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Another Hundred Miles with Friends… Well, not quite.


Saturday’s ride, at the Northwest Tour with my friends, was the hardest century I’ve ever done, by a long shot.  It was so hard, I only needed 2-1/4 miles to make it a full century… and I didn’t care.  97.72 miles was good enough for government work.

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We had long climbs, short climbs, steep climbs, gradual climbs, and more rollers than one could shake a stick at.  It was harder than the Horsey Hundred in Kentucky, harder than any one day of DALMAC, harder than Mountain Mayhem Beat the Heat.  My friends, that one hurt.  Our average speed was 17.5 mph when all was said and done – and that was 1.3 mph faster than last year’s group did it (of which I was not a part).

However, I did have an exceptionally cool moment… Rounding a corner, coming off an awesome descent, I looked up to see a green sign but it didn’t signify a City Limit… It was the 45th Parallel. Now honestly, how often can you take the midway point to the equator or the north pole?! I was out of the saddle instantly and I sprinted like I meant it. Even Mark acknowledged, “Yep, you get extra points for that one.”

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The last ten miles, Chuck said to me, “I think I’m running out of gas”.  The last five it wasn’t a matter of “I think” – and I was glad because I was smoked too.  I’ve only seen Chuck run out of juice twice in four years, so if he’s hit, I know we worked hard

That said, as far as a bonding experience with my cycling buds, it was about as good as it gets.

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On the other hand, I was a little shy on the photos for that ride because I was more concerned with riding…

That all changed for day two. My friends all said this was the flatter day. They got me.

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We had a solid eight man crew and only two were notably stronger than the rest of us, and not by much. We worked well together and really had a grand time ticking off the miles.

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In the photo above we are rolling toward Bear Lake in Manistee County…

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Then came Arcadia Bluffs and the two biggest climbs of the day… They were pretty tough, a couple of miles each at about 12%. This is Chuck pulling into the scenic lookout…

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I was third of the eight up the hill so I had a second to take some photos of my bros hitting the parking lot…

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My buds Mike and Phill…

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Truthfully, no picture can do that climb justice, it was simply awesome.

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Of course, when one climbs something like that, a descent isn’t far behind…

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From there, we had another ass-breaker of a climb into Frankfort and this…

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The end of the line, baby. Chuck’s wife was at an art fair in town so she spared us the 35 mile ride back to camp. We ended up with 72 miles and some change. I could have gone the distance but after an awesome lunch at Dinghy’s, the ride home sounded a lot better than trying to hammer out the remainder in the near 90 degree heat.

My Venge has 20 gears. I used every one this weekend. Top speed, 45 mph. Low speed, 7 mph.

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…and it was awesome. If you’ve ever thought about a multi-day tour in Michigan, the Northwest Tour is the best thing going. Utterly spectacular scenery and an incredibly challenging ride.

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8 Comments

  1. Niall says:

    Sounds great. How many feet of climbing was in the 100miler? Trying to compare to the terrain we get here in Ireland.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Guessing, 10,000 to 11,000 feet. I don’t have a fancy computer, just bare bones. I do several other rides in the area and they’re all between 9,000 and 10,000 but this one hit every hill on the map!

  2. Gail says:

    Loved every picture!

  3. So impressive! Huge climbing too well done!

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