Aug 12

Bike Rides

I have had some great bike rides this week.  However, before I get into the details, I have to get something off my chest.  It bugs me to no end when I see cyclists deliberately breaking the rules of the road.  Today, for instance, I saw a bike who was stopped behind three cars at a red light.  Rather than waiting in the position he was stopped in, he biked along the left of the cars and pulled out into the front.  Didn’t he learn in kindergarten that cutters go to the back of the line???  I always want to say something to people who are setting a bad example because they just make it worse for the rest of us, but I never do. So, my question to all of you, have you ever corrected someone’s law or etiquette infractions on the bike?  What has been your response from the offender?  Anger? Cockiness? Ignorance?

Any ways, onto my bike rides.  While up in Harbor Springs, I did two bike rides.  If I had to describe the rides in two words, they would be “Holy (bleeping) Hills!!!!” (bleeps don’t count as words right?)

Ride #1 Tunnel of Trees

For my first ride, I headed up M-119 to the Tunnel of Trees.  The Tunnel of Trees is a state designated scenic road along the shore of Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay.  It was a gorgeous, but hilly ride.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The entire stretch of road is essentially a single lane.  It was almost like a bike path that cars were allowed on.  Because the road is so narrow and windy, the speed limit is only 25-35mph.  On top of that, if two cars are going in opposite directions, you really almost have to go off the edge of the road as you pass by each other.  Because of these limitations, the road has very light traffic and is generally only used by tourists and cyclists.

The ride consisted of lots of ups and downs.  The ups sucked, but the downs were a ton of fun.  I was hitting 40-45mph on some of the down hills.  It was good practice for descending hills without riding the brakes.


I stopped to snap this picture, but didn’t stay long for fear of running into any wandering spirits.  This sign was at one of the hair pin curves along the course.  It was quite an adrenalin rush to ride down the hill and around the curve at 30mph.


The tunnel would occasionally open up with gorgeous views of the lake.  It was a serious drop off down to the water though, so you really couldn’t get to the beach from the road.

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit overcast on the day I chose to ride.  In fact, when I got to the turn around point in Cross Village, it had started to rain.  Despite not raining in Harbor Springs, I ended up getting drenched through and through at the halfway point.

tunnel of trees

This is the elevation chart from the first half of the ride.  I did an out and back for a total of about 56 miles, so the second half the elevation chart is the reverse of the above.  As you can see, lots of ups and downs with very little flat stretches.

I had multiple technical difficulties on this ride which was a big pain in the butt.  First off, my Garmin wasn’t fully charged.  I figured I would use it as long as the battery held off, but then forgot to start it on the way out.  So, I was just going to rely on my Cateye bike computer.  However, when I got to the halfway point, I accidentally reset it when I tried to cycle through the functions.  And then to add to the mix, my stupid Profile Design saddle mounted bottle cage fell off just short of the halfway point.  I really need to email Profile Design to see if they will replace it because no matter how much I tighten it, it loosens up after about 100 miles of riding.

Because of the problems with the Garmin and bike computer, I don’t know my exact time, but I am estimating the ride was about 3 hours and 15 minutes which put me at just over a 17mph average.  It was a great relaxing ride and a cool way to explore the area.

Ride #2 Breakwater Course Preview

My second ride was on a portion of the Breakwater Half IM course.  I wanted to ride part of the course in case I decide to do the race at the end of the month.  Yep, that’s right, not only am I thinking of doing another HIM, but I am procrastinating about making the decision.


This was less than a mile into the ride and already a good sized climb.  I have a bad feeling about this…

It didn’t get any better.  This course was even hillier than the Tunnel of Trees route.  And after the first ride, my legs were already tired which didn’t help.


After I got out of downtown Petoskey, the road was more or less a country road with a good sized shoulder.  The road wasn’t particularly smooth, but I’ve ridden on worse.  It was primarily a chip and sealed road that was worn down over time.

I ended up riding 17 miles out and then turning around.  I was only going to do 15 out, but at the 15 mile mark, I saw another hill in the distance.  At that point, I turning into a hill-slayer and wanted to slay every hill in sight.  No hill was too big.  So, I charged off for another climb before turning around.


Finally a down hill! YAY!! The ride back into downtown Petoskey was much more downhill than the way out. There were still a couple of climbs, but nothing like the way out.

mitchell road out

Again, I did an out and back course.  Above is the first half of the course with the second half being the reverse.

I ended up finishing in just under 2 hours for a 17.2mph average over the 34 miles.  This was another great ride and was really took a lot out of me.

Breakwater Petoskey Half IM Course

After my test ride of the Petoskey HIM course, I went back and looked at the actual course map.  I realized that I didn’t quite ride the course correctly and that the actual course would be a bit easier than what I rode.  That was a semi-relief.  It will still be a very tough bike course with lots of good climbs though.  Probably not a PR course with all of the hills, but it will be a challenge.

Full evelation map

On the plus side, the run course is almost entirely flat.  It is a 6.5 mile out and back along the waterfront so there should be any hills.  I like the prospect of doing a simple out and back course versus the loops I have had to do at my previous HIMs.  I would think that an out and back would be mentally easier than the loops.

Now, I just have to make the decision.  To do the race or not to do the race.  I’m really not looking forward to another 4 hour drive (each way) to Petoskey, but I really want to get a 3rd HIM in this season.  I guess it is time to head on over to Priceline and see if Will Shatner can find us a hotel.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2010/08/12/bike-rides


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  1. Matty O

    WOW, now those are some HILL workouts! Great job man. Some serious elevation gain there.

    Love the scenery too. I never take pictures of my rides when I should… I will have to start haha.

    Your biking is getting pretty strong too, keep up the good work!

  2. Jon

    Pretty rides! Would love to ride up your way one day.

    I once rode with Bob Roll. Yep, THAT Bob Roll. He doesnt’t understand the concept of red lights. After running 2 or 3 with him, I finally said, “I like the way my body is: INTACT” and I let him go….I was actually chasing the entire time, but still, he gave cyclists a BAD name out there.

  3. Jeff

    Some crazy hills right there! Sounds like you already have your mind made up about doing the race (-:

    I usually say something to other cyclists when they do something stupid. On Saturday I was down along this popular country route along Lake Houston and I caught up to a large group (mabye 30 riders) all in Team in Training gear. When I caught them they were riding 3-4 abreast and 4 cars were lined up behind them. This is a narrow country road and riding 3-4 abreast is dangerous. After the cars eventually passed I pulled up next to the group that was actually 5 riders across at this time and I nicely explained to them what they were doing wrong and how sharing the road goes for them too. It was a bit awkward as a few seconds passed before one guy finally said “sorry” … I pulled away from them after that but felt better for saying something.

  4. Maria

    Holy Hills Batman! Good grief you are pounding it!
    Tough issue with crappy cyclists, I’m not sure what I’d do. I feel like there should be an official etiquette book that is given to cyclists when they buy the bike. I also think cyclists should be given tickets like cars if they run red light or disobey other traffic laws. …Although I would consider a speeding ticket an accomplishment!

  5. Krista

    The tunnel of trees ride looks beautiful!

    Sometimes I think riding in Central Park in NYC is the biggest example of rude cyclists. On a nice morning you will find hundres of riders, maybe even a thousand at it’s peak, circling around a 6 mile loop. The mix of abilities and speeds, combined with people riding in packs, pacelines, intervals and hill repeats makes for a very interesting and sometimes dangerous experience! Just yesterday I saw a group of 5 that had stopped right in the middle of a busy intersection, set their bikes down on the road, and were showing proper position in the saddle.. WTF?

  6. lindsay

    lol. i hope shatner was helpful in making your decision.

    those are some hilly rides! hills never seem to photograph well, so when you can REALLY see them you know they are massive.

    random question – know of any good websites to get quality but reasonably-priced cycling jerseys?

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