Friday, December 28, 2007

Lake Michigan Pier to Pier Beach Ride

Shore Line MTB Ride
21.0mi, 1:53hrs

Looking south down Lake Michigan shoreline from Castle ParkOnce in a while conditions set up for beach riding here on Michigan's western shore. Despite the recent thaw, it dipped just enough below freezing overnight for the damp beach sand to develop a frozen crust on top. Mom lives just a few miles from the lake. I dropped down to the shoreline at Castle Park (where I worked as a grounds keeper one summer around 1982). Some winters, the sand is just that, loose beach sand and completely unrideable. Other winters, it's completely piled up with mountains of ice from the 20ft waves that winter storms can create. Today, it wasn't exactly like riding rock hard pavement like I enjoyed a few years ago, but still very manageable with easy effort. I had studded tires on but there were no icy sections.The Saugatuck channel

The lake was very calm with a winter storm coming across from Chicago. Lots of seagulls about, and zillions of zebra muscles washed up on shore. These didn't exist in the Great Lakes when I was a kid, but ocean going freighters brought them in several years ago. With nothing to check the explosive colonization of the great lakes, the muscle shells are now feet deep in places and plugging up municipal water supply intakes. The good thing that has come about from zebra muscle infestation is they have cleaned up the lakes. The lakes used to be highly polluted. The muscles tend feed on what makes fresh water yucky and have accelerated human efforts to clean up the great lakes. The water is much clearer these days.

Big Red lighthouse on Holland's pier
I rode south to the Saugatuck pier, seven miles of uninterrupted shoreline with infinite water to the right, and towering sand dunes to the left. The sky had an ominous hue of darkness about it. From Saugatuck, I turned around and went north to the Holland pier. There is a famous lighthouse there called Big Red. By now it was beginning to snow. Over 6" is possible, which should make for much improved skate skiing conditions by Saturday or Sunday.

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