park through very sparsely populated country.

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Plenty of produce markets along the route in Michigan - the majority of our route north of Holland, MI was alongside cherry, blueberry, peach or apple orchards.

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We estimated our daily calorie expenditures to be somewhere around 6-8k - I've never eaten more food than during this trip. Stops at local ice cream spots & fish fries were frequently worked into our route.


Personal


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Cleaned off in the lake or camp showers with Dr. Bronners biodegradable soap - this stuff is magic.

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Nate's Achilles tendons started to give him trouble 6-7 days in, but a couple days of lower mileage kept them from exploding.

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My handlebars and gloves didn't have enough padding - parts of my hands are still recovering from nerve damage 4 weeks later...