Subject: Wanderlust 8 - Dexter, Michigan
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 1997 21:48:20 -0700
Wanderlust 8 - Dexter, Michigan
"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike."
- John Steinbeck, American Writer, (1902-1968)
First let me redeem the reputations of Michigan roads. The sinuous stretches and invigorating inclines of the northwestern Lower Peninsula *are* inspiring. All it takes is the gracious services of a local tour guide to expose the best of the hidden treasure.
This morning I had the distinct pleasure of meeting IBMWR President Tom Barnhart who generously gave up his Sunday and rode up from his home in Traverse City just to escort me down the coast. (By the way, I forgot to ask Tom if the people hereabouts would be called Lowpers or Ellpers in context with Yoopers? I don't think so. But he did write to me once that "in the lower peninsula we're all trolls, because we live below the bridge". :) Never having met, it was nonetheless simple for us to recognize each other. His was the only brown K100LT and mine was the only black K75RT at the appointed place ... in fact ours were the only vehicles in the lot. This "old new" friend stuff really works. We greeted for the first time as one would for a frequent encounter - and then *together* immediately fell into answering questions for a fellow who came up to say he used to have a 78 R100 ... where are the cylinders on these BMWs?
In the best sense of exploration, we followed some roads Tom had never ridden in his own 'back yard'. There is still some gravel in the corners from the winter, but the "tree tunnel" of a well surfaced, unlined "narrow winding road next 14 miles" worked out beautifully. It allowed glimpses through the trees to beaches and coast as it hugged a ledge along the lake. Very nice. Tom told me the road from Cross Village to Harbor Springs is one of the most scenic in Michigan - and I am not going to dispute it. Then dropping off the marked route, we went around Torch Lake, which should be marked scenic but isn't.
My compliments to Tom for showing only the best of his turf. He is a capable rider, a pleasant person, and a certified devotee to BMWs - even if he's only had his for a year!
Although ... I may remember this as Tom's Turkey ride. :) Early in the ride and again nearly at the end we passed a passel of wild turkeys crossing the road. That got me to wondering (uh, oh, not again) what the proper collective noun is for turkeys ... and then what would be the proper collective noun for a group of motorcycles? For example: one could speak of a 'blatt of Harleys', or a 'clatter of Ducatis' (desmodromic valves make quite a racket at idle), or perhaps a 'puddle of Nortons', or an 'accessory of Gold Wings' - but what would you call BMWs? How about (borrowing from the German Autobahn) a 'bahn of Beemers'?
Leaving Tom in mid afternoon, I dropped south to keep a promise to visit a friend. Although I know many of the various General Motors vehicles are named the same as towns in this area, I wonder what the story must be behind choosing a particular town name. For example, I happened to be passing Cadillac, so I veered through to see if it matched the image of the car. Hmmm. Why that name and not another town nearby ... imagine: Look at this year's new model Dinca ... or, Here's the 1998 Loxley. It doesn't make sense, so it must be marketing. (But in scanning the map I also notice Remus is nowhere near Romulus.) Road tharn was setting in.
Central Michigan is a pleasant agricultural terrain that belies the congestion and industrial concentration lurking in Motor City. It almost appears the center of the state serves only to keep the lakes apart. Even though this was a sunny, quiet Sunday, everyone on the road was in a big hurry to get somewhere else. I had no velocity exposure holding 70 on roads posted at 55.
(Discretionary reader warning: product endorsement :) This is where the FuelPlus really came into its value for me. I am not selling anything, but as I told Tom, who is about to install his own F+, it is the second most important feature you can add to a K bike after a comfortable seat. Whereas there are style and construction differences in seats to make it a personal choice as to which is best, there is no competition, literally or figuratively, for a F+. I'll give detail for those who ask, but the value it offered is that it let me precisely measure the effects of my speed and gas consumption variables so I could match my arrival time against the distance to cover. I covered the 197 miles from gas-up to my friend's house, arriving precisely on the estimated time, and knowing confidently there was 32 miles-worth of gas remaining even though the fuel warning light had been on for 27 miles. This is 'a good thing' which gives ultimate truth to the phrase YMMV.
After arriving at my friend's and catching up on old times, we discussed some of my stories so far. She told me one of her own about the Internet affecting lives. A relative of hers and the relative's spouse, who 'met' each other on the Internet, actually met for the very first time in real life _at_the_altar_ for their wedding. "To keep the relationship pure." Seriously.
I am reminded again of small town charm. This is a typical American scene of a modest downtown at a crossroads, an expansive lawn around the central bandstand, and the soft-swirl ice cream stand with garish neon lights glowing brightly in the fading sunset and attracting a long line of lingering lickers. The simple little police station sits overseeing the town square ... except this police station, housing a staff of only two, has a sign on the door: "If the door is locked, use the pay phone around the corner to call 911 and a deputy will be sent to assist you." Have we come to self-service emergency?!
A final administrivia comment. Having been on the road for 8 straight days is not in itself tiring because the bike is commendably comfortable, however staying up to midnight or beyond to write the report and read comments is draining. Don't be surprised if I skip a day or two occasionally ... that's why the reports are labeled by number and not by day (which just happen to match so far).
FuelPlus statistics: 395 miles, 7:32 engine run, 53 mph average
Sam Lepore, San Francisco, 1988 R100RT and 1995 K75RTA