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Not in Canada anymore.

Miles: 25.4

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 163

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (2 Birds, 3 Frogs)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

The weather threatened a lot of rain today.  I left Brockport in a medium shower and believed that the local weather forecasters got it right. It was going to be a cool wet mess.  I wasn't thrilled about getting all that fine grime from the Erie Canal Trail in my dérailleurs. Better to avoid future problems by cutting the ride short I surmised.


I found a ghetto Motel 6 near the Rochester airport and took shelter. My room was clean and sterile, like a cinder block freshman dorm room.  It had a residual cigarette and Pine Sol smell. As I listened to an old Russian couple yelling at each other on one side of my room and to the wailing moans of lovers "wrestling" on the other, I considered burning my sixty bucks and jumping back on the bike. Instead, I cleaned up and took a four mile walk to the movie theater to kill time. As fate
would have it, the sun creeped out and the afternoon was perfect.  


Inspired by my love of cinematic atrocities, I considered watching "Grown Ups 2."  I thought it might be unintentionally funny to watch second rate comedians exploit parenthood. I came to my senses and decided I'd have more fun watching the pre-Jew-baiting Mel Gibson in "Mad Max" on my smartphone--the only film that had to be dubbed from English to English for an audience to understand it. 


So, I had an overpriced coffee and watched what dystopia looked like through the lens of the 1980's on a very small screen.  I thought little of the wasted day and capped it off by paying for a ticket to the theater anyway, which left me depressed.  If you can stomach another tale of police abuse, take in "Fruitvale Station."


Sorry to all the cyclists looking for juicy or arcane riding information.  The lesson here is to distrust weather forecasts and to suck it up and brave the elements!

Tomorrow I will be bolder.


 
 

Miles: 65.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 403.5

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (3 Birds, 3 Possum)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 1

Animal Rescue: 0


The Erie Canal in New York runs about 350 miles from Buffalo at Lake Erie to Albany on the Hudson River completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  It only took eight years to complete in an era when things got done. It opened in 1825. If we get potholes filled in that time today, we do backflips.

I make a living as a dolphin shaver and a clown fighter, but in my spare time I call myself am "efficiency expert."  Unlike passing tourists, I was fascinated with all the historic posts along the Erie Canal Trail , a mostly ground limestone path that runs along this engineering marvel.

At a time when bulk goods transport was limited to pack animals and there were no steamships or railways to carry things, water was the most cost effective way to ship. Faster than draft horses, the canal  was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard  and the Great Lakes that did not require portage and cut transport costs by about 95%!  

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That chasm below gave me vertigo and I was too chicken to hold my camera over the railing.

The canal started a population boom in western New York State, opened the Midwest to industrial trade and allowed nutty religious movements  in the "burned over district," which I will be unable to resist writing about in a future post. 

I jumped on the canal trail at Lockport, NY.  It's the site of the tallest lock, which looked like a 500 foot drop to me, but I'm afraid of heights. So, it's probably on the order if a hundred feet.  It's pictured on this post, so you be the judge. 

I had to get used to the transition from pavement to hard pack. It didn't take long and I found that I preferred it to the asphalt sections.  The trail is dotted with small towns at each lock and most of these places are charming.  Near Rochester, I hear that the canal is features outdoor cafes tourist spots for boaters, cyclists and anyone else enjoying leisurely strolls.  


I arbitrarily felt I wasn't making enough progress the past couple of days, so my goal was to ride past Rochester, but the charm of Brockport lured me like the Sirens of Achelous.  It's main street was clean and neat with cafes, ice cram stores, bike shops and a small movie theater. My kind of place.  I made the "mistake" of having a dinner of real New York Italian stuffed shells and that was it. I was in for the night.

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The Siren of Brockport, despite her eastern accent, sent me crashing into a pasta induced coma.

I was warned by the locals that I should avoid the Econolodge because it was a rotten hole. So, I headed there straight away.  It wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was clean enough. The sheets appeared to be unspoiled, even if they might be reused.  When I stay at these joints, I just figure I'm building up my defense system.  I don't need to fend off nasties with Purel anymore.  George Carlin recommended tossing kids into the fecal soup of the Hudson River in Manhattan to strengthen their immunity. 


Not a bad idea. 

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Feeling strong despite the bed bugs, McDonald's restrooms and greasy buffalo wings.
 
 
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Ray and Sandra. Good Samaritans.

Miles: 79.0

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 862.9

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (9 Birds, 1 Raccoons, I Possum, 1 Skunk, 1 Snake, I Frog, 9 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0


Riding in the rain really isn't so bad. The worst part is talking yourself into going outside.  I think about Brooklyn summers as a kid and splashing around broken fire hydrants to ready myself.

It was sprinkling just enough to make the road wet out of Port Dover. This condition concerned me because light rain when it hasn't rained for a while can be as bad as snow or ice for a cyclist.  A sheen of oil and road is activated to make things very slick until it gets washed away. 


As I was fiddling with final preparations and ointments at a Tim Horton's, a car pulled up and Sandra and Ray jumped out to wish me well. What a nice surprise that was because I didn't know their names until this moment. They were the generous people that bought me dinner last night!  They spotted me and pulled over.  

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Ashok forced to enjoy a cup of Tim Horton's mediocre fare.

Sandra, Ray, Graig, the Innkeeper lady, Alex Trebec. All nice Canadians that reawakened my desire to have a place in this country. I tried to move to BC with Katy some years ago, but the expatriate and convoluted tax issues for my business was vexing.   I'll just have to settle for frequent visits. 

I made my way toward Ft. Erie in crummy, but not so freezing wet conditions.  I met up with Ashok whom I befriended working in Augusta, GA this year.  Ashok is Canadian, but flies all over the place doing high minded work in industrial automation.  He's often tasked with taking manufacturers out of the 1950's by demonstrating his products work better than the UNIVAC knockoffs they use. 

Ashok gave me lift over the bridge into Buffalo. We talked strategy assuming that we'd be hassled by Customs bullies.  A pasty white guy in spandex with a Canadian citizen originally from Oman surely looks suspicious to our paranoid government.  

We had little trouble and Ashok remarked, "That agent was an old veteran with nothing to prove.  Good thing we didn't get some new recruit with a chip on his shoulder."

The evening ended in a nice, pedestrian fashion. I bought some cheap sunglasses to replace the Tifosi I last earlier in the day and we had wings for dinner.  It's Buffalo, the intergalactic headquarters for wings. 

Rain expected tomorrow. Damn. 

 
 

Miles: 71.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1441.8

Weather: Sunny, Mild

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 22 (7 Birds, 3 Raccoons, I Possum, 1 Skunk, 1 Mouse, 9 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Canucks will argue with me, but poutine is roughly the same wherever you go. This delicacy of french fries sopped in brown gravy and held together by melted globules of white cheese is a tradition that precedes Tim Horton's.  It's novelty food for tourists, pedestrian fare for Canadians and a source of confusion for the people of New Jersey whom eat "disco fries."


I'm told by my friend Ashok from Ontario that there are more advanced poutine dishes. Pulled pork poutine. Chicken poutine.  Beef, bacon, pepperoni and sausage poutine.  


Epiphany!  Time for gluten free artisanal poutine!  Skinny white women with made up intolerances and mustachioed hipsters will pay top dollar for it. I'll source it "locally" and start my chain of food carts in Oregon.  


I took a lunch break in Port So-and-So and decided to bring balance to my healthy chicken wrap by ordering the poutine.  It was hastily made with canned gravy, but I managed to swill about half of the gelatinous mass down my greedy gullet.  Sports nutritionists will balk, but this tasty swill gave me the energy I needed for the 50 mile haul into Port Dover.

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Windmills power the coast of Lake Erie. I would curse them if they faced the "wrong" way and indicated I had a headwind.

On my way to Port Dover, I was caught by a guy named Graig on a speedy carbon fiber bike.  Friendly and affable, he slowed down to talk and escorted me most of the way to town.  Graig told me about these long cyclocross races up here. 70-100 km efforts on single track and gravel. That sounds more fun than getting lapped by superior athletes. I'd be content to fall back and get lost in the woods, free of glaring spectators. .

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Graig tearing up the road!

I checked into a cottage, cleaned up and went to dinner at a place called Captain Billy's.  A couple from Paris, ON struck up a conversation with me about bike touring, overseas travel and infrastructure.  I learnEd from them that before they became The Band, Robbie Robertson,  Levon Helm, Rick Danko and company were a scuffling party band from Port Dover playing at dives all along the eastern seaboard.

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The Band in prototype form before long hair, great music and The Last Waltz.

You'd never know this picturesque place on the water produced notable rock bands and is a gathering place for thousands of bikers (motorcycle) to congregate Sturgia-like fashion. Apparently, this area of Ontario is home to a big faction of the Hell's Angels.  Who'd of thunk?


My company excused themselves and I finished eating.  I went to pay for my meal and found that it was discreetly taken care if by the people I'd been chatting with. Canadians!  The nicest people on earth. I was both thankful and ashamed that I didn't even get the names of my donors.  Once again, this trip is chipping away at my misanthropy. 

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Yes, Canadian cats are friendlier than American cats. Must be something in the water.
 
 

Miles: 92.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1283.3

Weather: Sunny, Mild

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 29 (12 Birds, 3 Skunk, 3 Raccoons, 11 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

"Yahweh zen exG cazmzmm bfHbvfzjdnz," is the gibberish I saw sprawled out on my iPhone as I pulled it from my jersey pocket at the end of today's ride.  Despite keeping it in a Ziplock sandwich bag as I ride, the sweaty moisture that seeps into my pockets creates a tactile atmosphere that penetrates my prophylactic design. That's why I see pocket dials I've made and random apps that run my battery down at times. 

It's odd that this digital Sanskrit began with "Yahweh zen," since I'd been listening to Christopher Hitchens read his fascinating opus "God Is Not Great" while I ticked off the miles today.  The book is chiefly about sacerdotal despotism and posits that Western religious "free will" is a Hobson's choice.  Hitchens doesn't simplify it to the Hobson dilemma, that's my take.  Essentially, the horse we are given to ride is Jesus.  

My pentecostal friends will point out that such a random event on my phone is a warning sign.  An intervention from their "correct" denominational monotheistic God to knock off entertaining heresy. Ho hum. 

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Too bad he doesn't side with Toronto.

Riding along quaint coastal towns of Lake Erie reveals larger Canada's repellant cleanliness. It surpasses the work done by Disney's oppressed Fantasyland janitors. The rare sight of litter appears to be accidental along the squeaky-clean coast filled with flag-flying sailboats and houses.  Amongst the freakishly sterile surroundings are polite locals going about their business so as not to disturb anyone else. 

Americans are known to comment about politeness and cleanliness when they cross the border and its understandable. Slow movement on the bike intensifies the contrast between our accustomed urban and suburban blight with Canada's well manicured environment.  Another victory for democratic socialism?

They take recycling seriously here too.  It's easy to find bottle receptacles on nearly any street without a bunch of smelly vagrants with shopping carts sorting their aluminum lucre.  Peter Ustinov once described Toronto as “New York run by the Swiss,” and while its been a while since I've visited, I attest this to be true.

I had a pleasant day with pleasant stops amongst pleasant people at pleasant cafes, gas stations and ice cream shops. It makes me wonder how I'll handle my first encounter with an angry New Yorker.

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Ah, the McHomard. Beautiful swill.

I quite enjoyed the McDonald's "McHomard" sandwich ordered for breakfast in Wallaceburg.  "McHomard"  is Canadian French for "McLobster."  I expected it to be some fried whey protein, nitrate abomination but was surprised to see it was full of real sea roach.  Very yummy.

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Port Stanley. Touristy, the way I like it.

I ended up in Port Stanley and took a room at an inn. The proprietor, woman in her early sixties has toured the world on bike.  We spent time looking at her photo albums of trips that make my effort look like a cake walk: Tashkent to Beijing; Ethiopia and Eritrea on mountain bike; Capetown to Istanbul. I'm not a hero worshipper, but I paused to put her in my cranial pantheon of truly great people. 


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Coastal Erie at night.
 
 

Miles:  49.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  345.7

Weather: Sunny, Mild

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 44 (2 Possum, 1 Raccoon, 2 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

My favorite thing about Canadians is their adorably lilting accents, even if they happen to be evil incarnate or find themselves in tremendous pain.  I've not experienced any unpleasantness whatsoever, but I imagine this idea to be true. 

The uber-friendly people I converse with along the coast of Lake Erie don't complain much, buy they do find three things annoying and they'll let you know "aboowt" it--the Québécois, tax amnesty for the First Nations and the perennial disappointment of Mapleleaf hockey. 

As to the whole dual-language (English and French) nightmare that afflicts the culture here, I told my acquaintances Peggy and Lynne, over a Tim Horton's coffee, "If English was good enough for Jesus, then by God it's good enough for me!"

I lifted my statement from Texas Governor Miriam Ferguson, spoken in reference to the use of bilingualism in Texas schools.  I figured it was roughly analogous. 

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Peggy and Lynne at the Tim Hortons, Wallaceburg.

My ride was a flat hug of the coastline along the St. Clair river on my way to the Canadian coast of Lake Erie.  I took a ferry across from Marine City where I was hassled by U.S. Customs agents.  Their incredibly dumb questions reminded me that we are living in the age of the American Stasi. "Why do you need this type if credit card? Is this a weapon? (It was a small black mini pump.)

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My Passport Card...a lighter option than the Full Monty.

After paying a buck to get across the water and happy I wasn't reamed by a cavity search, I rode a few pleasant miles and came upon Tim Hortons. It surely will be the first of hundreds on this stretch through Ontario. More ubiquitous than Dunkin Donuts is in the States, Timmy's can be relied upon 24/7 for mediocre coffee, mediocre pastry and middling WiFi. I love the place. 


A bit of background for those ignorant about this Canadian icon: Tim Horton's  is an multinational doughnut chain co-founded by Tim Horton, a Canadian Hockey player. He died when he lost control of his 1974 Pantera driving 120 mph under the influence of alcohol and pain killers.


The company has brilliantly managed to use it strict Canadian origin, massive franchise expansion, corporate sponsorships and shrewd marketing to make itself more iconic than McDonald's is in the U.S.  It's such a staple, it appears to me that 

Canadians make it their patriotic duty to patronize the place. 

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St. Clair river.

Here's the bad news Canada.  Tim Horton's is not Canadian owned!  Just like we took the 13 Colonies in 1776-1778, us Yanks bought the corporation in 1995.  Tim Horton's is owned by Wendy’s.  Of course, this means that when I buy Tim Hortons, I'm being a patriotic American and a generous one to boot, since I'm injecting the once mighty dollar into a better economy.

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Going really light now. Dumped all but one dry bag and handlebar mount.

I ride rural routes tomorrow, hoping to make it to the very Commonwealth sounding Port Stanley.

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Once again, Michigan doesn't disappoint. Here's a glimpse of Marine City.
 
 

The Motor City is broke. 

By the time bankruptcy rolled around, Detroit was already at its nadir.  It's so bad that declaring the city a hellhole as a national pastime has run its course.  its odd that Detroit gets so much attention in the press.  Extreme  wretchedness and squalor afflicts other manufacturing cities across this country.  Why don't journalists and  political hacks care about Cleveland, or Camden?  They're suffering similar fates.  I hope Detroit finds a way, by hook or by crook, to reemerge from its Sierra Leone standard of living to industrial cosmopolitan greatness it once enjoyed, waving a middle finger at its detractors.  

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Detroit suburbs look like college towns. Very nice.

You'd never know there's a crisis downtown by visiting spots in the greater outlying metropolitan area.  It's clean and bustling in the suburbs.

Compelled by comfort to stay another night with the Moores in Shelby, I found an idyllic atmosphere around 25 Mile Road


Richard took me to a few nice towns. I was particularly impressed by Rochester Hills.  Its New England style downtown didn't exhibit any signs of economic distress and it wasn't an antiseptic strip mall. 


Yeah, yeah...I hear the chorus of folks shouting, "It's all white flight, Republican, Oakland County UMCs up there!"  Mostly true, yes, but still a sign that industry is booming.  It's a marker--hope for Detroit that there is a possibility it can get its act together.  I stand with Kid Rock, Eminem and my pal, Hatch, that it's not over for Motown. 

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Chez Moore Lounge.

My extra day off was fabulous.  I slept in, took a trip to a bike shop and chatted with Mike the mechanic, buzzed off my mat of hair and sat in a hot tub. I convalesced from the stress of doing nothing.


Maddox chose our dinner by wisely suggesting we eat 1/2 lb. burgers at Red Knapp's, a 50's inspired diner.  The food was a gut bomb of deliciousness. I suggest the broccoli cheese bites as a side. They are scrumptiously devoid of any nutritional value. 


After dinner, the adults retired to the garage.  Well, not exactly a garage, per se. Calling such luxury space a "garage" would be palpably fraudulent. It's a lounge as nice as any hidden side street joint in the Florida Keys. Rich calls it his "man cave," but his wife and neighbor, both female, seemed to be regulars.  We had a few drinks and played Tiki Toss.  Robin and I peppered the atmosphere with our frenetically charged conversation about movies, music and people with self-worth issues. 

This yet unnamed private club is equipped with a large flat screen television, immaculate cabinetry, all manner of tools, a sofa and mid-century modern Arthur Umanoff chairs.  Its accented by a stained and polished concrete floor.  Atmospherically comforting, I was relaxed until Rich exposed to the digital dopamine of the Sonos system. 

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Mike the mechanic.

Sonos is a hardware and software music platform.  It's like iTunes on steroids with wireless digital tentacles. Basically, you can send separate streams of music to specific locations in the house.  Pandora in the kitchen? Check.  Spotify in the bedroom? Hair band playlist in the basement?  Liberace's greatest hits in the guest bathroom? Check, check and check. 


Rich installed the Sonos app on my iPhone and he might as well have put a gun in my hand.  Robin and I began to compete for the alpha status as house DJ by picking the best lounge songs. The app lets you interrupt whatever is playing with whatever you choose or you can put things in queue.  Think of 10 million juke boxes in the palm of your hand.  Like ferrets on crack, we'd listen to a song for thirty seconds and say, "Uh huh, this is good, but have you heard this?! Or this?! Or this?!"

Collectively we heard soothing noise, but very few melodies and it was stupendous.  I could play such a game for days on end.  Who has time to listen to an entire opus when there are lifetimes of soundbites to indulge?

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I covet thy music.

I have to get on tomorrow. " Keep moving," I tell myself as I violate the last commandment in the Decalogue. I do covet this place, but not in a purely material way. Come to think of it, I think covetousness is a good thing if it leads to imitation and, ultimately, emulation of worthy things.  Rich and Robin live well and the affection that reverberates is just accented by the accoutrements of their home.  I'm gonna make such an argument to Katy as I campaign for Sonos this Christmas. 

My sincerest gratitude to the Moores for making my stop in Shelby one of the highlights of the trip.  I hope we do half as well when they come to Bend for a visit. 


Tomorrow Canada:  Poutine, Alouettes "Football," Tim Hortons and friendly people that make Minnesotans, and my friend Theresa, blush.

 
 
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My fine hosts, Richard and Robbyn. I wanna move into their basement.

Miles:  108

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  1525.7

Weather: Mostly Sunny, Mild

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 44 (6 Birds, 3 Possum, 3 Frogs, 3 Turtles, 8 Raccoons, 21 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

The carnage on the road continues.  

Central Michigan's rodents don't fare well along county roads.  Too much forest, too many cars.  As I pass the twisted remains of someone's furry mom or dad, I say a little prayer for each one of them and smell their evaporating essence.  This got me thinking about the olfactory menu drummed up by the pavement day after day. 

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Crazy lady feeding the fowl in Bay City, MI. She seemed normal until she started telling me the name of every one of these birds and their progeny, unseen in the photo.

Here's a list, in order of prevalence, of the stuff I've been smelling over the past seven weeks:

-Good quality hay curing in the mow. 

-Freshly turned rich soil. 

-Liquid manure slurry from factory hogs. 

-Steaming cattle manure. 

-Rain on hot asphalt. 

-Sweet putridity of rotting animal flesh. 

-Dank sweat soaked cycling jerseys. 

-Viscous perspiration and sunscreen resin. 

-Faint Pine Sol and bleach from long ago filthy toilet cleaning

-Gasoline

-Urine turned syrup in filthy truck stop restrooms. 

There's more, I'm certain, but these are smells etched in my memory. 

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Maddox, showing me how much cooler his shark helmet is compared to mine.

Pretty flat ride on roads with decent shoulders.  I was getting close to Detroit and arranged a visit with my friend Richard and his family.  It was a wise choice.  These people are the most pleasant hosts. They gave me the VIP treatment in their well appointed home. It was an absolute contrast to the Hanoi Hilton I "slept" in a couple of days ago.

After a heavenly shower in an apartment sized bathroom, Rich and Robbyn fed me a steak. Maddox, their charming son, gave me a tour of the toy collection--A bright kid, he should be a plastic dinosaur docent.  Even the dog, Dudley, showed me some love after he warmed up. 

My mother-in-law accommodations were fit for a spoiled Saudi Prince.  I secretly hoped that it would rain so that is be "trapped" here a while. The gods smiled upon me as the thunder clapped late into the night.

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I'm fond of this picture because it was important for Maddox to suit up for me. He's got shoulder pads, helmet and a mouthguard, yet he's so tough he plays in flip flops. I think the Rainbow Warriors at UH will be calling soon.
 
 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Dow Chemical has contributed to 96 Superfund toxic waste sites.  One of these, a former uranium processing plant is particularly disturbing. From 1951 to 1975, Dow managed the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility.  It produced plutonium triggers for hydrogen bombs. 


In the 1960's a "rare event" occurred where some stuff  blew up and caused a bit of "collateral damage."   Americans know this is the price we pay for "freedom," but Dow and its lawyers had to be persuaded for over 30 years to share in this liberty debt. A federal judge made the company reluctantly cough up a billion dollars for their goof. 

Of course, I didn't talk about any of this to the good folks in Midland, MI where Dow is headquarters.   It's the largest employer in town and has remained an economic juggernaut in good times and bad. The weary people of Michigan don't want to listen to a crank point out other Dow flubs:  Agent Orange, Napalm, Silicone Breast Implants, Nemagon and the brazen move to buy Union Carbide at a discount after the Bhopal disaster. 


We've gotta take the good with the bad. After all, Dow is a leader in manufacturing GMOs and they invented styrofoam! Imagine a world without that stuff.  A nightmare.  

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Mickey, Sondi, Tyler and Bill at the Bicycle HQ. The best stop in all of Midland.

Just past a Chemical Bank branch, I found Bicycle HQ.  Its a nice shop with an incredible assortment of bikes ranging from trikes to high end recumbents.  It's been going strong since 1986 and one of the owners, Sondi took time to take my picture and asked about my journey.  Her mechanic, Mickey, was affable and gave me the best lunch recommendation.   If anyone makes it to Bay City, check out the Espresso Express.  

I took a rest day because I felt a bit sick this morning and I have a long haul to suburban Detroit to meet up with Rich Moore--perhaps my most laid back, easygoing friend in North America. I think he might even possess one micron more Zen than San Francisco's Snappy Tom. For the few of you that know Snappy, you know this is an incredible feat for a successful Motor City salesman.


Farewell Midland!  Good luck with "better living through chemistry."


 
 

Miles: 87.5

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  1456.7

Weather: Rainy, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 53 (7 Birds, 2 Deer, 1 Rabbit, 3 Turtles, 21 Raccoons, 19 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Central Michigan is really hard on raccoons. 

I counted 21 of these unfortunate little bandits as roadkill victims on a short stretch of Hwy 10.  I'm pretty sure several more fell into my "Unknown" category.  They must thrive in the dense forest that makes up this part of the state. 

The body count dropped to zero once I diverted onto the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, a mostly uninhibited 40 mile stretch of asphalt.  A couple of guys training for triathlons passed me by on their sterling TT bikes.  I wondered how fast they'd go if forced upon my steel rig with bungie hobo bags attached.  


This gave me an idea for a race:  A Tri or combined sport effort where the participants were allowed a budget of only 100 dollars for all of their gear.  In order to avoid any advantage where someone might benefit from used equipment, the participants would be required to buy new gear and provide proof of purchase to race organizers.  Orbea Ordus gleaned from Craigslist or Argon 18s sold by jilted lovers at garage would be banned.  

I see a field of Chinese Wal-Mart bikes mounted by athletic wunderkinds in knockoff Chuck Taylors and Speedo Fastskin fakes. A glorious competition of hyper-testosterone fueled men and women bitching about their split times and poor performance due to mechanical challenges.  Of course, this fantasy is motivated by my jealousy. Yet, I think such a race would still command quite a few entrants. 

was mostly an uneventful day riding in the rain, listening to audio books about Monte Carlo simulations and how success in business is largely governed by wildly exuberant randomness.  Don't tell this to Ariana Huffington or your rich neighbor with the bigger house and BMW, by the way. 

Sketchy motels are taking a toll on my hai. It resembles a matted Brillo pad.  Cheap dives only supply a tiny bar of soap that they probably stole or stockpiled from other crappy motels and these shards of lye have served as my shampoo and conditioner.  When I get a chance, I'm just gonna cut it all off like Ashton Kutcher's abused ex-wife, G.I. Jane. It might suit me in the heat. 

I treated myself to an early 80's inspired Best Western.  Its convention center with burgundy and green decor and brassy fern bar without the ferns is charming. I can see the ghosts of important Motor City men in power ties enjoying some seminar here.  The place is clean and the fish tank in the lobby is soothing.  I'm typing this entry with fat fingers on my phone, sitting next to a content plecostomus. 

Dinner options were limited, so I had the chicken parmesan sandwich, sans bread, at Gimmicks bar in a nearby bowling alley.  I asked Stephanie, my friendly server, why breaded stuff needs more bread. She shrugged and asked what kind of fries I wanted on the side.  I think this trip will cure me of eating so much of the American diet. Like a smoker bent on quitting by lighting up 16 packs in a day, my limited meal options made exclusively in fryers is going to turn me vegan or "freegan."

I'm toying with meeting up with Richard Moore, fun loving brother of my roommate in college, by making a detour to suburban Detroit. Perhaps, if I act un-heroically and feeble, Rich will pick me up in one of his large vehicles. He is a Motor City businessman, after all.