Keeping it Simple on a Mid-Semester Break

An early-autumn respite from academic life, enjoyed along quiet roads from southeast Michigan to northwest Ohio and back again.

Bicycle Adventurer: Scott Elliott, solo, on his first Bike Overnight.

When: October 2015

Accommodations: Harrison Lake State Park in Ohio.

Distance: Over two days, I rode roughly 108 miles. Although the park is only about 35 miles from my home, I opted for scenic routes both directions.

Bonus tip for this adventure: Harrison Lake State Park is a beautiful place in a very quiet area, though a reasonably sized town is only five miles away. If pressed, I'd have to say the highlights of this particular trip were the two places I found to eat along the way: lunch at Karen's Uptown Kafe in Hudson, Michigan on day one, and breakfast at Tiffany's Cafe in Wauseon, Ohio on day two.

Day One:
I left my house shortly after dropping off my daughters at school. As so many of my bike trips do, this ride began on my local bike path. The sun was shining and the air was warm, but I was riding into pretty fierce headwinds all day. That, coupled with hills and camping gear, made for a tough go. But I was smiling and snapping pictures the entire time, hard-pressed to think of any place I would have rather been. 

The roads in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties are quiet and treat travelers to beautiful landscapes made up of centennial farms, rolling fields, and colorful croplands. Winding roads dappled with bright light breaking through the rich tones of fall foliage made everything feel crisp, and sharp, and alive. While I would ordinarily be inclined to fight the wind, this time around I allowed it to slow me down, and repeatedly reminded myself why it was I was making this particular journey. 

After a couple of hours, I reached Hudson, where I had lunch at a diner, complete with homemade cherry pie. Before leaving town, I stopped by Subway to pick up dinner. The leg between Hudson and Harrison Lake State Park incorporated a number of unpaved roads, which are common in this area of Michigan, and I've come to love riding them immensely. 

I reached the campground just before 3:00 p.m. I pitched my tent, spent some time walking around the park and enjoying views of the lake from various bench swings, read, relaxed, and had one of the best night's sleep I've had in a very long time.

Day Two:
I awoke a little later than usual, made coffee, and took my time breaking camp. The skies were grey and the temperature much cooler than the day before. I rolled out about the same time I had the day before, and made my way to Wauseon, Ohio where I found another fantastic diner and had a very hearty breakfast. This section of Ohio and most of the way back to my starting point in Adrian, Michigan is flat and open, so it made for a pretty easy return trip. I stopped in Lyons, Ohio for a hot chocolate, which always seems to taste better in the middle of a bike ride on a chilly day. Soon I was back on familiar roads and no longer paying attention to my cue sheet. As much as I didn't want the trip to end, I arrived home around 2:00 p.m. But I spent most of those final miles planning my next trip.

Your favorite local bike shop? My only local shops are Adrian Locksmith & Cyclery (611 N Main St, Adrian, MI 49221) and Re-Bicycle Lenawee (313 E Maumee St, Adrian, MI 49221).

Bike overnight tips and tricks? I kept the trip simple and my packs light by foregoing cooking gear and food (though I still brought an ultra-lightweight Caldera Keg Stove and other items needed to make coffee). Stopping at local diners for meals not only gave me a chance to support independently-owned small businesses in out-of-the-way towns; it also extended the bike riding portion of the trip.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

1 response so far ↓

Jerry Frey - Dec 3, 2015 at 11:49 AM

I grew up near Wauseon and take my bike with when I visit there. If you like fresh baked goods and homemade like bread you might want to alter your route to go by Sauder village next time. There is a campground and restaurant at Sauder village as well. It's at junction of routes 66 and 2.

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