Day one of PALM (Pedal Across Lower Michigan) and so far the tour has the vibe of being a camping trip with a little biking mixed in. I got to venture down to Lake Michigan and kicked off the tour with "Mile Zero". Struck the tent, had some dinner with the wife and then settled in for the evening.
The bike chillin' at the beach
Home for the next 6 days.
The next morning I woke up at around 6am to the sound of birds chirping. I ate some food, got my tent and other stuff packed and hit the road a little before 8am.
We went through downtown St. Joseph and went north along 63, part of the Steelhead half Ironman route.
I chugged along passing several people and before I knew it I was already 1/4 of the way done and it had only been about a half hour. "I have to slow down", I thought to myself. The slight, but prevailing wind was pushing us from behind and the hills were rarely steep. The temperature was perfect. It felt good to be on a bike. It was difficult not to surrender to the siren call of the perfect cycling conditions. After a while I had passed so many people that I had to really pay attention to the street markings to make sure I didn't miss a turn. I got nervous a few times, but just as I was considering turning around or getting out the map I would find another marking on the road.
I ended up in Paw Paw at 10:30am and we weren't allowed to get our stuff or use the school facilities until noon. Mental note to self: "start late, go slow, and take many breaks tomorrow".
I went into downtown Paw Paw and found a cafe. "COFFEE!" my caffein deprived brain thought excitedly. I locked up the bike and waltzed on in high on life and ready for a latte, or cappuccino, or maybe an espresso, mmmmmmmmm... When I asked the waitress what kind of coffee they had at this cafe I felt like I was on the set of the Blues Brother's movie. "We have both kinds, regular and decaf", she replied. Maybe I'll *shudder* go to McDonalds tomorrow morning for my latte. (I'm still in denial, even though all evidence points to it, that I've become a coffee snob.)
After a very slowly consumed lunch I rode back to the middle school and found that a few more people had shown up. I surveyed the field where the tents would go and tried to come up with a strategy for tent location. Close to the restrooms, but not too close because there would probably be foot traffic throughout the night. Probably should stay away from the river and woods (mosquitos?). I picked out my spot, rested my bike and relaxed a bit.
At about noon the four moving vans with our luggage opened up and all the people who had been foolish enough to ride quickly were pressed into volunteer luggage removal. Mental note to self: "Remember the first mental note".
Tent up, shower taken, relaxation and reading commenced.
An ice cream truck arrives. 800 sweaty bike riders rejoice.
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