Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Touring Series: Mutiny!

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995. 


We join the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" on its seventh day out from the start in Escanaba, Michigan.........

We awoke the next morning chilly and refreshed. Much discussion was had just before going to sleep the night before and now again in the morning about just how we were going to get to Canada from here and still get home in time for work on Monday morning. Various theories were put forth, but the two main thoughts were (A) we weren't going to make it, so let's just see where we end up, and (B) we were going as far as we could today, which would leave a short jaunt into Sault Ste. Marie where we would have Steve's girlfriend pick us up. I wasn't quite sure just what would happen, but "B" sounded feasible, and I had never been to Canada, so I was game for it. Steve was of the mind that we should just throttle back and cruise to wherever that day, and then have his gal pick us up in the morning. In the end, Troy's will would carry the day, as far as the decision on what to do for our ride.

Well, that meant one thing: Go like the wind with minimal stops. So the morning out of Escanaba was all a hurry, going out to hook up with a big four lane highway heading northwards around an inlet on the north shore. Then it was straight east for a piece. The weather was sunny, with a bit of a head wind and hurrying cumulus clouds overhead. The terrain became that of rolling hills with long, gradual approaches and long gradual descents. Coming out of town, I found myself chasing down Troy in second wheel with Steve lagging behind.

We had to regroup at the turn off onto the big highway. It was a great road in that the shoulder was about another lane wide. We could all ride abreast of each other and still not come close to being in traffic. Steve got caught up with us and with some encouragement from Troy, we all got going again. The mood was jovial now, even though it was pressing on us to get going. On each gradual climb, I found myself sticking to Troy's rear wheel and Steve would fall behind. Strange.....Steve was riding like I had been! Troy congratulated me on my riding and went drifting back to pull Steve back on. I just kept up the pace until finally Troy would get Steve drafted back on to our wheels.

This lasted until we got back in contact with the lake again just past the turn off to Isabella, which Troy reminded us was the name of a Hendrix tune. Hmm........okay! At any rate, we had to stop for a bit. It was around this point in the day that we all took note of how every R.V. had bicycles haphazardly attached to them. It was as if they were using Velcro to just slap the bicycles on the vehicle any which way they could. After a while Troy was getting anxious about the stop, so we took off again. Troy was also losing his patience with Steve's seemingly lackadaisical riding. Troy was pushing the pace as hard as he could, trying to make as many miles as we could get to reach the goal. We didn't get a whole lot further up the road before Steve mutinied. He had been pushed too far, too hard, and announced he was stopping to rest, whether we did or not, at the turnoff into a little resort we were approaching.

Steve pedaled up ahead with a burst of speed, launched his Schwinn into a ghost ride that took it into a grassy lawn, and belly flopped himself into the grass. Troy was dumbfounded. Wrought with anger and amazement at Steve's sudden rebellion, he just sat there on his bike with his mouth hanging open looking at me. I could only shrug my shoulders for the time being and wondered what would become of our plans to reach Canada now.

Well, Troy went into diplomatic mode. It was a prudent thing to do, seeing as how he needed to get Steve back on the bike to have a shot at making the goal he had set for us. With some agreement that we would throttle back the pace, Steve got back onto his bike and we rolled back onto the highway. It was a tense situation, and reminded me of Steven's Point, only without all the alcohol.

Position of Manistique, Michigan

We turned slightly northward now and the clouds were gathering in a hurry as we went. Troy looked up with dismay and cursed. Rain! It started out cold and wind driven, which caught us off guard, as we had enjoyed pleasant sunshine up to that point. Now we were rounding a corner on the outskirts of Manistique. Troy convinced us to keep on it till we got into town and then we could stop to find some shelter.

We got to a Hardees and pulled in. We were wet, and none of us were too keen on pushing hard in a cold, driving rain. It looked like it might only be a quick shower though, so hope was yet held out that we might get back on the road quickly, but precious time was slipping away!

This was a day I remembered for the stop mentioned in the story where we observed all those RV's with the crazy bike arrangements. I can still see that moment even today. Also, the moment where Steve mutinied is another standout moment from that day, for obvious reasons. But there was another moment I never did put in this story which bears mentioning, and which affected me for years afterward. You could say it changed my thinking about pollution/littering.

We had run hard up against the Lake, and there were tall stands of grass along the roadway separating us from the shoreline below and beyond us. We had stopped for a moment to gather up Steve, as I recall, and I took advantage to have a nutritional item as I waited. We were in a big hurry, so I ripped off the wrapper and tossed it into the tall grass, stuffed my face, and then heard a chorus of protest from both Steve and Troy.

That was a big no-no!

They insisted I wade into the tall grass and retrieve my waste and we weren't leaving until I did. I kind of put up a weak fight, but seeing their resolve, I dove in, searched a bit, and came out with the wrapper held high, as if I had a trophy. The guys were relieved and congratulated me on following "correct protocol" for bicycle touring and being a good steward of Earth.

I took that lesson to heart that day. Maybe we all could do with a reminder to keep the Earth clean. 


teamdarb said...

Fantastic tale. I personally love these types of recounts for the simplicity most take for granted. Each time I see a tourist with a drone I cringe. I don't need photos, just tell me in your own words. Paint the picture of the adventure for me, sheesh. Like always, Ted, you deliver great post.

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb- Thank you! It is a totally different time and era now. Maybe it is better in some ways, but I can't help but think we are cheating ourselves in many other ways.