Bike for the Cure

Bikin' the Dixie Highway for Huntington's Disease

Bike for the Cure - Bikin' the Dixie Highway for Huntington's Disease

Daily eMail – 6/08 thru 6/14

June 8, 2014

Day 2 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway” – St. Ignace to Petoskey MI

Got up at 4 a.m., dressed, ate breakfast, and loaded up the van for the drive across the Mackinaw Bridge. Three bikes on the back of my van, and Gary’s in his van. The “Fare” is $4 for a passenger vehicle across the 5 mile bridge which links the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan.

The weather report had indicated a 30% chance of rain, but it didn’t materialize, thank God.

We drove to the Hawthorne Inn where our fifth rider, Amy Mack, was waiting for us, rarin’ to get on the road. After a prayer led by Charlotte, Kathy, Amy, Gary and Gary’s driver Don left the parking lot and headed for Route 31. Charlotte and I went to buy gas for the van (23 gallons $4.09/gallon. I think that’s the most I have ever paid for gas. $93 and change). Oh my …

We drove a ways out, to get out in front of the “ast” group. Charlotte and I don’t ride fast enoughto keep up, even with our leap frog system. We followed the route of a ride I read about in the Adventure Cycling magazine. Amy was familiar with the routing, so we were set. After riding 9 miles East to the Sturgeon Bay portion of Lake Michigan, we turned  South on M 119. This route is very popular with cyclists. I think there were more bicyclists on the road than motor vehicles. Saw two major peletons of riders out on their Sunday morning “group ride.”

Although we were close to the Bay, we couldn’t see it too well because of all the trees. When I stopped to leave the van for Charlotte, I couldn’t believe the millions of mosquitos which were near the van. I sprayed myself with some “OFF” which helped. Once I started riding, it wasn’t too bad, but I have never seen so many mosquitos in my life.

Passed an interesting landmark along the way, called the Legs Inn. It was built by Stanley Smolak, a Polish immigrant, in 1921. He was an artist who used tree roots, limbs, and driftwood to carve fantastic creatures that he called “nature’s oddities.” He died in 1968 at the age of 81. The informational sign was English on one side, and Polish on the other.

Soon afterward we entered the “Tunnel of Trees” on “The Heritage Route.” Kind of like the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California, only the trees weren’t as big as the Redwoods.

Passed through a little town called good Hart. I spotted a little outdoor cabinet like structure called the “Little Free Library.” I bet you could Google that and get more information/

The scenery was unique, with forests at water’s edge. Many homes/cabins but quite a few were for sale. Passed a community called “Surfwood.” I liked that name, since it was so appropriate.

The next section was really hilly. I only went three miles. With two huge hills wich I had to walk up, I pooped out  so Charlotte took a few more miles. There were many properties with 3 rail white fences like in Kentucky, and a few golf & country clubs as well.

Came out right on the Little Traverse Bay at Harbor Springs. Got some directions for the most scenic ride the next 10 miles to Petoskey. Quiet bayside road, then a bike path paralleling the highway into Petoskey.

There were large older homes with large grass front yards facing the Bay. It seemed like each house had its own little dock. None of the docks had a boat moored there, though. Maybe too early in the season.

Petoskey is a coastal community on the LittleTraverse Bay. It’s the county seat of Emmet County. Although the name sounds Polish, the name probably is from the language of the Odawa Indians, the original inhabitants. It is said to mean “where the light shines through the clouds.” It is famous for its Petoskey stones (have to Google that, too). The city and stone  also could have been named after Chief Ignatius Petosega (1787-1885) who founded the community. Petosega’s father was a French Canadian fur trader and his mother was an Odawa (Ottawa) Indian. The elevation here is 666 feet.

We are staying in a church that is over 100 years old. It is the Emmanuel Evangelical Church, and is non-denominatiional. We met a few of the members when we arrived. They offered us some tasty leftovers from their monthly potluck.

No shower in the church. We found out there are public showers at the Magnus Park about 2 miles from here. Amy, Kathy and I drove there, with help from “Siri” in Amy’s i-phone.

Don, Gary, Amy and Kathy went out for dinner. Charlotte and I stayed in the church and worked on our e-mails. We are all sleeping in different parts of the church, which gives everyone some “space.” I’m sleeping on a couch in a back room.

The pastor of the church stopped by with his two young daughters, Charlotte and Sophia. He’s a young man, probably in his mid 30's, who grew up in this church, and then returned.

Mileage today was about 56 miles. Didn’t find any road change. In looking around as I ride, I think that Michigan is the cleanest state I’ve ridden in. No roadside trash to speak of,  just an occasiona beer/pop can.

Second full day of the ride now completed.

With love from the road, in Petoskey MI,


 June 9, 2014

Day 3 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Petoskey to Traverse City MI

Up at 4:00 a.m. after a pretty good night’s sleep. It took awhile to get us, our gear, and our bikes out to the parking lot. Wanted to leave at 6:00 a.m. but it was closer to 6:20 a.m. when we drove out of the driveway.

Last night, when going over maps, the information was conflicting. Some maps indicated close to 100 miles but some said just 70 miles. We ended up erring, deciding that 100 miles was too far, so we determined to drive to Charlevoix (which we thought was 40 miles) and start biking there. As we left Petoskey, in the two vans, we saw a sign that said “Charlevoix 17? and “Traverse City 61.” We should have stopped there, to discuss the plan,, but we kept driving, almost to Charlevoix. We finally were able to reach Kathy in Gary’s van. It was decided to drive part-way back to Petoskey and start riding the LIttle Traverse Wheelway that parallels US Highway 31.

So … Gary, Kathy, and Amy started riding from a little outside of Petoskey, and Charlotte and I drove back towards Charlevoix. Charlotte started riding, and I drove ahead to leave the van for her and start riding.

Passed though a little town called Norwood, which was founded in 1866.

We were excited to ride nearly 6 miles on a road called “Old DIxie Highway.” Very little vehicle traffic. Lots of farms in the area, and little roadside stands which had an honor system for payment.

Got onto US 31 and went towards Torch Lakeis on an isthmus between Torch Lake and the Grand Traverse Bay. Very scenic area, with homes amidst huge trees. Charlotte was riding, and I was driving the van. When I came around one corner, I saw a vulture on a fence post! At first, I thought it was a statue, but then it moved!

Passed through Kewadin, just a wide spot inthe road. Then through Elk Rapids. Charlotte and I met up there, and had our lunch in the shade of some big trees. She had her typical peanut butter/lettuce sandwich, and I had a Premier Protein drink.

I stopped at a taxidermy, curio, etc shop along the way. Their ad outside indicated that they sold “Petoskey stones,” and since I didn’t know what they look like, I stopped and went in. These  grayish stones  are found on the beach, which have a mottled pattern somethinglike a turtle’s shell. Often, they are polished and cut into certain shapes like an Indian head, the state of Michigan, fish … whatever. So now you know.Stayed on US 31 through Acme, then got on the TART Trail. Not sure what TART stands for, maybe Traverse Area something.

Traverse city is named after the Grand Traverse Bay. French voyagers made “la grande traverse” or “the long crossing” across the mouth of the GrandTraverse Bay. The originsgoback to 1847 with the beginnings of a sawmill. Originally they wanted the city to be called “Grand Traverse City,” but it was shortened to “Traverse City” by the U.S. Post Office. It is located ner the 45th parallel, so they have warm, mild summers and severe winters. They also have lake-effect snowfall, which averages 80? a year.

Traverse City is the county seat of Grand Traverse County. It is the largest city in the 21 county Northern Michigan region. Traverse City has a couple of nicknames: “T.C., “The Cherry Capital of the World, Cherryland, and The Coast Guard City. Take your pick, I guess. It is famous for being the largest producer of cherries in the United States. The city holds the annual week long National Cherry Festival the first full week of July. Grapes are also produced in the surrounding countryside, and is one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest. Traverse City is quite varied, with freshwater beaches, vineyards, a National Lakeshore, downhill skiing areas, and numerous forests. In 2009, Traverse City was named the number two small town travel destination in the US (wonder what the #1 is ). U.S. News listed T.C. as among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S.

We are staying in a large Presbyterian Church, in the youth room. Lots of couches to sleep on. No shower in the church, so everyone but Charlotte drove to the YMCA. Talked them into free showers since we are on a charity ride. When we drove down the driveway, there was a family of geese  with two adults and four goslings out for a walk. So cute!

Gary, Don, Kathy, and Amy went out for dinner. Don is leaving tomorrow to go back to Columbus. It’s been great having him drive Gary’s van, but when he leaves we will just have my van hauling all the gear.

Deb Boyd, the Regional Coordinator for HDSA, Jen Lewis and her son and daughter, stopped by the church to thank us for what we’re doing. Jenn puts on the Team Hope Walk in Traverse City.

Mileages today were varied. I rode 26.3, Charlotte rode 29.49, Amy rode 50, and Gary and Kathy both rode 72. No road change.

With love from the road,


June 10, 2014

Day 4 – Bikin’ the Dixie Highway – Traverse City to Manistee MI


Today was a transitional day. Gary’s friend Don, who had been driving Gary’s van, had to head back to Columbus. We had to store gear for all five of us in the cargo area of our van.

Although we try to be on the bikes by 6:00 a.m., that didn’t happen this morning. It was more like 6:40 a.m. I drove the van to start while Gary, Amy, Kathy, and Charlotte rode four miles on the TART bikepath. We are going an alternative way to US31 because of Amy’s aversion to riding on busier highways. She was involved in a biking accident a few years ago, so do understand, but I should have planned differently. We managed to find an alternative route, but it added about 18 more miles. Great Michigan scenery, though.

These “backroads” are usually pretty hilly, and this was no exception. Amy, Gary, and Kathy are strong riders, so they do fine. I’m the wimpy one.

A deer ran across the road in front of me, when I was driving the way. I think Gary, Amy, and Kathy saw another one too.

We followed M-22 much of the day. It was one of the 10 best routes I’ve ever been on. Slightly downhill, smooth wide shourlder,  I have never seen so many trees in my life than I have in Michigan.

I was finally able to see a Michigan lighthouse. Did you know that Michigan has the most lighthouses of any US state? That is because four of the five Great Lakes touch Michigan. Lots of Coast Guard stations too. I turned off of M-22 and drove out about 1/2 mile  to the Point Betsie lighhouse. The lighthouse itself was white painted brick, with a Cape Cod style adjoining house. Red roof, green walls. It wasn’t very tall either.

I had been meaning to comment on the fact that Michigan doesn’t seem to use mile markers like we do in Colorado.

Charlotte and I stopped to eat lunch in Frankfort. Gary, Amy, and Kathy ate somewhere else, not sure. They were reommended to try a place famous for its milkshakes. The Pastor from the Presbyterian Church in Traverse City gave us 7 veggie wraps that were left over from a graduation party on Sunday. They were very good, even as left-overs.

Continued on M-22. Stopped at the Inspiration Point Scenic Turnout where we spent about 45 minutes visiting with other tourists. There was an observation deck where you could look back to see the lighthouse at Frankfort.

Lots of big hills through this area. The downhills are fun, but it’s a real grind getting up those hills. One was called Watermelon Hill. Went through Onekama which bills itself as “a two lake town, with Lake Michigan and Lake Portage.

I had been in contact with a young man from the newspaper in Manistee; his name is Eric. He came out and shot some pictures of us riders. One should be in tomorrow’s Manistee newspaper.

Finally got to the United Methodist Church which is hosting us tonight. Another pretty big church. The Praise Team was practicing in the early evening. They were pretty good, and it lifted my spirits. I’m pretty tired tonight.

A bit about Manistee. It’s the County Seat for Maistee County. Its name is from th Ojibwe word first applied to a principl river of the country. The derivation is not certain, but it may be from “ministigweyaa”, meaning “a river with islands at its mouth.” Other sources claim that it was an Ojibwe term meaning “spirit of the woods,” Jesuit missionaries came to the area in 1826. There were a number of Ottawa villages and reservations. The first permanent Euro-American settlement was made in 1841 when John Stronach and his son Adam arrived in Manistee with men and equipment to establish a saw mill.  In its heyday, Manistee was home to a booming logging industry. In the late 19th century, Manistee was one of the leading shingle manufacturing cities in the world, with over 30 shingle mills on the river. During the lumber boom of the 1800's, Manistee had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the US. Manistee is also associated with the salt industry. It is now the home of three factories on Lake Manistee: Packaging Corporation of America,  Morton Salt, and Martin Marietta.  Tourism and fishing round out the local businesses.

I understand there is a lighthouse at the mouth of the Manistee River. Didn’t see it today, but plan to drive out there tomorrow morning before I start driving the van towards Montague.

Today’s mileage ended up at 85 miles, which was ridden by Gary, Amy, and Kathy. I rode 28.36 miles. Charlotte is out visiting a former student of hers so I can’t ask her right now. Probably in the high 30's.

With love from the road,


June 11, 2014

Day 5 – “Bikin’ the Dixie HIghway for HD” – Manistee to Montague MI

The weatherman had predicted rain, and sure enough, it showed up just as we were packing up our gear and getting ready to ride. It really was just a drizzle. Gary, Charlotte, Amy, and Kathy took off on another “back roads” route. I went to find copies of the Manistee News Advocate newspaper  to get a 5 copies, since we were promised we’d be front page news, and we were!!! Two photos. Here is the link to their website on line. Eric Sagonowsky, one of the staff writers, did a good job on the story content and the three photos.

While stopped on the road,Gary asked Amy, Kathy, and me to sing “Happy Birthday” on his cell phone, to his lovely wife Barbara. In the last few years, Gary hasn’t been home with her, but he is very thoughtful. He told her where to look to find her present. Isn’t that sweet?

When I caught up with the riders, I found out that Amy had a flat on the rear tire. By then, it was pouring rain. She wanted to put in a new tube without all the rain. So … we loaded up her carbon fiber Giant brand bike, and drove down the road, looking for a suitable place. I spotted a driveway with a sign for “Mom/Pop Grocery” and other businesses, so we drove back on the driveway and found a lean-to with a table saw under it, so we thought that would be a good place. As we were working on the tire, a young man came walking up, so we explained who we are and what we were doing. His name is Michael and he was very polite and wanted to help. We gave him a ride brochure which he read. He even took our picture with both his i-phone and Amy’s as well. Amy and I made a good team, and it didn’t take too long and we were set to go.

Drove back to the road, and caught up with the group. We were about 14 miles down the road from Manistee. I just didn’t want to ride in the rain, and knew I needed to be free to help everyone with the van. Charlotte and I were both in the van for awhile, then she was ready to ride, as we approached Luddington. Got a call from Amy that she was done riding for the day, and she wanted me to pick her up. So I got Charlotte and drove to pick up Amy. The three of us spent the rest of the day supporting Gary and Kathy, who were determined to ride the whole way. They were just drenched, but kept on keepin’ on, peddlng away.

Would you believe it? While they were still at least 30 miles from Manatee, Kathy got a flat on her front tire! Charlotte volunteered her bike “Annie” to Kathy. Despite the difference in height (Charlotte is about 5’1? and Kathy is maybe 5’7?) Kathy did just fine on the small frame bike. We loaded up Kathy’s bike and off we went, trying to lead Gary and Kathy through Ludington, and down to Lake Shore Drive.

Ludington is a charming town.The town was originally named Pere Marquette, then later named after the industrialist James Ludington, whose logging operations the village built up around. By 1892, 162 million board feet (382,000 m³) of lumber and 52 million wood shingles had been produced by the Ludington sawmills. With all of this commerce occurring, Ludington became a major Great Lakes shipping port. There is a ferry that runs from Manitowoc Wisconsin to Luddington MI, across Lake Michigan, a distance of 60 miles. By the mid-1950s, Ludington had become the largest car ferry port in the world. Unfortunately, due to disuse and declining industry, this fleet eventually dwindled. Currently only one car ferry, the SS Badger, makes regular trips across the lake from Ludington, one of only two lake-crossing car ferries on Lake Michigan. The ferry trip takes 4 hours. I saw the S.S Badger, a huge ferry boat! It’s 410 feet long. It can accommodate 620 passengers and up to 180 vehicles. That would be a fun trip, I think.

Saw my second Michigan lighthouse, the North Breakwater Lighthouse.

Once we got Gary and Kathy on the right route, we drove back to Luddington to get some lighthouse postcards, get Charlotte some leg straps to hold her pants legs in position, and get a little food at the Trader Joe type of grocery store.

The last 20 miles of the ride were on the Hart-Montague  Trail, away from traffic. Gary and Kathy reported that the trail was pretty rough surface wise. We met thm at the end of the trail in Montague. They each rode 78 miles, most of which was in the rain. Talk about determined, strong riders! My hat goes off to them!

We are staying at the St. James Lutheran Church in Montague. We have a separate building to ourselves, the youth building. As is typical, the church is up on a hill (in this case, maybe a bluff) which Gary and Kathy braved after a full day riding.

Amy and I fixed Kathy’s flat front tire while Kathy and Gary were still out riding. We make a pretty good team!

A bit about Montague. The city was named by Noah Ferry, to honor his father, William Montague Ferry. William Ferry founded the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg. Sadly, Noah Ferry died fighting for the Union in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Montague is home to the “World’s Largest Working Weathervane” which was constructed inpart by local manufacturer Whitehall Metal Studios. The weathervane is topped by the Ella Ellenwood, a lumbering Schooner that frequented White Lake transporting lumber from Montague to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ship became infamous after it sank in a storm in 1901, and the wooden nameplate of the schooner floated back to the shores of the City of Montague, where it was found in 1902. Many people believed that the boat was coming home, and as a result the ship is frequently associated with the city.

Another interesting fact. Nancy Fleming, Miss America 1961, is from Montague. I remember two rides (2000 and 2007) through Laverne OK which  is the hometown of Jayne Jayroe, Miss America in 1967.

Another day under our belts. So far the route has been 345 miles in 5 days.

With love from the road,

June 12, 2014

Day 6 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Montague to Grand Rapids MI


This morning was a little different. After getting all the gear loaded up, it seemed best for me to start riding, and Charlotte drive the van to start. Weather was pretty foggy.

Kathy and Amy had planned out yet another day primarily on bike trails.  We got back on the tail end of the Hart – Montague Trail, but it was really foggy, and signs (if they were there) were’t visible. We then went on to the Fred Meijer Berry Junction Trail for awhile then went out to Whitehall Road to ride. Charlotte was waiting for me in the van about 12.5 miles into the ride. We had decided not to ride in Muskegon, so we drove to the Trailhead for the Musketawa Trail. Drove by an MDOT office and picked up more maps for the area we are in now. During this process I realized my heart had gone into atrial fibrillation. I had neglected to take my new heart med at 8:00 a.m. and it was 9:40 a.m. Got Charlotte on her way riding SE on the trail, and then I took my heart med and the one that gets me out of a-fib. I wasn’t feeling too well.

As a side note, this area is famous for its fruit production. Due to its close proximity to Lake MIchigan the climte is considered prime for apple, peach, and blueberry farming.

Drove East paralleling the Musketawa Trail, to Ravenna. I napped in the van until Charlotte showed up on her bike. Usually, we would make a switch of who was riding, and who was driving, but I wasn’t up to riding. So she continued to ride the rest of the way to the end of the Trail (total distance of the trai is about 21 miles). Again, I napped in the van until Charlotte arrived. My heartrate was back to normal, so I felt I could ride again. I rode the Musketawa White Pine Trail Connector then some surface streets all the way to the church. Passed the distribution center for Meijer and also the factory for Bissell (more on that later.) Finally got to the Wallin Congregational Church where Kathy’s mother and sister were by the church sign, welcoming us!!!

Nice church, large, so we all spread out in our own space. Gary, Amy, and I drove into downtown Grand Rapids to shower at the YMCA.  Came back to the church. They had prepared some leftover BBQ for us, which they served with dill pickles, potato chips, cake, and drinks. Very thoughtful!

Charlotte is going out to dinner with a niece and her family who live near Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids is locatd on the Grand River about 25 miles east of Lake Michigan. It is the county seat of Kent County. It is the second largest city in Michigan and the largest city in Western Michigan. It is an historic furniture-manufacturing  center, and is nicknamed “Furniture City.” Its more common modern nickname is “River City” (like in “Musc Man.”) The city and surrounding communities are economically diverse, and contribute heavily to the health care, information technology, automotive, aviation, and consumer goods manufacturing industries.

Native Americans lived here originally. Europeans started settling the area in the early 1800's.  Missionaries and fur traders were the first Europeans. A number of different men were involved in the founding roots, during the 1830's.In 1880, the first hydro-electric generator in the US was put into use on the city’s west side. Grand Rapids was also an early participant in the automotive industry, serving as home to the Austin Automobile Company from 1901 until 1921. Interestingly, in 1945 Grand Rapids became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water.

As indicated earlier, Grand Rapids has long been a center for furtniture, automobile, and aviation manufacturing; American Seating, Steelcase, Haworth and Herman Miller are all major manufacturers of office furniture. GE Aviation Systems is also located here.

The Grand Rapids area is home to a number of well known companies that include: Alticor/Amway, Bissell, Highlight Industries (an industlry leader in stretch wrap equipment), Spartan Stores, Foremost Insurance Company, Meijer (a regional supercenter chain), Wolverine World Wide (shoes, boots, and clothing), MCSports,Universal Forest Products, and Schuler Books & Music.

It would be a real omission not to include Zondervan Baker Books, KregelPublications, Eerdmansl Publishing, and Family Christian Stores, who are headquartered here.

Grand Rapids is also the home of many Health Care Companies. Spectrum Health is the largest employer in West Michigan with 16,000 staff and 1,500 physicians. Grand Rapids has the “Medical Mile” which has world-class facilities focusing on the health sciences. These facilities include the Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Valley State University’s Cook-De Vos Center for Health Sciences, and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicinemedical school’s Secchia Center.

In 2010 Grand Rapids was named the “most sustainable midsize city in the U.S.” by the U.S. Chmber of Commerce Civic Leadership Center and Siemans Corporation. Grand Rapids was chosen over finalist cities of Davenport, IA and Hoover, Alabama. In 2014, Grand Rapids was ranked as the number one city for real estate investment.

I need to mention the Christian Reformed Church in North America. There is a large memership in Grand Rapids. The Reformed Church in America has a large presence here, as well as the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.

Grand Rapids is the center of the 3rd Congressional District, and  is currently represented by libertarian Republican Justin Amash. Former President Gerald Ford represented the District from 1949 – 1973. He is buried on the grounds of his Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids as is his wife Betty.

The length of today’s ride was 62.5 miles, mostly on bike trails. Kathy, Amy, and Gary rode the entire distance. I rode 22.18 of that. Charlotte isn’t here to ask how much she rode, but probably 22-25.

Again, no road change.

Here it is Thursday. In a week, we plan to be at the Convention Hotel in Louisville. “Miles to go before I sleep” so I’m going to sign off for now and get some sleep.

Ron will be gone to Steamboat Springs for Cael’s 4th birthday, Father’s Day, and Ron’s 72nd birthday. We don’t have a laptop computer, so am not sure if the next three days of Daily Messages will get out in a timely fashion. So don’t worry, and hope you’re not too disappointed.

With love from the road,


June 13, 2014

Day 7 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway” – Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo MI

Last morning with the five of us. Got everything loaded up, Kathy said our prayer, and Amy lead us out of the grounds of the Congregational Church. It was a good stay!

Lots of turns to work the way down to the Kent Trail. I was driving the van since Charlotte was riding. Met them part-way to the trail. Gary had taken a tumble on some gravel and had a bit of road rash on his right leg. They rode the Kent Trail (8 miles). and I drove South to meet them at the Southern Trailhead. Amy and Gary had gone to McDonalds, but Kathy and Charlotte were there in the parking lot when I arrived with the van. Everyone finally got started again about 9:45 a.m.

The weather was cloudy and windy  I rode wearing my soccer ball jacket; it was probably no more than 50 degrees.

We followed A45 Allegany County Road which parallels  US Hwy 131 on the East side.. Gary, Amy, and Kathy followed some back roads on the West side which Google bicycle maps but then decided to  ride A45 after thet ran into some gravel roads. We all converged between Wayland and Martin in the parking lot of a large industrial building. We were set up eating a fastastic  lunch that was supplied by Charlotte’s niece Diane. Then a big semi pulled in, and we had to move everything because the driver had to back his trailer up to the loading dock. Eventually A45 turned into Douglas Street South of Plainwell. I rode the last segment to D Road. Charlotte didn’t want to ride any more, and she does not do well driving and navigating herself. I could have ridden a bit more to reach 30 miles today but I don’t like to put Charlotte in that position.  Charlotte was dozing off and on so I navigated/drove into Kalamazoo to Amy’s home.

We weren’t there 10 minutes before a delivery van pulled up and the driver brought 3 bundles of about 10 baloons (red, white, and blue) for Amy’s birthday tomorrow (which is Flag Day.)

Gary and Amy arrived about 3:30 p.m. Kathy had peeled off and rode to her home,

The van was due for an oil changed so I took care of that while the others were showerrig and starting the laundry. However Gary discovered that the pipe was clogged, and  Amy had to call Roto Rooter. She also was hosting a meet ‘n greet gathering for the HD Support Group in Kalamazoo. For awhile, we couldn’t even use the toilet!

Lovely gathering. Sara Boers (facilitator of the Support Group and a Lundbeck representative) had everyone introduce themselves etc. Great people and great food! Even sold a few ride t-shirts.

Now for the trivia about Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo was originally known as “Bronson,” after the founder of the township of Arcadia, Titus Bronson, but in 1836  the name was changed to Kalamazoo. It comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. Back then, the Kalamazoo River was known in French as “La riviere Kikanamaso.” Legend has it that”Ki-kama-sung” meant “boiling water,” referring to a footrace held each fall by Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means “the mirage or reflecting river.’ Yet another legend is that the image of boiling water” referred to fog on the river, as seen from the hills above the current downtown, This name “Kalamazoo” sounds unusual to English-speaking ears. It has become a metonym/for exotic places, as in the phrase “from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo.” Probably the most famous and first use was “(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo” written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and recorded by the Glenn Miller band with Tex Benecke.

The Demonym (name for people from a certain city) is “Kalamazooan” (like people from Los Angeles are  “Angelenos.”).

Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, a large public university (where Amy is on staff), and Kalamazoo college (a liberal arts school). It was the original home of Gibson guitars, from 1902 into the 1980's, when the electric division moved to Nashville Tennessee  and the Acoustic Division moved to Bozeman Montana.

Kalamazoo is equidistant from two larger American cities, Chicago and Detroit. Both are less than 150 miles from Kalamazoo.

The Stryker Corporatiion is based in Kalamazoo and makes surgical and medical equipment. I remember reading in an autobiography of Joni Earickson Tada that she was confined to a Striker Frame bed after her spinal injury.

Kalamazoo was the headquarters of the Checker Motors Company, which also stamped sheet metal parts for other auto manufaturers. Checker closed in June 2009, a victim of the late 2000s recession.

A new Medical School is opening in August 2014 under Western Mchigan University School of Medicine and Kalamazoo’s two teaching hospitals, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcre.

Last but not least, the first outdoor pedestrian shopping malll in the US was created, closing part of Burdick Street to auto traffic. The first enclosed shopping mall was also created in Kalamazoo in 1956.

The mileage of the route was 62.5 which was ridden by Gary, Amy, and Kathy. I rode 24 miles, and  Charlotte rode 27 miles.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Michigan. I have seen alot of Michigan in the  9 days we spent here.
It’s a beautiful state.

Road change: 35 cents

With love from the road,


June 14, 2014

Day 8 – “Bikin’ the Dixie Highway for HD” – Kalamazoo MI to South Bend IN


It felt strange this morning to have just three of us getting ready to ride. Amy made us a nice breakfast of  orange juice, scrambled eggs and toast. After our group prayer, she then lead us out for about two miles to avoid travel on Stadium Drive. She took us to 12th Street which was also the Portage Bike Route. Fond farewells and hugs. We will miss her!

Went through a town called Lawton. It has a Welch’s  juice factory plant there, right beside the raillroad track.

Compared to some of the days, this routing was pretty easy. A few “back country” roads, through vineyards, orchards, and farm country. Finally made it to the M-51 which we followed for most of the day. When I got to where Charlotte had left the van, I found Wayne from last night’s HD gathering! Pleasant surprise! His wife Gay is a cousin to Sara Boer’s husband Craig. He was driving to Decatur to get some supplies, so I told him to watch for Charlotte down the road, so he could say hello.

The M-51 is part of the Old Dixie Highway all the way to the state line. Then in Indiana it is 933.

Rode through Dowagiac, which had a Civil WarStatue Memorial in a park. There must be a fair amount of Native Americans in that area, because I saw  signs on buildings for Indian Health Services for the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi Indians. Dowagiac is also the home of Southwest Michigan College.

Gary, Charlotte and I ate lunch (still working on the wonderful food that Diane provided).

Continued to head South towards Niles, which is included in the area called “Michiana,” a combination word describing the border area between Indiana and Michigan. I recall another border area like that six years ago when Charlotte and I were doing our “Cycle the Heartland” ride for HD. It was called “Illiana” representing Illinois and Indiana.

Lots of oil change shops, lots of groups of youths doing car washes, car dealerships, and fireworks stands. Saw a Shake ‘n Steak restaurant. I remember eating in one in St. Louis with Sherri Kole, her mom Marge Ellison, and her Aunt Louise Lutin.

I totally missed the sign that said “Welcome to Indiana.” The transition was seamless.  Drove bythe St.  Mary’s College (run by the Roman Catholic order of nuns called the Sisters of the Holy Cross) and the Holy Cross College at Notre Dame (run by the Brothers). Finallly got to the Downtown of South Bend. I didn’t see anything distinctive, just big, mostly older buildings. I felt blessed that we were coming into Downtown on a mid-afternoon Saturday. Not much traffic.

South Bend … if you follow football or women’s basketball, you know it’s the home of Notre Dame University, the home of the “Fightin’ Irish,” with a leprechaun as a mascot.

South bend is the fourth largest city in Indiana. Native Americans long occupied this area. It was popular because it was the shortest overand route to portage their canoes to the Kankakee River. This route was first used by the Native Americans, then by French explorers, missionaries, and fur traders. South Bend is located on the St. Joseph River.   Father Edward Sorin founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842.

Many businesses from the past used to call South Bend Home. The Singer Sewing Machine Company, Bendix, Honeywell, and Studebaker all used to be in South Bend. Henry Studebaker set up a wagon shop in 1852, later becoming the world’s largest wagon builder and the only one to later succeed as an automobile manufacturer. Due to economic difficulties, Studebaker closed its automotive manufacturing plants in South Bend in December 1963.  (I remember my Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary McCaffrey having a Studebaker backin the 1950's.)

South Bend benefitted from its location on the Michigan Road, which evolved into part of the Dixie Highway. We’ll be on another portion tomorrow from South Bend to Logansport IN.

Route today was 70 miles. I rode 31 and Charlotte rode 40. I had an extra mile getting “lost” near the Welch’s Plant.

Found just a penny today. Slim pickins.

With love from the road,


  • Sara Boers says:

    All of you are AWESOME and what determined riders! I love reading the journal and also Charlotte’s emails she’s sending. I feel like I’m right there with you as I’m familiar with a lot of the area you have ridden through. I look forward to the next days recap. I’m praying for safe biking and look forward to seeing everyone in Kalamazoo on Friday.

    June 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm
  • brenda allen says:

    Enjoy reading about your travels.
    Thank you for your dedication.

    June 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

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