Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st July – Stages 70 & 71
Saturday 30th July – Ludington to Muskegon (Stage 70).
We were packed & on our way by 8.45am, so after a final goodbye to the SS Badger, we set off on the first of three days exploring the West Coast shoreline of Lake Michigan. Almost as soon as we crossed the small inlet for Pere Marquette Lake, we had a short, sharp climb on to the sandy cliffs above Ludington. We saw what looked like grouse in the nearby Phillips Cemetery as we were making our way to the scenic overview for our first view of Lake Michigan, near the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant.
The hydroelectric power plant & reservoir were built in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s & the licence to operate the plant has just been extended to 2069. The reservoir above the plant is 2.5 miles long, by 1 mile wide, by 110 feet deep & it can hold 27 billion gallons of water – if you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know this reduces the height of Lake Michigan by less than 1/2 inch!
At peak performance, the facility can produce sufficient electricity to support a community of 1.65 million people.
After cresting Summit Park, we enjoyed the short, twisting descent to Bass Lake (it’s connected to Lake Michigan via a small outlet), where we saw water skiers for the 2nd time in 4 days – these ones were slightly less skilled than those we saw on Wednesday night. While some parts of the shoreline are covered in sandy beaches, other sections were set up as picnic or barbecue areas, with spaces for boats to dock.
Just on the outskirts of Pentwater, we passed the Veterans Memorial where an Abrams M60 tank was on display. Pentwater is a cosmopolitan town that caters to the many tourists who flock to Lake Michigan in the summer months. We were on a tight schedule, so after stopping to take some photos we continued to make our way around Lake Pentwater (which also has an outlet onto Lake Michigan).
Leaving Pentwater behind, we took a quiet side road through the woods. We were on Cycle Route 35, 500 miles of which run through Michigan from Sault Ste Marie in Canada to New Buffalo in Indiana. We reached the small town of Hart at the 26 mile point & found The Bakery On The Corner, where we stopped for coffee & a cranberry muffin – tasty!
I was really looking forward to the next section as we would be following the routes of old railroad lines on purpose built bike paths. First up was the Hart-Montague Bike Trail State Park, Michigan’s first linear State Park. As the name suggests, the 22 mile trail starts in Hart & ends in Montague & it was one of the first Rails to Trails projects in Michigan.
Even though we were riding it on a Saturday morning, we hardly saw anyone on it until we reached Montague. The White Lake Pub Pedal is an annual event to raise awareness of the many bars & restaurants in the White Lake area & also raise funds for local causes. This year they were raising money for the White Lake Youth Theatre – as you can see from the photo below, the event was very well supported. We saw hundreds of people in Pub Pedal jerseys!
After crossing the White Lake & passing the Caboose Museum (the last car of a freight train, for the use of the train crew) we joined the White Lake Pathway for 3.2 miles as we crossed the town of Whitehall.
As the White Lake Pathway ended, so the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail began. The 11.5 mile trail follows an old Chesapeake & Ohio railroad route from Whitehall to North Muskegon & along the way we passed Michigan’s Adventure Park which has a wooden roller, the Shivering Timbers. Enjoy the footage below!
There was one small section of gravel which delivered us back to the road network about 5 miles from our motel in Muskegon. This final 5 miles was possibly the roughest tarmac we’ve experienced on our adventure to date. There were more potholes than road surface! It had been another epic day in the saddle & we’re hoping to see more of Lake Michigan tomorrow.
Stage Stats – 72 miles, 1,539 feet of climbing. The majority of the day was spent on cycling specific trails & paths.
Sunday 31st July – Muskegon to South Haven (Stage 71).
We had another long day in the saddle planned, so we were up & on our way just aver 9am again. Within 10 minutes we had our first views of water – Mona Lake is another of the many inlets around Lake Michigan & exclusive local communities have sprung up on them all. Lake Michigan is known as the USA’s Third Coastline & on what is only our 2nd morning of exploring, it’s easy to see why.
If you look carefully at the 4th photo, you may be able to think of your own witty caption, along the lines of “Man with….”
In between Lake Harbor Park & PJ Hofmeister State Park we were clearly in an area of town inhabited by “The Haves”. The properties were immaculate with perfectly manicured lawns & with highly prized & much sought after access to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
We took a right turn that took us through the Ferrysburg Nature Reserve & just after we left it we encountered some roadworks, so had to slow down. At that same moment, 5 wild turkeys walked out of a nearby garden & proceeded to cross the road in front of us – I’m so glad I got some photos, as it was a surreal moment!
Continuing on our way, we reached Grand Haven, which is renowned for its soft-sand beaches, picturesque lighthouse & musical fountain with a synchronised light show. Every year Grand Haven hosts “Coast Guard City, USA”, which honours the men & women of the US Coast Guard who serve & protect the citizens of West Michigan. Most of the residents appear to get involved, based on the number of houses that were displaying posters, banners & flags.
As we headed out of town, we caught up with & overtook a lone cyclist. As we passed him, he picked up his pace & slotted in on the back of us – our first chain-gang of our adventure! He asked us about our trip & said he was out for a short ride that would finish when he got to Holland – this was on our route too, so he stayed on our back wheel for about 15 minutes or so as we chatted.
It felt as if we had headed inland, as we hadn’t seen the shoreline of the lake for the best part of 10 miles, but as we reached Beechwood & Holland, Lake Macatawa (another small inlet of Lake Michigan) came into view.
I had been looking forward to Holland, as I’d seen a possible coffee stop that I wanted to check out. Bowerman’s on 8th specialises in blueberries (the Bowerman family own a blueberry farm & they produce a wide range of blueberry based drinks
I engaged fully in the blueberry experience – blueberry & lemon meringue pie (best sweet cake / pie / pastry of the trip), a triple blueberry cheesecake (2nd best cake / pie / pastry of the trip) & an iced raspberry mocha (which was also delicious!). Sean had a blueberry latte & he was equally delighted with his choice too.
Reverend Dr Alberius C Van Raalie founded the city of Holland when he brought a group of fellow immigrants from the Netherlands in 1847. The plaque which gave me this information was unveiled on the 150th anniversary of the city being incorporated, by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.
It was clear that Lake Macatawa was an exclusive area to live in. We caught a few glimpses of the properties & one of the estates was accessible, so I poked my nose in for a look around. Each house had a dock allocated in the private marina – I was tempted to ask for a trip on a boat, but didn’t think they would be as approachable of my friends at The Wagon Wheel who took me out on Oakwood Lake!!!
Sand Castle View estate had one of the best follies I’ve seen, so I’ve included that here too – there isn’t a story, I just liked the photo.
If we were in any doubt about the money that lives here, in the space of 5 minutes only 3 cars passed us – 1 Ferrari & 2 Porsches. Next up was the small beachfront resort of Saugatuck, with its bars & restaurants that overlooked Kalamazoo Lake. Boats of all shapes & sizes were in evidence, from the eye-wateringly expensive boats staffed by a crew, to the one & two seaters. All budgets & tastes were there.
In order to reach our next piece of paradise, we needed to ride on a slightly busier road, but as you can see, it’s not exactly rush-hour! It’s a sign of how fortunate we’ve been to ride on deserted roads that I even mention this. We had one final view of Lake Michigan & families enjoying their Sunday afternoons, before heading inland slightly for the remainder of the ride.
As we approached the town of Glenn we took the decision to ignore the Detour signs & the price of that particular decision was to ride on a surface that was similar to when the ironworks have been exposed in the UK. My fault, I chose to take the direct route at the end of a tiring day!
As you can see though, it didn’t dampen our spirits, as we were only a few miles from our Motel. Once we’d checked-in & completed our laundry, we headed out to toast our time in Michigan, as tomorrow we head to our next State. We also tucked in to a Rib Dinner special each to replenish our energy, although I’m confident that once again we had a day where we expended more than we ate!
Stage Stats – 74 miles, 1,450 feet of climbing. A day of exceptional pies & cakes at Bowerman’s on 8th!