Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A few words from Kris

After getting some much needed sleep, I would like to say a few things having completed 5500 miles by bicycle:

Thank you to all of our supporters and fans, we could have never done it without you all, you kept us going when we were ready to give up. 

Thank you to all of our donors and sponsors who believed in us before we even started this adventure. 

Thank you to everyone who helped us along the way and offered us their homes and friendship. We will never forget what you did!

And finally, a big thank you to everyone who came down to the Brewhouse or biked us there on Sunday. 

It was a very emotional time for us and you all made us feel so special by taking time out of your day to welcome us home! 

We will never forget that moment and the people we shared it with.

Thank you so much for everything and stay tuned to our progress on the video after we get our lives back on track.

Last 2 days!

 Day 96 – Little Sand Bay to Wisconsin Point ~ 73 miles

Well after the fish fry last night we ended up going out to Wisconsin's northernmost bar called the Gil-Net-Tug. It was karaoke night! We didn't sing, but Lane sang quite the rendition of CCR's “Have you ever seen the rain”. After the bar we went back to Lane's place to have a beach fire. It was going really well until it started to pour. We ran up to the house and hung out listening to music for a bit longer until we went to bed.

We woke up this morning at about 10...late as usual. We at quickly and packed up our things. Lane and two of his room mates decided to ride a ways with us. We all rode together for ways and then said our goodbyes and parted ways. The shoulder on the section of highway 13 between Little Sand Bay and Port Wing kind of sucks. We stopped in Port Wing for lunch and then continued on. We are exhausted today and when we saw the sign for Superior that said 45 more miles it was really painful.

We slowly pushed on. Somewhere along highway 13 at around 3 or 4 we were passed by a friend named Eric. Kris and Zach both went to school with him. He was headed back from Bayfield and saw us as he passed. He pulled over and we talked for a bit. We hope to see him again soon.

We finally reached highway 53 that heads into Superior. It is a separated highway and bikes are not supposed to be on it, but since we only had to be on it for about a mile we decided to go for it. Went off without hitch. We biked the last mile or so out onto Wisconsin Point and pulled into the parking lot to wait for Bre and Mona to come. Our editor Jay and his girlfriend Paris were waiting in the parking lot for us as well. Once Bre and Mona arrived we at the awesome pizza from the Thirsty Pagan in Superior and then went into town to pick up some water, beer, and snacks for the night.

We got back to the point and set up our camp and then started a fire. It was starting to look like it was going to rain. We could see storm clouds out over the lake dropping rain. We didn't get hit by the rain, but once we had our tents set up the wind got really vicious and blew over Zach and Bre's tent and sent the tent stakes scattering. They were able to get it set back up eventually, but the wind never really quit all night.

We spent the rest of the night around the fire with a few of our friends that came out to join us. It was a really nice way to spend our last night of the trip. We would have stayed up longer, but we had to finish tomorrow and we were exhausted.

It just so happens that someone called us in for camping on the point, no camping allowed, and a cop came out to talk to us at 2:30 in the morning. He said he didn't care that we were there, but that we needed to pick up our things and be out of there in the morning.

Tomorrow we are headed to the finish line in Duluth. Hard to believe. It is mixed emotions.

Day 97 – Wisconsin Point to Duluth ~ 18 miles (Last day)

We woke up sometime around 8:30 this morning and hung out until it was time to leave. Jay came back out in the morning to get our last morning on film and we spent some time talking to the camera and packing up. Kris and Zach hugged it out before we mounted our bikes for the last time of the trip.

We headed into Superior around 10 or so and stopped at Subway (of course) to get some food. After eating we headed toward the Bong bridge. It is the only bridge that allows bikes to cross the St. Louis river in the Duluth area. Just before we reached the bridge we saw Kris's mom and dad and their family friends the Van't Hof's. They had come up to see us finish and Kris's dad and friend Gene were going to ride the rest of the way into town with us. The four of us headed toward the bridge and then met up with our friends Bill and Lucas. Lucas is a team member of Superior Dream, a team of two who paddled around Superior in 2010. Look for their documentary to come out soon! So the 6 of us headed over the bridge and into Duluth.

We arrived in town and headed through downtown on Superior Street. We got a few honks of support and a few shouts. Just before we reached the Brewhouse we stopped to have a moment together before we crossed the finish line. When we were ready we pedaled the last few blocks and rounded the corner to see family and friends waiting for us to cross. We heard their cheers just as we were rounded the corner. Our emotions had gotten us. It was a pretty overwhelming experience.

We crossed through the tape that Mona and Bre had made us and it was officially over. We crossed the line that we started on 97 days and ~5,500 miles earlier. We stopped and hugged before we dove into the crowd for congratulations and reunions.

Kris got everyone together and said a few words of thanks to the crowd and we were presented with an honorary booklet of praise from the Mayor by one of his assistants. It was an awesome experience and it all happened so fast. After the crowd broke up we interviewed with a few news agencies and then headed to the Brewhouse for our first Brewhouse beer since the start.

We spent the rest of the day with our family and friends and enjoyed being home. Although it is a mixed bag of emotions. We are glad to be home, but we feel like we could have kept going. It will be an interesting couple of weeks, but we will get through it and back into the swing of things. Stay tuned for more progress.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bicyclists finish trip around Great Lakes - Article by Peter Passi

A pair of bicyclists from Duluth ended a more-than-5,300-mile trip around the Great Lakes on Sunday, back home where they began their journey May 1.

Kris McNeal and Zach Chase, ages 26 and 25, respectively, laid claim to becoming the first cyclists to circumnavigate the entire Great Lakes system, including the St. Lawrence Seaway, in a single season.
They completed their ride in 97 days, and were welcomed home right on schedule Sunday afternoon by a few dozen well-wishers waiting outside the Fitger’s Brewery Complex for their arrival.

“Thank you for following us, and thank you for believing in us,” McNeal told supporters Sunday, noting that public encouragement kept them going through difficult times.

The ride started hard. Just two days into it, McNeal’s wheel got caught in a rut, causing him to lose control and fall near Lutsen. But after a bit of bandaging, the two soldiered forward.

For nine straight days early in their trip, Chase and McNeal rode through cold, stinging rain up the North Shore of Lake Superior, pausing for an unplanned hotel stay one night, after McNeal suffered frostbitten toes.

A shoulderless stretch of road in Canada that’s heavily trafficked by trucks proved particularly harrowing.

“Those nine days were probably the worst, when you’ve got semi trucks whipping by you at 65 to 70 mph,” Chase said.

McNeal recalled that the situation required hyper-vigilance.

“For the first time, we became very aware we might die trying to do this trip, but it got a lot better after that,” he said.

Chase said they did their best to stay on shoulders and out of the way of motorized traffic, but that wasn’t always possible, and occasionally conditions forced them to ride in the roadway.

“For the most part, people really respected us on the road, but there were definitely times when cars would come extremely close,” he said.

Traffic wasn’t the only difficulty.

“For the first two weeks, our bodies felt pretty well beat, but after that, we got into a groove. And it wasn’t as much a physical challenge as a mental one,” Chase said.

The pair maintained a web site — — where people could track their daily progress and receive updates on the adventure. People also could post comments. McNeal said the messages of encouragement they received often provided a much-needed lift.

“We couldn’t have done this without help from our supporters,” McNeal said. “There were many times when we wanted to give up, but we couldn’t because we knew people were counting on us.”

Chase and McNeal shot video of their entire trip and plan to produce a documentary about their experience, in hopes that it will give people a new respect for the Great Lakes and will inspire others to seek out their own cycling adventures.

The pair typically spent about six hours per day in the saddle, logging 60 to 70 miles before making camp. On their biggest day, McNeal and Chase covered 104 miles of road, thanks to a favorable tailwind and flat terrain they encountered on the shores of Lake Erie.

Social media, including Facebook, also allowed the duo to make new connections on their journey. McNeal said a number of people they met online offered them food and lodging en route.

McNeal’s and Chase’s latest journey wasn’t the first ambitious biking adventure the pair has tackled.

In 2008, the two completed a 1,700-mile trek between Seattle and Mexico on the West Coast.

“On that first trip, we learned a lot about ourselves and each other,” Chase said.

“Just like everyone else, we have problems, and we have to work through them or nothing gets resolved,” he said.

McNeal agreed, explaining that both he and his travel partner share some similarities.

“We’re both pretty easy-going guys, and we don’t always speak our minds,” he said.

The trip taught McNeal a lesson about the value opening lines of communication.

“You can’t bottle yourself up. You need to be open and honest and talk, or else little things can build up and you might explode and say things you don’t even mean,” he said.

For more than three months on their journey, McNeal and Chase shared a small tent each night, and some days they chose to ride at a distance, reconnecting periodically.

“We realized we both sometimes needed personal time on the bike,” Chance said. “It’s about giving one another space.”

The pair traveled about 3,000 miles before sustaining their first flat tire, but the charm didn’t last, and they finished their journey only after repairing 15 flats in all. McNeal had the most serious malfunction, when the inner tube of his rear tire blew, and the rim was so badly bent that he had to hitchhike into town for a replacement.

Despite moments of adversity, Chase said: “This was an amazing way to experience the Great Lakes.”

After seeing them all, Chase said Lake Superior still remains his favorite as the most unspoiled. He described finishing the journey as a “bittersweet” experience.

McNeal, too, had mixed feelings about the ride coming to an end. “It has been life-changing. I’ve never tried to do something like this before. I’m really proud of what we’ve done. We accomplished
all of our goals as best we could, and that meant a lot to us.”

McNeal and Chase said they’re already hatching plans for their next trip — perhaps a journey on water instead of around it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Our last days on the road!

 Day 92 – Union Bay to Ironwood ~ 40 miles

We woke up this morning and had our breakfast and did a bit of filming as we biked into the Porcupine Mountains State Park. We followed the southern boundary road through the park. The road was really hilly and it was hot, but it was a very beautiful ride through the park. We would climb to the top of a long hill and then crest and go down and do it again. It was like that until we got out of the park and into Wakefield.

Once we reached Wakefield we met up with Greg and Madeline at the grocery store and Kris and Zach ate a quick bite before we continued on towards Ironwood. At this point we were on highway 2 and the riding was a bit easier and quicker paced. We also crossed back into the Central Time Zone for the last time at some point on the ride. Once we reached Ironwood we headed towards our destination for the night. It was the home of a guy named Rich who is on the warm showers network. He wasn't going to be in town, but he was gracious enough to let us stay anyways. We went in and got changed while Greg and Madeline went into town. After we got settled we went into town and met up with them.

We stopped at a local place for food and beer and decided to go somewhere else for food after the first beer because there wasn't much on the menu for Madeline, who has food allergies. We went and had a nice dinner that Greg graciously paid for and then we parted ways. They wanted to continue on a bit farther still that afternoon.

We headed back to the place after stopping for groceries and a movie from the redbox. It was a perfect night to relax. We watched the movie and had snacks and just relaxed. It was great! Tomorrow we are heading to Ashland.

Day 93 – Ironwood to Ashland ~ 38 miles

We woke up this morning at around 9:30 or so and sat in the kitchen and ate our breakfast. We packed up our things and hopped back onto the highway and headed towards Wisconsin. We crossed the border pretty much right away in the morning and the roads were pretty good, allowing us to keep decent pace.

About an hour into the ride the clouds moved in and it started to rain really big rain drops. Thankfully it didn't last more than a half hour and we were able to continue on with less worry of the traffic. Outside of Ashland a ways we cruised down a huge hill that we could see Ashland from the top of. It was a high point of the ride.

We reached Ashland and had to deal with the road construction at the edge of town. At some point in the construction Zach got a slow leak in his rear tire, which he would discover later was caused by a rusted nail. Once we got into town we went to a fast food joint for lunch. After lunch we headed to our host Tiffany's house. She lives right in town on the main drag. She has been following our trip and offer a place to stay. We sat on the porch for a while and then watched a bit of the Olympics on TV while Tiffany was at a work meeting.

When she got back we headed downtown for dinner at the South Shore Brewery. We had really great food and good beer and watched more Olympics. Kris had the Curd Burglar. It is a burger with jalapeno cheese curds, bacon, lettuce, and some kind of sauce. Zach had an awesome patty melt and some wings. We will definitely go back there for food.

After dinner we walked back to Tiffany's place and hung out on the porch for a bit and then watched Capt'n Ron. Classic movie. Are headed to Little Sand Bay tomorrow to spend a couple nights with our friend Lane who is working for the park service this summer. We are excited to be there and see him.

Day 94 – Ashland to Little Sand Bay

We woke up and had breakfast and packed up our things. We walked outside and immediately discovered that it was going to be a really hot day. Zach patched his flat and then we were on our way. Tiffany biked with us down the path until we reached the artesian well which is just on the edge of town. We filled up our water there and then said our goodbyes and headed down the road. Before we made the turn off of highway 2 onto 13 we stopped at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. It was totally worth the stop and the exhibits were great. Afterwards we hopped onto 13 and started north.

We went through Washburn and then had to climb a couple of really sizable hills to reach the nice coast into Bayfield. Bayfield is a gorgeous town and is right at the gateway to the Apostle Islands. It is also a major berry and orchard capital of the region. We coasted into town and then met up with Greg and Madeline who spent last night in Washburn. We had lunch together and then picked up some groceries and headed towards Lane's place in Little Sand Bay. Unfortunately it was a really hilly ride the rest of the way.

We reached his house and just as we pulled in Lane pulled up behind us in his car. He had come from Bayfield after working on one of the islands for the day. The three of us went for a swim and then headed back into Bayfield for dinner. After eating we stopped at one more bar for a drink and then headed back to Lane's place for a campfire on the beach. The three of us sat on the beach and enjoyed each others company. Lane went to bed around 11 or midnight and Kris and Zach stayed on the beach until 2:30. We talked about the trip and what we had accomplished and what we are going to do when we get back. It was that last night of solitude that we are going to have on the trip and it was a really nice way to spend it. We were able to get a lot of thoughts and ideas off of our chest and reminisce about the trip.

Day 95 – Rest Day: Little Sand Bay

We woke up at 10 this morning, even though we definitely could have slept longer. We ate and then headed to the visitors center to see if we could get a tour of the old fishery that is on the bay. It was started in the 1930's by 3 brothers and they were successful commercial fisherman for 30 years. Most all of their buildings and gear are still in amazing shape. It was really cool to see how they operated.

After the tour we ate our lunch and did some filming. We headed into town around 3:30 to get a few things done on the computer and pick up Lane from work. We are headed to a fish fry tonight and tomorrow we are pedaling our last long day to Wisconsin Point in Superior, WI. We are camping out on the beach tomorrow night and a bunch of our friends are going to be out there with us. It is going to be a lot of fun and a great way to come home.

It is going to be a really difficult adjustment back into the normal swing of things, but we know we can do it with time. It is hard to think about because we have had such an amazing time on this journey and it has become our life. We can't thank everyone who helped us along the way enough. We love you guys! The experiences we had meeting people are what made the trip for us.

It is time to move on to other things, but we are only partially done with this journey. The days of production and presentations are approaching quickly, and we are really excited for that.

Here's to great friends, great lakes, and great adventures!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marquette to the Porkies

 Day 88 – Marquette to Baraga ~ 78 miles

We woke up this morning and had an awesome breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee. We want to send a huge shout out and thanks to Nancy for being such a gracious host! After breakfast we packed up our things and headed toward the huge climb out of Marquette. It ended up being about 6 or 7 miles of climbing before the terrain began to level out a bit. We made it up after a while and then we were cruising along pretty good. It was a nice day weather wise, blue skies and a wind that wasn't to bad. And the shoulders were comfortable.

We got a bit separated at one point and its just our luck that Kris got a flat. And it was his trailer tire. Zach was a bit ahead at that point and a driver that saw Kris fixing the flat pulled over to let Zach know that Kris had stopped. So Zach turned around to see what was up. The culprit was an inch long screw that worked its way into the tire and punctured both sides of the tube. We got the tire patched and pumped back up and we were off again. We were also hoping to see a moose today, but no luck.

We stopped for lunch at one of the only gas stations around and had a shitty meal. After eating we continued on, and at some point made the turn back north to head toward the Keweenaw Peninsula. We are so close to Duluth at this point that one of the road signs we passed had Duluth on it. We made our way toward Baraga and stopped in L'anse for dinner and breakfast for the morning. After stopping we biked about 5 more miles to the Baraga State Park Campground. Its not a bad little campground right on the Keweenaw Bay, but it is awful tonight. It just so happens to be the weekend of “Christmas in July”, an event where people bring and set up there Christmas decorations in the park. It is really pretty gross that State Parks even allow this to happen. Its basically just RV's with giant snowmen and christmas lights. Such a waste and it totally takes away from the natural experience of the park. So we got a site as far from the madness as possible. We showered, ate, drank a few beers from the Keweenaw Brewing Company, and waited for Bre and Andy to show up.
They arrived around 9:30 and it was so amazing to see them. It is the first time Zach and Bre had seen each other since the beginning of the trip. We stood and talked for a bit and then got their tents set up and went into Baraga for a few more beers and some food. We spent the rest of the night talking around the campfire before heading to bed. Tomorrow we are heading 30 miles north to Houghton/ Hancock area.

Day 89 – Baraga to Hancock City Campground ~ 33 miles

We woke up around 9:30 or so and got our things packed up and ate some breakfast. Bre and Andy drove to Houghton while Kris and Zach biked. We all left right around 11 and headed north. It was a pretty nice ride, following the shoreline of the bay for a good chunk of the way. We only had about 30 miles to go so we waited to have lunch until we got to Houghton. As we arrived into town we passed right by Michigan Tech and headed into downtown to meet our friends and have lunch. We chose a seafood and grill called Joey's. We all enjoyed our food and each others company. After we paid and walked out we realized that Kris's trailer tire had gone flat again. We fixed it and then headed across the river on the lift bridge to Hancock. Google gave us the wrong directions to the camp so we called the campground and got the right directions.

We arrived and got a site for two nights. We set up camp and then the four of us went down to the river for a swim. We swam for a bit and then showered and decided to head back to Houghton and go to the Keweenaw Brewing Company. We went right next store to the brewery and got some pizza and brought it over to the brewery to eat. The brewery encourages that, which we thought was pretty cool. We spent the rest of the night at the brewery, sampling beers and playing cribbage and Apples to Apples. We had a great time. Kris was the champion and sampled all the beers.

After the brewery we headed back to the campground and had a fire and then went to bed. Tomorrow is a rest day!

Day 90 – Rest day: Hancock

Zach and Bre woke up before the others and went for a walk along the river. The other two were just getting up as they got back. The four of us got in the car and headed to find breakfast. The first place we stopped was packed and had a line out the door so we tried Perkins, which was closed down. Our third and final decision was to get groceries and head to McLain State Park to have a picnic of sorts. It was a good decision. The park is really nice, right on Lake Superior. We ate and then attempted to go swimming. It was to shallow and rocky and there were fish eggs floating everywhere in the water. We got out.

We headed further into the park to check out the lighthouse. That was also a good decision because we were able to walk out onto the breakwater and jump out into the cool clean Lake, no fish eggs. We were about to walk back in when we saw people jumping off of the lighthouse platform into the water. We had to do it. So we scrambled the rest of the way out to the end on the boulders and swam out to the lighthouse. There were ladders that went up to the platform, but someone, probably the Coast Guard had cut the bottom rungs of the ladder off so swimmers couldn't reach them. It took us a bit but we were able to find a way to get up. We jumped off into the water and it was a lot of fun. After swimming we headed back to the campground.

At that point it was time for Bre and Andy to head back home. It was really hard to see them go, but we are really happy and thankful that we got to spend the time with them. And we have to remember that we are going to be back home in a week. After they left we headed into town and picked up groceries for the night and morning. We spent the rest of the night charging gear and relaxing. Just before bed the rain moved in so we hopped into to avoid getting wet. Back on the road tomorrow and headed toward the Porcupine Mountains.

Day 91 – Hancock to Union Bay Campground ~ 68 miles

We woke up this morning and kind of dozed in and out of sleep while the rain fell. When the rain stopped we got out of the tent. We had breakfast and headed south. We had another hill to climb out of Houghton just like the one out of Marquette. Not something you want to do right away in the morning. And to make matters worse we had a brutal headwind. We eventually made it to the top. We were split up at this point. Kris was a machine and blasted up the hill. We didn't see each other for another few hours. The headwind was so bad. 15 to 30 mph gusts directly at us. It continued like this all day.

Not only was the wind bad but the hills were pretty much nonstop as well. You know its bad when you have to pedal to move downhill. There wasn't much to see and we weren't able to stop for food until we reached Ontonagon. Once we got there we stopped for our late lunch and got groceries for the night and morning.

We biked out of Ontonagon and headed about 12 miles or so into Porcupine Mountains State Park. We found the first campground we came upon and called it good. We are exhausted after today. We set up camp, ate, and then showered. After showering we played a couple games of Polish golf, or testicle toss as most call it, on the neighbors set. The campground host gave us some wood after we told him the story of the trip, so we are spending the rest of the night around the fire.

Tomorrow we are meeting up with Mona's (Kris's girlfriend) Dad and sister and they are going to bike with us for a bit. We are headed back into the Central time zone for the last time tomorrow, thankfully, and are staying in Ironwood. It will be our last day in Michigan! We are so close to home we can smell it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Days 78 - 87 Milwaukee to Marquette MI

Day 78 – Kohler to Green Bay via Kewaunee ~ 86 miles

We woke up this morning at 7 because Alex and his wife had to head to work this morning. So we got up and headed upstairs to make ourselves some eggs with the food that they offered us. Anyone who knows us knows that it isn't our style to wake up that early, but it was nice to start the day early for once. After eating we got our things together, said our goodbyes and took off down the road at around 8. We had so much fun riding with the guys from Fat Kats and hope to see them again.

We headed through Kohler, past the unknowingly famous Kohler products headquarters and north toward Manitowoc. Being that it was still pretty early the traffic was minimal and we were able to make it to Manitowoc pretty quickly. We stopped to refill our water and then took the bike trail along Lake Michigan up to Two Rivers where we decided to wait on lunch and keep going. We got on highway 42 and continued to head north toward Kewaunee. It was so hot already even though it was only about noon. As we were nearing Kewaunee there was a storm front coming in and all at once the wind totally switched directions and the temperature went down about 10 degrees. Even though we were now fighting the wind it was awesome to have the temps cool down a bit. Once we reached Kewaunee, our destination for the day, we stopped for lunch and picked up groceries for the night and morning.

After doing our chores we headed toward the campground which was about 5 miles out of town. We got there just as the clouds were moving in and rain was starting to fall. We went in to pay for our site and they told us it was $38 per night. We went outside under the awning and thought about what to do. We ultimately decided that it was to much to pay for a spot to sleep on the ground. We waited until the rain and lightning slowed down and took off toward Green Bay. Good thing we started early this morning. At this point we had done about 65 miles.

We took a straight as an arrow country road that took us basically the whole way to Green Bay. It was a nice 20 mile ride, especially because it was a quiet road and the rain that came through cooled down the air temps. Once we reached Green Bay we looked on Kris's phone for a public campground, and found only RV parks. We decided to find a cheap hotel. We found one for 45 bucks! We checked in and ate our dinner...cans of soup and crackers.

We are going to try to catch up on some sleep and since tomorrow is going to be a shorter day we are going to stop and check out Lambeau Field! We will be heading to Oconto which is less than 40 miles from here.

Day 79 – Green Bay to Menominee, MI ~ 64 miles

We got ready this morning to the tune of Cool Runnings. We headed out the door and headed west towards Lambeau Field. We made our way through the city and eventually found it, shimmering off in the distance. We were proud because we had found it by smelling the air for all of the trophies! When we arrived we met a big group of cyclists that were biking around in Door County. We talked with them for a bit then snapped some photos and took off. It took a little while but we made it to the northern edge of the city and started to take some side roads following the highway north.

The backroads were nice and flat with very little traffic but we were tired and Kris had a migraine. We were also fighting the wind in our faces but we eventually made it to Oconto where we decided it was time for lunch. Someone gave us directions to where there was some fast food but all there was was McDonalds so it had to do. After lunch we headed north again and after an hour entered the town of Peshtigo. This town has some history with bad fires. There was a huge fire in the area at the same time as the Chicago fires so no one really knows about it. Once we were in town, we found out that the bridge on our path was out. It was looking as though we would have to brave the freeway as there were no other bridges over the river for many miles. We stopped and asked if there was another way across and we found out that there was a bike bridge across the river nearby.

We found the paper plant and went behind it to find a very rocky but manageable bike path. The bridge across the river was an old railroad bridge where someone had laid boards down to make it into a bike bridge. Pretty scary but we made it across and went on our way to Menominee. When we passed through Marinette we stopped and rented a couple new movies for the night. We passed over a bridge and were in Menominee but more importantly back in Michigan, finally in the UP.

We quickly purchased groceries and went to the campground, which was just behind the grocery store and right on the river. We checked in and set up camp. The rest of the night we ate dinner and watched Wrath of the Titans and 21 Jump street. Both were very entertaining. In the middle of the second movie it started to rain so we put everything away and got ready for bed. We then finished the movie and fell off to sleep.

Tomorrow we are heading to Escanaba, MI and there doesn't seem to be too much in between the towns. We will pick up lunch in the morning to have along the way somewhere and hopefully traffic isn't too bad as there is only one highway to take.

Day 80 – Menomonie, MI to Escanaba ~ 63 miles

After it started raining it didn't stop, it kept on right through the night. We would wake up periodically to find that out. And when we finally decided it was time to get up, guess what, it was still raining. That is the worst to start the day out in the rain. Luckily there was an indoor space for us to eat our breakfast. We ate in the dry space and then braved the rain while we packed up our gear. It also sucks to pack up the tent wet because you know its going to be wet when you put it up that night. We had to look on the bright side and realize that at least it was fairly warm out and if anything the rain was washing the salt off of our bike clothes. After packing up we headed out at about noon and stopped at the grocery store to pick up lunch for the day. We are headed to the land of small population.

As we headed north out of town we quickly realized that today was going to be a rough one. The shoulders were uncomfortably small and in combination with rain and semi traffic it wasn't the ideal situation. Scary is a good way to put it. We rode as carefully as we could at the mercy of the traffic coming up behind us, checking our mirrors as often as possible to see what was approaching. We rode for about 30 miles or so until we reached a state park where we knew we could eat our lunch under the cover of a pavilion. We ate and then used the hand driers in the bathroom to attempt to dry our bike gloves and warm our hands a bit before we headed out again. Luckily for us the rain had stopped by the time we left.

We continued on and the sun began to fry off the clouds. We biked the same distance we had before lunch to reach Escanaba. The biking was much more enjoyable now that the roads had dried up and the drivers less distracted. Unfortunately we crossed back into the Eastern Time Zone and we lost an hour. So instead of it being 4:00 pm it was now 5:00. Once we got into town we stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies and headed to Culver's for dinner. By that point we were dry again and the sun was shinning, even if it was going down. We biked the last few miles to the campground just on the northern end of the city. We got our site and ate dinner.

We had a decision to make. Our plan was to continue east toward St. Ignace and then head north to Tahquamegon Falls SP and then west to Muskallonge SP and Grand Marais. Unfortunately when we planned the route we didn't realize that the county roads to and from Muskallonge SP are gravel. To far of a distance for us to go on gravel roads. And we don't want to spend the last weeks of our trip zig-zagging and backtracking on roads all so we could see a couple state parks and minimal amounts of shorelines. We know the state parks we are missing are nice but we feel that our time would be better spent on Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a place that neither of us has been. So tomorrow once we reach Manistique, MI we are going to take Highway 77 north to Grand Marais to spend a couple days checking out the Lakeshore and then get back onto our planned route. It was a tough decision, but we think its a good one and we think we deserve to spend a couple days really enjoying an awesome park.

Tomorrow we are headed to Manistique, our last day on Lake Michigan.

Day 81 – Escanaba to Manistique ~ 65 miles

We woke up this morning to a nice sunny blue sky, a great sight after yesterday morning. We ate our breakfast of our usual bagels and nutella, oranges, and a special treat of poptarts! When we got into camp last night the office was closed and nobody bothered to ask us for the fee this morning, not that they should have to ask us, so we rode away without paying. Oops.

The riding conditions we much more pleasurable this morning. Sunny skies, cooler temps, wide shoulders, and a nice tailwind for a good chunk of the day. We took advantage of it and made awesome time. It really feels good to go fast pulling our gear. We spent most of the day biking through State and National Forest, keeping our eyes peeled for the lone moose. Some smaller hills, but nothing to fret about. A pretty straight forward day of riding. There are very few populated centers up here so we took advantage of a c-store when we saw one at about half the distance of the days ride, right at the northern end of the Big Bay de Noc.

We ate our lunch and then continued on towards Manistique. Unfortunately the campground is about 4 miles short of town so we had to bike into town to get dinner and breakfast and then bike back to Indian Lake State Park. Once we got to camp we paid the fee and headed toward our site. As we were going we saw a few bike tourists at a site and stopped to talk. We found out that they were two different parties of bikers. One is a guy from Washington who is going to grad school in Madison, WI and biking to Thessalon, ON where his family has a cabin. The other is a party of two girls from California who biked from the coast of Washington to Whitefish, MT and then took the train to Milwaukee and are biking around the UP to meet their friend in Glen Arbor, MI. They offered to share their site with us, so we gladly accepted and got a refund from the park office.

We set up camp and sat and talked for a bit while we ate dinner. The other bikers went to bed early because they are going to get up early to make it to St. Ignace tomorrow which is about 90 miles east of here. After dinner we showered and did some filming, read magazines, and listened to an retired Conservation Officer, who has since become an author who writes about his experiences working in the field, give a talk.

Mosquitos are bad tonight so we are writing this from the safety of the tent. Tomorrow we are headed north. Today was our last full day on Lake Michigan...on to the final stretch of Lake Superior! We will be hitting the 5000 mile mark in the next couple days! It will be a huge achievement for us. We are excited to see Pictured Rocks and be back on Lake Superior!

Day 82 – Manistique to Grand Marais ~70 miles

At some point during the night it started to rain. The two other groups of bikers that we stayed with were up and out of the site by 7 am or earlier. We took the other route, as we usually do, and slept till about 9:30 or 10. The clouds hadn't made up their mind whether or not they were going to keep letting water out or stop and let the sun shine. It continued to rain on and off while we laid in the tent. Kris bravely got out first and went down to have coffee and doughnuts at the camp hosts site, and packed his things while he waited. It took a while for Zach to get out, but he did around 10:30 or so and packed up the tent while the rain had stopped for a minute. We left camp around 11 or 11:30 and headed back toward Manistique and Highway 77 where we would head north.

It was about a 25 miles ride to our turn north from the campsite. And by the time we reached Manistique the rain had stopped completely and the sun was beginning to come out. As we turned north we began to encounter some hills. We had to cross the drainage line between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, so we expected there to be some hills. It was fairly hot once the sun came out so we slowly cranked our way up and over the divide.

We planned to stop in Germfask for lunch, but when we got there we discovered that everything had been closed down. It didn't look like the small town was doing so well. So our only options were to eat the cheez-its that we had with or push on to Seney to get a real lunch. We chose the latter. We pedaled past the Seney National Wildlife Refuge on our way and hoped to see a moose. No luck. Once we got into Seney we stopped at one of the local diners in town. As we pulled up we met two cyclists that were on their way from Toronto to Winnipeg. They were going to stay the night in Seney and partake in the local town celebration that was going on that night. We went inside and ate a decent lunch. Kris had a chicken strip basket and Zach had a patty melt. After lunch we headed toward Grand Marais. The air was really hazy today and we would later learn that it is smoke from a fire up in Canada.

The road to Grand Marais was quiet and mostly straight as an arrow. We spent most of that section riding apart, but as we approached town we rode together and pedaled as hard a we could to reach the Lake. We flew down the hill into town and as Lake Superior came into view we were yelling and screaming with excitement and joy. We were just so happy to be back on our lake! We stopped in at Lake Superior Brewing Company, the local brew pub in town, and celebrated our achievement with a beer. After that we went to camp which was only a couple of blocks down the road, set up our tent, and then went and jumped in the lake. It is warmer that it usually is for some reason. But we aren't complaining. After changing we headed back to the brewery for dinner and some beers. We headed back to camp after that and headed to bed. Zach had to use the rest room and was sitting down doing his thing when someone went into the stall next to him and said “ya'll want to hear some tunes while we sit here. I got the stuff” and he proceeded to blair gangster rap. The best part was that in the far stall there was a man in his late 60's or 70's that had to sq

Tomorrow we are headed just about 12 miles down the road into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to spend a few days resting.

Day 83 – Grand Marais to Pictured Rocks Campground ~13 miles

We woke up around 10 or so and ate breakfast and then biked the ¼ mile into Grand Marais to pick up groceries for the next couple days. We are headed into the National Lakeshore and there are no supplies between here and just outside of Munising. We picked up just enough to last us until our arrival in Munising.

We headed out toward the lakeshore and about 4 miles down the road we passed the 5,000 mile mark of the trip! Kris made a sign out of a cheez-its box and we celebrated on the side of the road, holding up the sign for cars to see as they passed. One car stopped and the guy got out and took our picture. It was a great spot to pass the mileage marker. Just after we passed 5000 miles we reached one of the visitors centers for the park. We stopped in and looked around and picked up some reading materials.

After stopping we continued on and then stopped and the Log Chute overlook that is just west of the Great Sable Dunes. We walked the short trail out to the chute. It is a 500 foot drop down to the lake at about a 45 degree angle. Easy to get down, but incredibly tough to get back up. It is called the log chute overlook because it is the site of an old log chute that they used to use in the late 1800's and early 1900's in the days when they were logging the red and white pine off the land. They would send the logs down the chute to the lake where they would travel over water to the saw mills. Legend says that the logs would travel fast enough and with enough friction to start the chute on fire sometimes. The view of the dunes from the chute was amazing. We could also see the Au Sable Lighthouse from our perch.

After stopping we headed into camp which was another few miles down the shore. We set up camp at the lower campground and got the last site available. We immediately went down to the beach and went swimming. The water in the lake is unusually warm. We swam around the site of one of the old shipwrecks in the area. It has since washed to shore and all that remains are the beams of the structure of the ship with the metal rods sticking out everywhere. After swimming we went back up to camp and got all of our things situated. After that we took the 1.5 miles walk down to the lighthouse. We got there just after 5, which was the time they closed, and the ranger on duty kindly gave us the key to the tower. So we thanked her and headed up to the top for our own private tour. We got to check out the old Fresnel lens, no longer in working condition, and walk around the outside of the tower. Although the old lens isn't used anymore the tower still gives off light for ships today. The Au Sable light house was built in the mid 1800s and was manned by the coast guard until 1958 when the house was vacated. The stretch of land along the coast in the region is known as the Graveyard Coast and is now home to more than 40 shipwrecks. Ships during that time used to sail using a technique called “coasting”, which is when they would sail close enough to see land. The problem with using that technique in this region is that there is a sandstone bar that protrudes into the lake for up to a miles and is only 6 feet deep in many spots. Not a good thing for big ships. The area along the dunes in also notoriously known for being foggy.

After we checked out the lighthouse we went back to camp and made dinner. Our neighbors in camp happened to be the brother and his wife of one of the brewers from Fitger's. Small world. So we spent the rest of the night hanging out with them sitting by the fire, drinking a bit, and playing Phase 10. It was a good night. Rest day tomorrow.

Day 84 – Rest Day – Pictured Rocks

We woke up around 10:30 and after breakfast headed down to the beach. The waves were huge today so we spent a great deal of the day getting tossed around by the water, body surfing and playing rodeo with the massive boulders in the water. That is how the majority of our day was spent. We are burnt. Tomorrow we are headed to Munising.

Day 85 – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Munising ~ 38 miles

We woke up and at the last of our food supply and headed down the road towards Munising. No more than a mile down the road Kris's back tire exploded with the sound of a gun going off. He had noticed something wrong with it, but thought he could ride on it. Somehow the tube had exploded sending the tire bead shooting off of the rim. It ended up flaring out the rim in two different spots. Luckily we were close to an overlook so he walked the bike to a spot where we could get out of the road. Upon closer inspection we realized that we didn't have the tools to make the bike rideable. The rim wasn't going to hold the bead of the tire. So our only option was to have Kris catch a ride the 35 miles into Munising where we were hoping there was a bike shop...there isn't one. We stood there on the side of the road for a while trying to get someone to take Kris and his gear. Eventually we decided that Zach should just bike toward Munising because Kris was eventually going to get a ride and probably beat Zach there. We wished each other luck and Zach headed down the road. About half hour after splitting ways Kris passed Zach in the back of a truck. He had found someone to give him a ride!

We met back up at the Subway in Munising. Kris had borrowed a vice grips from and auto repair shop and bent the rim back into place in the two spots that it had flared out. Obviously not perfect, but it was the best he could do with the supplies he had and no bike shop. Always problem solving. After subway we got groceries and headed to our campsite just west of Munising. In camp we met some nice folks next to us and chatted for while. Kris later met the Lenos, a couple from Cloquet. They invited us over to their camp and when we went over they had made us a great dinner and offered beer as well. We spent a good chunk of the night swapping travel stories and looking at pictures of the flooding in Duluth. We eventually called it a night but at least it is cool and we can get some good sleep.

Tomorrow we are headed about 40 miles to Marquette where we are going to spend a couple days. We are hoping that Kris's bike is up for the trip. All he can do at this point is take it slow and try to make it to Marquette where we know there is a bike shop. On top of it all it is supposed to rain over an inch tomorrow. Great....time to get home.

Day 86 – Munising to Marquette ~ 40 miles

At about 6am this morning we woke up and it looked as though the rain was coming earlier than 11am. We decided to sleep as we were very tired and not up to pedaling on such little sleep. An hour or so later the rain started and we eventually got up later after that. We packed as quickly as possible and headed over to the bathrooms where we packed properly and ate breakfast staying dry. We talked to a couple of film makers before we took off and got some good ideas for shots and when we start the long editing process. Kris took off early as he would have to go slow and Zach would soon catch up. He left in the pouring rain followed soon by Zach. The rain kept up for an hour but then cleared up the rest of the way to Marquette. We soon met back up after the rain and made our way into town along the lake and on a rail trail.

In town we found our way to Nancy's house and met her close friends who were staying in the backyard. They were working on a lake stone mural walkway in the front yard, it was really beautiful. Kris headed straight towards the bike shop next door and quickly got his bike fixed. He had to buy a new rim, money he didn't want to spend but the bike is now fixed and he can travel faster. We spent time back at Nancy's cleaning our bikes and drying off all of our gear as we waited for her to arrive home. We also got showered up and relaxed. She eventually arrived and we hung out in her house chatting over some beer and snacks. She made some pizzas and then we ate dinner with her friends in their motor home. Dinner was great, just what we needed. After dinner we decided to go looking for ice cream with Nancy but the place was closed. So we headed up to the Oar Dock Brewery and hung out there for a while. We stayed a little longer but nancy had to go home because she worked in the morning. When we arrived back home Kris slept in the tent and Zach slept in Nancy's van that she had prepared for him earlier.

Tomorrow we will enjoy a rest day and check out the town, maybe even see the new Batman movie, which we have been drooling about.

Day 87 – Rest Day in Marquette, MI

We woke up this morning and started to do much needed laundry. After that was all said and done we headed into town and got lunch and coffee at 3rd Street Bagel. After lunch we headed a couple of miles up the road to the movie theater. Zach had lost his bike lock key but luckily Kris had brought his so we were all set. The movie was fantastic and we would definitely see it again. We made our way back to the bagel place to look for Zach's keys but they were no where to be found. We then headed back to home base and there they were lying in the grass.

We decided to walk out on the breakwater to the lighthouse. The first part was all cement and pretty easy going. Maybe took about 5 minutes to get out there. The second part was all huge boulders with slippery seagull poop on them so we had to be careful. It was also a longer stretch and maybe took 20 minutes. We hung out at the lighthouse for a while then headed back. A seagull flew within a couple of inches of Kris' head and tried to grab him. We made our way back to the house and had a great dinner with Nancy. We will probably spend the rest of the evening hanging out and getting ready for a 70 mile day tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are heading to Baraga, which is about 25 miles away from Houghton. We will meet Zach's girlfriend Bre and his friend Andy tomorrow at the campground. We are excited to see them.