With Day Three’s win for me, after having perfectly timed the downhill sprint for the Boyne City city limits sign, Day Four was the procession to Mackinaw City. We’d decided Chuck had the Green Jersey for effort. Doug had the Gray Jersey for fastest Old Fart. Chad just barely nicked Sue for the climbing Polka-dot Jersey, but Sue whooped ass for the Red, Heart Jersey. Randy secured the Black, Diesel Jersey, and Todd claimed the Okra Rippling Muscles Jersey.
After the chippy first and second days, I’d hoped we would split into two groups again, but it didn’t work out that way. We decided to stay together. My wife was rolling out with us anyway, and she couldn’t have ridden in both groups and we can’t split her up… and I wasn’t going to ride with any group that didn’t include her, so staying together and treating the day like a procession to the finish with no worries about average pace worked best.
The climb out of Boyne City, at least as southern Michigan goes, is as epic as they get at about two-miles long. It wasn’t terribly steep but was enough to get me sweating by the time we hit the top in the 53° (11 C) sunny fresh air. Then, the winding rollers around Walloon Lake and the entrance to Seven Sisters. Doug was a little giddy, I think.
I wasn’t prepared for the first climb. The hill loomed as you came around a corner, looking a lot like The Wall. I quickly downshifted to the appropriate gear and made short work of the climb, commenting at the top, “I like The Wall a lot more early in the morning”. The rest of the rollers were a blast. DALMAC hasn’t done that part of the route in years because the roads are a little chewed up and there’s one corner where, if the wind is blowing the right way, a hairpin corner gets blown-over with sand – and that had been the case before we went through. “Scary” doesn’t quite do it justice, and a car went through right after me, squeezing those behind me even tighter through the corner. One mistake by a rider on that corner and it’d be a catastrophe. Still, good God, was it fun.
Once through the Seven Sisters, we were on to Petosky, then to my favorite stretch of the weekend, Harbor Springs. If anything says “Michigan”, it’s the stretch through Harbor Springs. I simply can’t ride fast down that road. It’d be a waste of scenery. The houses are majestic and the beach, gorgeous. The tunnel of trees is great, but Harbor Springs is simply breathtaking.
We stopped at the bike shop in town, as is usual, but they decided to stop giving out food, turning it into a restroom break only. I fired down a banana I’d been carrying quickly, used the portable facilities and we rolled out. The climb out of Harbor Springs is another great one that I enjoy, but the baby ring is an absolute necessity. There’s 350′ of up in three relatively short hills.
Shortly after is the drop onto 119, also known as the Tunnel of Trees along Lake Michigan, I decided to put away my phone/camera when the pace picked up. The initial decent is a real burner – cars can’t keep up with bikes on the way down and we typically have one or two in the group touch 50-mph. Sadly, we had a car in the way so our top speed only barely edged over 40-mph. I also had a change of heart. This year, rather than snap a bunch of photos throughout the six mile charge to Goodhart, I decided to hammer it out with my friends, getting technical on the corners and making the most of downhills to drive through the uphill sections. It’s such a beautiful stretch, I hated to not take it all in, but my God was it fun to hammer that section. It was worth having to pocket the camera.
Lunch in Goodhart is a special treat on its own. Everything is excellent, but I prefer their burgers and the chicken noodle soup. I also had a cinnamon twist that was absolutely spectacular (so much so I actually hugged the woman who made them), and another Coke. After lunch, we didn’t wait around much but found that a few had taken off early (they must have eaten fast). We mounted up and rolled with that awesome tailwind…
The final 30 miles of the day is always exceptionally fast. With a tailwind, it’s outrageous. We held between 23 and 30-mph the whole way – our average was easily 21-mph, probably higher. I was still able to take some photos along the way.
Before long, though, we were hammering down the home stretch and I knew it was up to me to take the sprint so I could win DALMAC (this is tongue in cheek, of course – there is no winner, ever. No matter what anyone thinks or, more accurately, wishes). Coming down the main stretch, there’s a downhill before a little flat and then a slight rise into the Mackinaw City High School. A quarter-way down the slope I put the hammer down and took the speed beyond 36-mph (58 km/h). I looked back as the street sloped up a bit and I was all alone. By a lot. I cruised into the parking lot with another DALMAC under my cap.
This was an interesting one for me. The first two days were utter catastrophes. The last two were so spectacular, they made up for the previous problems. I had a blast this year and truly can’t wait till 2020.
It’ll be the 50th Anniversary.
Due to an interesting twist, my wife’s best friend from way back came into town from Seattle. She drove my car up to walk the bridge the next day. I took my car, loaded the rack up with our bikes, and took Matt and Doug home.
We talked and told stories the whole way, even through dinner. There were struggles early on, and I’ll have a lot to work on for next year, as expectations go, but in the end, this year’s DALMAC will be remembered as one of my favorites.