Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1979: Touring in the UP, Part 2

Leaving St. Ignace, 1979
My riding plan for the week was simple, 4 days out, and 3 days back, riding the UP shoreline when I could, counter-clockwise. My first day would be 60 miles of biking east to Detour Village, there to catch a ferry to Drummond Island, and another 8 miles to the only campground on the island. At that time, Drummond Island was a sleepy collection of cabins and campgrounds and a massive limestone mine, feeding the steel mills along the the Great Lakes, and little else. Thankfully I had picked up dinner and breakfast before leaving DeTour Village, since nothing was open on the island, and even the campground was on the honor system. I wouldn’t see or speak to anyone until the ferry crossing the next morning.

Drummond Island Ferry, 1977
My next days riding was to Sault Ste. Marie. After my early morning ferry trip back to DeTour Village, I headed north and west along the UP back roads, through a mix forest and farm land. As I rode, an occasional B-52 jet would fill the sky overhead from a nearby US Air Force base. Cars were infrequent, and I only passed trough a few small town, “grazing” for food at grocery stores along the way, picking up sandwiches, fruit and snacks.

I arrived early and found a campground right on the river front, just down river from the locks. I then spent the afternoon on a tour boat going through the locks, before settling down for the night in tent. The campground was unique in that across the river was Canada, and 700-foot long ships would pass by during the night, just a few hundred yards from the door of my tent.

After breaking camp the the next morning, I crossed into Canada for a few hours of riding before heading back across into the US. The crossing was quite easy, just a drivers license and a couple questions crossing each way. It was also an exciting ride on the International Bridge, which was high enough over the locks and St Mar’s river to clear all shipping traffic, with the international border in the middle of the bridge, over 125 feet in the air.
North Bound, International Bridge `79

Leaving downtown Sault Ste. Marie after lunch, a half dozen kids on 20” bikes began following me, riding on the sidewalks along the main street leading up from the river, a long gradual climb. I think they thought the guy on the loaded bike was a challenge to race, as the first pulled ahead of me the sidewalk. I maintained a steady pace, and they continued to follow me for a couple of miles, though I had the edge in endurance. It was fun sport. I then began riding south inland, finally before heading west for a night at Brimely State Park, to watch an hours long sunset over Lake Superior and Whitefish Bay finish at after 11 PM.
(I have included pictures from a 3-day trip from 1977, since I have not completed scanning the `79 slides.)

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