It’s a beautiful day for math!

It is a perfect day. Too bad the century ride is tomorrow. The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you…wait,

The title comes from the kids’ algebra teacher. I rode past him on the footbridge on the way home from the co-op, buying supplies for the camping weekend…

As I set up camp, the front blew in. The sky turned dark and the wind kicked up. The temperature began dropping. I closed up the tent before going to Sister Bay to pick up my ride packet. The threatened rain (whose chances and number of hours forecast kept shrinking as the week wore on) never came, but it will be a cool ride tomorrow. I’ll be getting up at the usual time for work due to a 7 AM start two towns up the road from here. Carbo-loading tonight with pumpkin tortelloni covered in pesto I made this morning.

I got up in the dark, normal at home but a little different when camping. Breakfast and coffee and off to Sister Bay at 6:20. First decision – what to wear. The temperature was in the low 50s (11 C), with a forecast high in the mid 60s (18 C) and it wouldn’t get to 60 (15 C) for a few hours. I opted for a long sleeve jersey, figuring it would be good all day, and shorts, figuring they’d be chilly at first but the right choice later. In a variation on the old bike racer trick of stuffing newspapers down the front of the jersey, I used the plastic bag we got our swag in. No ink on your chest, and no peeling off the disintegrating newspaper when you sweat through it. I needed that for the first 25 miles. My knees were cold in the morning and the sun felt pretty good when we were in it.

I avoided the mass start, not liking anything with “mass” in it these days. I rode out with someone I would see off and on all day. We started at a comfortably slow pace. The other advantage to avoiding the mass start is avoiding the adrenaline rush of the big crowd, which makes me ride faster than I should with 100 miles ahead of me.

At the 28 mile rest stop they served brats – only in Wisconsin (at 9 AM). I passed. A few miles on, I saw topiary in the shape of a camel. I wanted to stop and take a picture, but there were barking dogs on the other side of the fence. I figured they’d go nuts at someone stopping right outside their gate. It didn’t matter, since 100 yards later I came upon a couple of real camels grazing.

Camels? in Wisconsin?

At 46 miles I was hoping for some substantial food, but there were only melons, donut holes, and cookies. I noticed I was riding faster than I intended to, so I thought I’d slow down a bit to save strength for the end. A few miles on from there, R from Milwaukee rode up beside me. I had seen him coming and figured he’d pass me, but he settled in and started talking. The next 15 miles flew by – both because I don’t notice them while chatting, and because we were riding faster than I intended.

At mile 64 his family was waiting to meet him. After saying hi to them we started off with 5 more of his friends we met at the rest stop. From there to the mile 80 rest stop was easy going as a result. At that stop, all the talk was about the big hill coming up.

We hit that hill at 85 miles. It was pretty much like the average sort of hill we climb several of on every local ride. The Milwaukee crew disappeared behind me on the way up. I didn’t see them again. At mile 90 I talked to a couple of Ironmen (I don’t know why we don’t call a woman who completes one of those an “Ironwoman”, but we don’t.) I didn’t plan to keep up with her or her partner. They hadn’t done our local Ironman last week, but were planning two others this fall. This was just a warmup.

The miles were starting to take their toll after that as we rode into a headwind. A group of about 8 passed me with 6 miles to go. As they were young enough to be my children, I wasn’t tempted to try to keep up, even though it would have helped with the headwind. Miraculously, they did not disappear up the road and I followed them into Sister Bay after 101 miles and 6 hours and 6 minutes in the saddle. I had expected it to take 7 hours. The free beer was a welcome sight. Even better, they had several choices – all from One Barrel Brewing. It was a perfect day for the Oktoberfest while wading in Green Bay.

It was, by the way, a great ride – well-organized, through beautiful country, and less crowded than the more famous ride up here a week ago (which I did once and will now avoid). In a week, we’ll see if I can do it again (though close enough to home to sleep in my own bed).

So long, Mom…

I’m off to drop the bomb, so don’t wait up for me. Some of Tom Lehrer’s lyrics may have gone over my ten year old head, but that one struck home. I thought of it as I rode off from our campsite this morning, not sure when I’d be back.

While Gil Scott-Heron told us the revolution will not be televised, Lehrer let us know that WW III could be shown in prime time and be over before we went to bed.

There was no plan. I headed north (north ¿!?¡?!) as I left the park. I figured I’d check out the lookout tower that was under construction a year ago when I was here. After that…? I used my usual road hierarchy – town roads (named), then county roads (lettered), then state roads (numbered). Since this peninsula is not on the way to anywhere else, there are no US or Interstate highways here.

If the road had an interesting name, it would probably win – Orchard Road sounds more interesting than Townline Road. The final arbiter is that, when I get to an intersection, I look in all directions. If one catches my eye and my heart, I go that way.

I did end up on Townline Road for several miles. After aimless wandering, it was a straight shot on the border between two townships and I covered some miles without having to think about turning – and there were no cars.

One could say I was scouting the route for the century I will ride next month but one would be lying. Since I don’t know the route, I was just wandering. Not to mention that I stopped in the first half hour to hike through a Land Trust.

That is a path – just not very wide

No map is necessary, because it is pretty hard to get lost on this narrow peninsula. Head west and you hit Green Bay. East and you find Lake Michigan. North and the end of the peninsula appears. South and you arrive in the town of Sturgeon Bay. With the sun shining, it’s pretty easy to know which way you’re going.

This spot is kin to Poniatowski, a town that is halfway from the equator to the north pole, and halfway from the Prime Meridian to the International Date Line. The equivalent spot east is in the  Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, near the Mongolian border. To the south, these points are in the Pacific (W) and Indian (E) Oceans and not particularly near any land.

I found an interesting-looking coffee shop in Bailey’s Harbor. The menu looked good, there were lots of available outside tables, and the sign said “masks and social distancing required”. I put on a mask and joined the line. It’s hot breathing through a mask after a couple of hours of riding. I grew tired of waiting and got back on the road. The state highway was freshly-paved, with a beautiful paved shoulder and not much traffic (it being Wednesday morning), so I headed down the road to Jacksonport, where there is a cafe I’ve stopped at in other years up here. That cafe was closed (permanently? for the duration of the pandemic? because it’s Wednesday?), so I continued on. I thought about lunch at the brewpub in Egg Harbor (a branch of my neighborhood brewpub, owned by a guy whose dad I knew years ago), but I landed on another road with beautiful pavement and it wasn’t going that way so neither was I.

Back in the park, I climbed the steps up to the lookout tower and looked out. From there it was downhill all the way back to camp. A shower, a couple of tamales, a glass of Tuscan grape juice, and I was ready for the rest of the day.

I don’t know how far I rode, and I really don’t care. I’m on vacation. The biggest tasks for the afternoon are chasing sun for the solar charger and shade for me. Sun is harder to find and requires frequent moving of the solar panel. Work, work, work.

The park has miles of paved roads. There is a shoreline road that goes to all the places that tourists want to go, and a bunch of interior roads that “don’t go anywhere”, so no one drives on them. I spent the next day exploring those roads and think I covered every mile of the park. The first photo above is from that day.

Since there is no WiFi and no cell service in the park, you won’t see this until I get home. Poison Ivy is ubiquitous in these parts. It likes recently-disturbed land. This spot was just outside the back door of our tent. Needless to say, we didn’t use the back door.
For the literalists among you, “poison ivy” is a metaphor here.

A week without news or internet and I didn’t miss either. My cell phone had no purpose. A surprise text arrived when the wind blew the right way.

The Belly of the Beast

I drove through what some might call the heart of Trump Country today; but that would require that Trump, or his support, had a heart. Hence, it was the belly.

Friday: I saw a car window sign that said, “God sent us Donald J Trump…” The rest of the print was too fine to read, so I’ll have to surmise that it said, “…to see if we have the moral strength to resist the temptations of the Anti-Christ.”

A pair of billboards in the Fox River Valley said “Turn America into a Marxist Sh*thole. Vote Democrat.” The accompanying picture was Mt Rushmore featuring Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Josef Stalin, Mao-Tse Tung, and Vladimir Lenin (left to right). Sorry, but I couldn’t take a picture at 70 mph.

I had to go through Hell to get to Heaven, and am now in Peninsula State Park, just outside of Fish Creek. Tomorrow would have been the Peninsula Century Fall Challenge. It was another pandemic cancellation. Since I already had a campsite reserved, and the roads are still here, I will ride the Door Peninsula tomorrow. More to come post-ride.

Saturday Morning: Do people still carbo-load? I did. Half a pound of pumpkin tortellini with pesto (made a few days ago) for dinner last night. This morning a 4 egg scramble with Italian frying peppers, Crimini mushrooms, Cotswold cheese, garlic, and a little more of that pesto for good measure. Toast and coffee. It’s still too cold to want to ride. If I had an internet connection, I’d know how cold. Suffice to say my fingers are chilly typing. Maybe I should have brought the winter tights and jersey after all. And maybe, once I get out of the woods, I’ll be dressed enough to warm up and be glad I’m not wearing tights and a wool jersey.

I contacted the ride organizers a week ago to see if they had a map and cue sheet. They said a map would be printed in the local paper on Friday. I picked up a copy in Fish Creek on my way to the park. No map. Oh, well. The ride might be more fun with no agenda.

Saturday Night: I was dressed just right. I never had to take off the leg warmers or the jacket, or the full-finger gloves. Good thing I had a long-sleeved jersey.

There’s probably a Chevy vs Ford joke in there somewhere

I started north through the park, then onto the state highway, figuring it wouldn’t be busy this early. I rode the highway to the tip of the peninsula (Death’s Door, or Porte des Morts, so named because of the storms that come up unexpectedly, driving ships onto the reef. To a ship’s captain, it probably looks like a sheltered passage between the mainland and Washington Island. There are three shipwrecks in shallow – 25 to 40 feet – water. I haven’t been diving in many years…My certification is still good; maybe time for a refresher course to catch up on the technology, and to find a dive partner.)

Washington Island Ferry

I worked my way back south, wandering back and forth across the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. I looked at a map once. Otherwise I just wandered. It’s hard to get lost on a narrow peninsula – east you run into the lake, west you run into the bay, north you run out of land, south you end up in Sturgeon Bay.

Europe Lake
Summer is over

Lou and Peter Berryman taught me a strange geographical fact about the area. From Rock Island (just beyond Washington Island) you are surrounded by Michigan, even though you are still in Wisconsin. Due north, south, east, or west, you hit Michigan and not Wisconsin.

They also taught me that the town of Poniatowski, Wisconsin, is the geographical center of the northwest quadrant of earth – halfway between the equator and the North Pole (45 degrees N latitude) and halfway between the Prime Meridian and the International Date Line (90 degrees W longitude). Admittedly, this is an Anglocentric view of the world. While the location of the equator is pretty much set, longitude is arbitrary and was set by the English to make themselves the center of the world.

I walked in the sand at Death’s Door, waded in Europe Lake, had a snack in the marina in Sister Bay, and another snack while watching 19 Sandhill Cranes grazing in a post-harvest field. I was able to refill a water bottle at Newport Beach. I wasn’t willing to eat in any restaurants, so the ride length was dictated by how many bars I could stuff in my pockets. When I was down to the last bar, I aimed for home.

I saw two contradictory Trump signs – “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great”. It made me wonder if The Donald has ever explained when he thinks America was last great. If he thinks it’s great now, I wonder what he thinks makes it great – that the police can shoot Black men with impunity, that armed white vigilantes roam the streets, or:

After a post-ride beer in the hammock, a shower, a walk on the beach and through the woods, and a great dinner, I can’t find anything to complain about, Maybe he’s right – America is great.

The park had a lookout tower. They tore it down due to age. The replacement will be wheelchair-accessible via this ramp.
On the left is the top of the ramp. On the right, across the road, is the tower. Right now, it looks like a railroad trestle.

I have sung the praises of Kevin Kinney and Empire Wool & Canvas Company here before. He made my winter bike mitts. This time it’s to sing the praises of his Camp Coat, which had its maiden voyage on this trip. Wool blanket fabric, with a fleece liner, it was the perfect coat to stay warm around the campfire at night.

I celebrated Rosh Hashanah in my own temple – the woods and backroads; the vehicle being my bike. A few days early for the equinox, but not all holidays can come on the weekend. After the fire died down, I walked to an open area to look at the stars. I needed a light to find my way there, but after standing in the dark long enough, the starlight filtered through trees was plenty of light to find my way back.