I’m not going to lie, I HATE Michigan winters. Of course, I also hated every one of the, slightly shorter Pennsylvania winters I experienced in my first thirty-nine years of life before moving here in 2010. On the flip side, MOST of my time here in Michigan has been blessed with some amazing summers and falls. I would have included spring, but our spring is the drunk, psychotic uncle of seasons; cloudy, cold, sunny, blustery, warm, rainy, icy, grey, humid and dry. However, this summer has been pretty darn excellent in the weather department; not too hot, not too humid and sunny most of the time. Except on Tuesdays.
It seems that Tuesdays in central Michigan are reserved for heavy rains, strong winds and storms. Tuesday also happens to be the day that Wifey has the option to work at home, which allows me to get out for a ride during the day. Sadly–more often than not–on the days she has done so, I have awoke in the morning to the sounds of rain blowing against the house. Today was no different.
Unlike many other of this summer’s Tuesdays, I refused to be denied some time in the saddle. The heavier rains of the early morning moved out of the area for a few hours and gave way to pleasantly cool, but annoyingly humid conditions with a moderate breeze from the west. I’ve ridden in better conditions, but I have sure as hell ridden in worse. So I saddled up and did what I could to get a ride in before the rain returned; heading out on the dirt and gravel roads for the first time in well over a month.
It seems that in my absence from the dirt roads I managed to miss a large chunk of the farming season. Some crops have already begun to be harvested, much hay has been bailed and the corn that was not even knee-high during my last foray onto gravel is the better side of eight feet high or more, some of the tallest corn stalks I have ever seen!
I have missed riding the dirt roads, but over the course of the summer–when my schedule has allowed–I have opted to ride singletrack or go explorin’ the sandy snowmobile trails and seasonal ORV roads up north on the Pugsley. It felt so good to once again get out and enjoy my favorite type of road riding; the sort that has me returning home covered in mud, grime, dust & dirt.
Today’s ride was one of my old standby weekday loops: Thirty-five miles in length, with the first ten miles and the final three miles being tolerable (as long as I wasn’t getting a headwind!) rolling pavement. The twenty-two miles in the middle are the ones that bring all the dirty joy, and today those roads alternated between slow-moving, energy zapping mud, tractor rutted sand, tacky dirt and fast rolling hard pack.
Regardless of the condition or surface of the road, the ride was awesome. It was a pleasant reminder or how much I enjoy riding around here. A point that was further illustrated when I received no less than four waves from passing motorists today. I have come to the conclusion that the people in my neck of Michiganderburgh are either super friendly, or they are waving in sympathetic support because they think me a chubby, mentally challenged adult who they are happy to see out trying to keep himself in shape. I’m hoping super friendly.
The ride was also a chance to become reacquainted with all those great (and not so great) smells that one experiences out on rural roads: fresh sawdust, burning plastic, wet hay, cow/pig/horse manure, road kill (as seen above), mud, corn, wood burning stoves, lunch cooking and stagnant swamp. SNIFF!
I’m not sure what the rest of this week will hold as far as rides are concerned, for now I am just thankful to have finally broken the curse of Tuesday.