A lot has happened since my last blog entry back in Marquette.
From Marquette I continued riding east toward Sault Ste Marie with the intention of crossing into Ontario. The ride was along bike paths, back roads, and highways. There have been obstacles along the way.
Four days ago, in Newberry, MI, I had another bout of flat tires. Six in one day. I wasn’t able to determine the cause for why these tires kept going flat. It was always the rear tire. The first of these flats occurred in Picture Rocks National Seashore. I had ridden five miles along a gravel road to arrive at a trailhead where I hiked five miles through pristine forest, arriving at Lake Superior – a lovely sand beach reminiscent of Popham Beach and Morse Mountain Beach (for those of you who have been there). After a quick swim, lunch and the hike back, I was ready to ride again. Flat tire. In this case, the flat was due to a staple that had punctured the tire.
That evening, another flat along the highway. I began to suspect that the patched tubes I was using may have been leaking around the patch. Arriving at Kingston Lake State Park for the night, I was determined to ensure that the inner tubes I was carrying (6 in all) were all holding air. They were. So, feeling confident, I set out eastbound again. This ride between Kingston Lake State Park and Newberry is where I had the six flats.
The Newberry bike shop is part bicycle shop, part motorcycle shop, part off-road vehicle shop. I bought three new tubes there, made sure that there were no sharpies in the rim or the tire, and, using one of these new tubes, I set off once again. After less than a mile, the tire was flat. Throwing up my hands in frustration, I was at a loss.
A woman (whom I never saw) witnessed this act of frustration and called her husband, telling him that there was someone on the side of the road who needed help. A truck arrived. (It was her husband, Marvin, a motorcyclist who has his motorcycle worked on by the same establishment where I had purchased the new tubes.) We loaded the bike in his truck and he brought me back to the shop where Marvin and one of the shop employees agreed that the rim seemed fine, the tire itself seemed fine, and perhaps the cause was low air pressure and too much weight on the rear end of the bike.
After another new tube with 80 psi pressure, i set off once again. This time I got a mile and a half until the next flat. I didn’t seem to be able to get out of Newberry. At this point, I considered buying a new rim. I begged a ride back to the “bike” shop. This time the owner and the person most experienced with “bicycles” looked things over, couldn’t find anything wrong with the rim, pulled out a heavy duty inner tube and a tougher tire, put it all back together, and told me that if this failed, he wouldn’t have any other way to help me.
It has been five days now with no flats. I am so grateful and more confident that the problem is solved. In addition, I mailed a 7+ pound package home. The woman postal clerk (a cyclist herself) quipped, “It’s like having a baby!”
Now onward to Sault Ste Marie and the Ontario border.
Four days before arriving at the border, I had stopped in at the Munising Michigan hospital for a PCR test, hoping that a negative test would get me into Canada, as I am unvaccinated. Now, I crossed the International Bridge across the Soo Locks and stepped into Canada, only to be sent back because the rule is “no vaccination, no entry.” Despite having a three-day-old negative PCR and despite the fact that most of my life these last 8-9 weeks has been spent outside – socially distant – I was a risk to the Canadian citizenry. Disappointed and unsure what to do next, I rode back into the US. Now what?!
From Sault Ste Marie south there is the old highway that was replaced by Interstate 75. This old highway has been designated as a bike path. It has wide shoulders, very little traffic, and no semis or RVs (they prefer the interstate). This bike path runs from Sault Ste Marie to the Mackinaw Bridge – a two day ride. Bikes are not allowed on the bridge, but for $15 (cars pay $4) I was driven across the bridge to Mackinaw City.
This brings me to yesterday. I have determined that I need to get to Southern Michigan and the Ohio border while avoiding Detroit. Fortunately, there are bike paths for at least part of the way, which is what I rode all day yesterday to Aloha, a campground on Mullett Lake. It is a “campground” in name only. It’s actually an “RV community” (very few tents). Because the site I was given had electric hookups for an RV, I was charged the rate ($46) for the right to pitch my tent there.
When I consider what happened at the border and what happened here at the campground, I am left to conclude that “rules are rules” and these rules leave no room for common sense. Take the border situation. It is well known that vaccinated does not mean COVID-free (witness Joe Biden’s recent infections in spite of being vaccinated and boostered). So is Canada unknowingly letting infected people across the border? In my case, I was shown to be COVID-free, but was declined entry because the “rule” is “no vaccine, no entry.” Here at Aloha Campground, despite the fact that I had no use for the electric hookup intended for an RV, I was charged as if I would use it. That’s the rule!
This is a long blog – sorry if it is too long, but I felt I had a lot to catch up on. ONWARD.