An hour before our departure this morning, a funny feeling starting churning in the pit of my stomach. It’s my least favourite feeling and it happens before every bike trip, whether it’s a 3 day or 18 day adventure. It’s nervousness, a fear that wells inside causeing me to ask myself questions, reminding me of every possible thing that could go wrong. We left a little later than we would have liked, about 10:30 or so, from Eastown in Grand Rapids Michigan. We had a wonderful good-bye breakfast of waffles and eggs and fruit made by my brother-in-law. Eden played dress-up with her cousins and Harper crawled all over making mischief. My nerves worsened, thinking – this is a great, relaxing time, why would I want to set out for 18 days of ‘the unknown.’ But we headed off on the bikes, toward a rail trail that would take us north toward Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Eden was on Reuben’s bike and Harper fell asleep in the trailer I was pulling within minutes of departure. We both noticed a marked difference in the amount of weight we were carrying compared to our trip a few weeks back — we were loaded down! My nerves asked me again – do you really want to do this? You can still turn around…
The bike trail was beautifully wide and paved. It would follow the river out of Grand Rapids and continue on towards Cadillac, Michigan — but we were only trying to get near Howard City today — about 60km from our starting point. Once Harper awoke from his nap, we stopped at a gazebo for a snack. There were a lot of these little gazebos and pavilions along the way. In fact, each little town we passed through seemed very welcoming to the cyclists that the trail brought through their area. Lots of bike racks in front of businesses and posts of information describing towns with maps and even some menus for local restaurants. Harper and Eden switched spots as Eden was eager to ride in the trailer, and we landed in Rockford at 1pm for a lunch rest. We had traveled this portion of our journey about two years ago with Reuben’s family, and it was on that ride that the idea for our Big Adventure started to form. We never thought we would be headed down this path again — this time with bikes laden with camping gear and intending to venture out for more than just ice cream in Rockford.
We continued on the trail and both kids fell fast asleep. They were both now riding on Reuben’s bike which gave me a bit of break from pulling their weight. It works really well to have each of us able to carry both kids — either in the trailer behind my bike, or in the bike seats on Reuben’s. Nap time is one of our favourite times of day to bike – as both children sleep, we clock the miles uninterrupted. The only problem is that if we need a break, we have to wait so we don’t wake them up. My stomach started to churn again as I anticipated what lay ahead of us. I talked with Reuben a bit about it and soon was in tears. I was pretty overwhelmed with the trip as I have not done much cycling lately and our planned daily mileage just seemed really high. We talked about ways to manage mileage expectations each day and found a low-pressure solution that we were both happy with. Reuben reminded me that this was normal to be anxious at the beginning of a long trip, and by the time I was in the tent that night, I’d be feeling differently. And he was right. We pushed through and finished our 60 kilometres for the day at about 5:30 and found a willing family to let us pitch our tent on the edge of their property. After watching Eden revel in helping her Daddy set up camp and cooking a good hot meal, everything had changed. This was fun. My legs were nicely sore, the weather had been perfect, and everyone was happy. Now I’m ready for this bike tour!
Distance today: 60.5km