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Midwest/Great-Lakes touring suggestions

Old 12-22-05, 11:58 AM
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Midwest/Great-Lakes touring suggestions

We'd like to take a 5-6 day tour this summer. This would be our first tour using a tent rather than staying in B&Bs (although we may want to stay one night in a B&B). We're looking for something where we could drive from Dayton, OH USA to the starting point in 10 hours or less.

We will be on a tandem with a BOB trailer. We'd prefer the majority of the riding to be on paved roads. Our current thought is to drive to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, CAN and start touring from there - taking the ferry to Manitoulin Island. We only plan on riding an average of 30-35 miles a day. We'd 'like' a tour that is near water- but that is not a necessity. We'd prefer to stay at campgrounds (rather than just plopping the tent on anybody's land). Hilly and/or rolling terrain is OK. Our only previous touring experience is a 10-day tour in Ireland - using panniers and staying in B&Bs (on our own). Any suggestions for a great 175-200 mile tour that meets these criteria will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help!

SteveA
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Old 12-23-05, 12:16 PM
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Howdy -

It's been a while, but I sure enjoyed the U.P. when I was last there. It is a strange foreign country in between the U.S. and Canada inhabited by Yoopers. I would especially recommend the Keweenaw peninsula - site of major copper mining/shipping/smelting until it all came to a screeching halt about 1970. There are many campgrounds and the towns have nice B&Bs in old Victorian houses.

You can do a number of loops - but do include Copper Harbor and consider going down as far as Ontonagon. Porcupine Wilderness is just west of there. Also, you can take a ferry across Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park. Lake Superior is soooooo much nicer than the other four. The lakeshores of the other lakes are lined with ticky-tacky vacation cottages - not so Lake Superior. Plus all the copper in the water makes for spectacular sunsets on the water which reflects lavander and teal and all sorts of magnificent colors - that's colours in Canadian.

Anyhoo - just an idea.
Best - J

P.S. It is required that you MUST go into Lake Superior - even if only for 10 seconds - brrrrr!
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Old 12-23-05, 02:45 PM
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Not sure what you had in mind but the last week of july is ragbrai... its about 15 or so thousand people and we ride from the west side of Iowa to the east. It's a grand old time and alot of fun....If intrested check out www.ragbrai.org , don't worry about the registering thing. If you do decide on going just show up and ride.
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Old 12-23-05, 07:13 PM
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J

Thanks for the suggestion. I've got a Michigan DeLorme atlas here now (from the Library). It shows most back roads. I'll look at the UP in some detail. It is interesting that you mention Isle Royale. Initially we were looking for a route that would include a Great Lakes Island. When looking at all of the larger islands we found Manitoulin Island, in Lake Huron (more-less), to be one of the few with paved roads and a size that would allow at least three days of riding. Now, I am thinking that if we did a trip on the UP - we could still take the boat to Isle Royale and spend a night and then return to the UP. I imagine that we wouldn't ride much on Isle Royale - as the descriptions I've seen don't really show many roads (other than Jeep trails). If we did take a couple of days to go to Isle Royale - I guess that we could always leave our tandem on the mainland.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

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Old 12-23-05, 07:19 PM
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Coconut,

Thanks for the RAGBRAI suggestion. My wife's occupation is such that when recreating she likes to get away from people. 15,000 people would be her idea of an anti-vacation. We are somewhat different when it comes to cycling with others. She appreciates the quiet and the joy of not having to talk with anyone (other than me, but I'm a necessary evil). I pretty much interact with a keyboard and mouse all day - so I don't mind a little more human interaction.

Thanks again,

SteveA
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Old 12-23-05, 08:41 PM
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You can start in Michigan and ride that trail that goes along Lake Michigan: https://www.cyclotour.com/prod01.htm#'Round*%20Lake%20Michigan

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Old 12-23-05, 09:30 PM
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no bicycle use on trails in national parks, and Isle royale is one....I have no idea if they allow bikes on the island, period. Nobody gets to drive there except park personnel and the (TRW services run) resorts there.


Manatoulin (edited to reflect the Canadian island , not the other Mi island in lake huron-too many islands with french names, my mistake) island is fabulous. The upper peninesula is also georgous, maybe more the north and west, Lake superior bias.... The ride up the Keenewaw, to Copper harbor, along Brockway Mountain drive, then back along the north shore of the keenewaw, or over to ontogonan is a hidden gem in the US.

Great touring, its been so long I've forgotten the road conditions, but in the Keenewaw, its easy to avoid a lot of traffic, for the simple reason, there isn't much. Touring the UP on a bike that lets you ride two track and gravel roads is a big advantage.... some cyclocross knobbies on your tandem, perhaps?

Also, look at the Adventure Cyclist's great lakes loop. It's down around lake michigan, but you would get a chance to ride a great lakes ferry across lake michigan, historically a very important element in Great Lakes transportation.

And if you like B&B accomodations, there is a B&B in a lighthouse in Big Bay, michigan. 30 miles north of Marquette, MI. one of the few lighthouses people can stay at....might be worth a look. at the UP, Marquette, Houghton/Hanckock, and the Keenewaw.

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Old 12-23-05, 11:11 PM
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The following links are from several tours around the great lakes. Anyone of them offers many choices of mini or partial tours, some even include routing.
Lake Michigan Part of this route comes within a mile of me & I'd be glad to help you with details for this tour.
Lake Erie '03
Lake Erie
Lake Ontario

When you follow a link to the start of a journal, just click the "NEXT" link in the upper row of links to continue the story.

Or you you can click Bicycle Touring 101 bellow.
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Old 12-24-05, 12:47 PM
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The first two links say no server found. Are they correct links?

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Old 12-24-05, 01:50 PM
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There are no bicycles allowed at all on Isle Royal. It is about 95% wilderness area, and no vehicles of any kind are allowed (including bikes).
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Old 12-24-05, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by kevink159
There are no bicycles allowed at all on Isle Royal. It is about 95% wilderness area, and no vehicles of any kind are allowed (including bikes).
I've seen both park service and TRW golf carts and the like on the island, but not for use by the visitors... between Rock Harbor and the administration complex to the West, and towards the lodge.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:43 PM
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Thanks to all ...

Thanks to everyone for all of your suggestions and the information that you provided. I'll be off researching for a while ..

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Old 12-24-05, 03:55 PM
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Steve,

I'm not sure how it fits into your driving time constraint, but perhaps consider driving to Pittsburgh, and riding the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal. Starting in McKeesport (12 miles from Pittsburgh) to DC, it's all bike trail except for 15 miles between Frostburg and Cumberland.

There's designated biker campgrounds along the way, and a few B&B's.

There's a lot of info on the route, my fav. resource is:
www.atatrail.org
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Old 12-24-05, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
The first two links say no server found. Are they correct links?

Koffee
Sorry, I did test them before posting, but I see that they still don't work. Here they are as written in the adress bar for cut & paste.

https://bicycletouring101.com/RLMDayOne.htm

https://bicycletouring101.com/RLEWhyWouldIDoThis.htm

Another route is from the Bicycle Touring 101 home page, go to Table Of Contents (TOC) and scroll completely to the bottom. They are called "Round Lake Michigan/Tour de Relevance/Tour de Jamie AND Round Lake Erie/War of 1812/Tour de Jamie.
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Old 12-24-05, 08:08 PM
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Thanks! I am interested in doing this one day, most definitely. I wouldn't mind doing the Great Lakes Circle Tour either.

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Old 12-25-05, 06:16 AM
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Ed,

Thanks for your reply.

We were at the C&O last summer (riding in the area), but didn't ride any of it. The portion where we were (Harper's Ferry) was crushed limestone. Is this the case for the entire trail length?

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 12-25-05, 08:56 AM
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Steve -

The crushed limestone is as good as it gets on the C&O - there are plenty of dirt sections that get pretty goopy after heavy rains. I've done it on a touring bike - but a mountain bike would be better. It's a fabulous ride - with hiker/biker campsites by the river every 10 miles, wonderful scenery, historic sites, and nary a car to be had. The ATA/Yough Trail west of Cumberland has an overall better surface although I haven't been on the newest sections recently opened - including the B-I-G tunnel.

As for Isle Royale - bicycles are not allowed - you would need to arrange for a place to leave your bike before you depart. If you stayed in a B&B the night before or the night after, I'm sure thay would hold your bike for you. The entire island is managed as wilderness - remote, spectacular.

Best holiday wishes - J
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Old 12-25-05, 08:21 PM
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Thanks for the information J.

Steve
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Old 12-25-05, 09:40 PM
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personally i would go to madaline island a short ferry ride from bayfeild wi. nice roads very nice scenery big bay state park is very nice but non resident fee applies. my other suggestion would be to go to duluth mn. cheap cabin or hotel on scenic 61 and ride to two harbors mn. or work your way up along the shore there are some paved trails but for the most part the shoulders of the are quite wide. this is what im planning to do this summer the scenery the lake the cool breeze cant beat it cant wait. oh yeah try to plan around the grandmas marathon scenic 61 from duluth to two harbors is closed for the race
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Old 12-26-05, 07:21 AM
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Thanks for the information. I'll look in the WI & MN DeLorme atlas' for the areas that you described.
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Old 12-26-05, 01:17 PM
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I've circled Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan by bicycle. I am really looking forward to my future tours around Lakes Ontario and Superior.

If I was starting out with a plan to circle all five lakes I would probably plan to circle the lakes in this order.

Lake Ontario ==> Lake Erie ==> Lake Michigan ==> Lake Huron ==> Lake Superior

There are numerous reasons for this order but one of them is that I've developed an appreciation for moderately remote areas with fewer of the trappings of modern civilization. With Lake Erie I was always within range of a major city during any point in the tour. Lake Michigan had a couple of remote areas especially when cruising through the hillier inland areas of Michigan and Wisconsin. Lake Huron had more areas where you could go for a long way away from large cities or even small towns.

You will have wildlife opportunities around any of the lakes. I saw lots of baby deer near Lake Erie, a black bear while going around Lake Huron and my stealth camp site was enlivened when a red fox passed through momentarily as the day's last light appeared.

All three of the lakes so far have been very scenic and I've had the opportunity to meet numerous nice people.

Manitoulin Island is moderately hilly. It is possible to obtain a detailed island map at local variety stores once you are on the actual island. The ferry ride to the island from Tobermory is very beautiful and should be experienced during the daylight if possible. Highway 6 or 8 heading south from Tobermory is busy, shoulderless and should be ridden with care. Island roads are relatively low traffic. If you continue north off the island then you will visit the Le Cloud mountains before you reach the TransCanada highways. Highway 17 should also be handled with care if you decide to continue around Lake Huron. A helmet mirror makes a real difference in my experience!

I dream of my future tour around Lake Superior. 1300+ miles of road to tour, lots of hills and mini mountains. Numerous remote areas and I am very likely to see wildlife along the way. To top it all off it's on the Cross Canada route so I might just find that most elusive of creatures, the cross canada cyclist!

Any questions, please ask!

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Old 12-26-05, 04:10 PM
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Jamie,

Thanks for the information.

We ordered two detailed maps from the Canadian mapping department (topo etc.). It appears that a good number of roads on Manitoulin Island are dirt or gravel roads. We aren't sure whether there are enough paved roads to travel 30-40 miles a day for 5-6 days and keep our tour on the island. Do you have a feel for how much traffic there is on the paved roads (540, 541, 542 etc. series roads)?

Thanks and Best Regards,

Steve
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Old 12-26-05, 06:58 PM
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I rode the main paved highways on the island in a generally North to South direction. My impression of those roads was low to moderate levels of traffic. From discussions with others on the island it seems like I was riding on the busiest roads so the other roads should have even less traffic.

I've heard that you can circumnavigate the island in about three 100 - 120 km touring days. With your preferred daily distance this would likely work out to about six or seven days.

There is a tourist information group on the island. There is also something called the Spirit Circle Tour or something similar that you might also want to look into. I would suggest seeing if either or both groups can make suggestions.

There are concrete tippees that you can sleep in a South Baymouth if interested as well.

Several journals on Crazyguyonabike mention manitoulin island.

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