Vernon, Michigan 66-Miler On Fantastic, Scenic Paved Country Roads
This is the best part of our Sunday morning Route as published on Cycling Michigan
For this, spectacular ride, park at the Spring Street Park in downtown Vernon and be prepared to ride some fantastic, paved country roads. About 30 miles in, stop in the town of Elsie for a break and visit Perx & Pastries for some outstanding treats. Whatever their blueberry cake is made with, the icing is phenomenal. 17 miles later you’ll be able to stop in Laingsburg for an ice-cold drink at the local Citgo gas station. This quickly became a local favorite route – I can’t recommend it highly enough.
If this is your first go around, you must read the “How To” and Disclaimer first, (here)
The route is on Strava (here)
The route is on Ride with GPS (here)
No Matter How Hard I Train, A Century Still Hurts…
I’d managed to cut all the grass, by sheer determination and want to, Saturday afternoon. We’d ridden just shy of 100k and I really wanted a decent nap but we had another cool metric century planned for Sunday and I figured I’d be tired Sunday afternoon after our second in a row. No sense in leaving some for Sunday so I powered through it.
Then Chuck texted Saturday afternoon… I’ll give you the important parts:
“I think I’m goin for 100 tomorrow” Then, “Lemme know. No pressure of course”
I wrote back that I’d check with my wife and get back with him… and fell asleep before she ever got home.
After my wife woke up to her alarm Sunday morning, we had that conversation and I texted Chuck I’d meet him on the road.
And so it was.
We rolled out under perfect cycling conditions. Barely a breeze, slightly under room temperature, and fair skies. I’d calculated our route to get to the meeting spot using Maps which said 18 miles. The goal was to chill on the way over, but we couldn’t chill much if we were going to make it on time. I pushed the pace… just to find out it was only 17 miles. With a 19.5-mph pace we were there ten minutes early.
Diane laid out a course that would highlight some of Mid-Michigan’s wheat fields before the harvest this week for Sunday Funday. It was supposed to be a long track, though, around 65 miles, so my wife and I opted for single bikes in lieu of the tandem (that’s just a little too much tandem right there).
I don’t know how far in we were when we hit our first wheat field, but that’s it. Those are, I believe, sandhill cranes in the background.
Greg, you can barely see him at the front on the right, established the “no pull” lane for anyone who wanted to sit in. It filled quickly. Diane asked me to take the spot directly behind Greg because I cast a bit more of a shadow than he does, and third bike is usually better than second. And so it was for probably 20 miles at 20 to 21-mph… into the breeze. I don’t know how Greg does it.
We rolled into the town of Elsie, out in the middle of nowhere, and stopped at a renowned coffee shop downtown. The shop owner, one of the kindest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, filled our water bottles. In turn, we bought some snacks for which we paid a little extra. I was a little bummed we didn’t have time to stay for breakfast – the place smelled amazing.
My wife started having mechanical issues on the final stretch heading home. At first we though it was the front derailleur cable slipping but it ended up being the crank loosening (!). I made the necessary repairs to get her rolling again but her front shifting was fairly pooched. It was going to take some work later on. I got everything squared away enough using Chuck’s simple Allen wrench set (thank GOD he carries that!) that my wife could hobble back using the big ring – she wouldn’t be able to use the little, but we were on a flat route and on the home stretch.
The route ended up shorter than was intended but nobody was complaining. We rolled into the parking lot right at 19-mph, faster than we should have done. Fast enough I actually felt bad. I should have done something to rein the pace.
I had other things to worry about, though. Chuck and I still had 23 miles to go… and I wasn’t feeling all that awesome. Still, we had tailwind almost all the way home. How bad could it be?
At 85 miles I wanted to lay down in the ditch and take a nap. At 95 miles I actually contemplated doing that. At 98 I just wanted to go home… as we passed my home because we were only at 98 miles. I was going to complete a 4 mile loop and drop Chuck at his house but a mile up the road I told him I was turning around to take my toy home. I’d had enough. I pulled into the driveway with 100.11 miles and I was a shade over “medium” (in steak parlance).
From there, the rest of the day was a flurry of activity and I never did get a good nap in. I was present, if a little cranky, at a board meeting for the bicycle club, cooked dinner, and had one of those talks fathers dread with their daughter and wife. Not that talk, but bad enough.
I fell asleep on the couch watching Mission Impossible: Fallout.
It’s going to be an interesting week. Fortunately, I have everything I need to meet any challenge I might face. This is one of the many reasons I continue to work a program of recovery…