Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Features · A world class ride/ Gaylord to...
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A world class ride/ Gaylord to Mackinaw

Robert Downes - August 25th, 2008
This sure seems like a good place to run into a bear, you think as you roll through the forest north of Vanderbilt. The bike trail skirts the Pigeon River Forest and the trees are thick as a jungle on either side of the path, which runs like an arrow through the green.
Alas, there are no bear sightings today, but tomorrow you spot a porcupine waddling along the new Gaylord-to-Mackinaw Rail Trail, which is a dream come true for Michigan cyclists.
The 62-mile trail opened in the fall of 2007, wending its way through deep forests and along the Sturgeon River and Mullett Lake, all the way from Gaylord to Mackinaw City. Paved with crushed limestone and about eight feet wide, the sparkling white trail is smooth and fast -- ideal for mountain bikes or hybrid cycles (no skinny tire bikes need apply, unless you’re up for a wobbly, white-knuckle ride). In the winter, the trail becomes a pathway for snowmobiles.
The Top of Michigan Trails Council reports that the route has already become “one of the premier cycling trails in the Midwest,” and any weekend rider is sure to become a swift believer.
Running along an old rail corridor, the trail was made possible through a $2 million federal trail enhancement grant obtained by the Michigan Department of Transportation, in addition to many local contributions.
A TWO-DAY RIDE
The trailhead is located a mile north of Gaylord at the soccer field on Fairview Road, just off Old M-27. You park overnight at the field alongside the cars of other riders.
The seven-mile ride to Vanderbilt is surprisingly fast. And before you know it, you’re in Wolverine, another 10 miles or so farther on. Here, you spot kayakers paddling down the Sturgeon River, which runs for several miles along the trail.
The stretch to Indian River is one of the most scenic in terms of wild country. But what’s this? Signs of civilization: a Burger King greets you as you roll out of the forest at Indian River, and just across the way lies a McDonald’s. Oh well, a little coffee and a sandwich can’t hurt a weary rider...
Farther on lie the tony cabins of Topinabee and then 15 miles of Mullett Lake’s shoreline. Hmm... should you take a splash at the park in your cycling shorts? No, pedal on, pedal on...
Hard to believe, but with a full load of camping gear on your poorly-fitting mountain bike, you start to tire outside of Cheboygan, with Mackinaw City still 12 of the longest miles you’ve ever ridden in the distance. You feel out of place in Mackinaw City, walking around in your sweaty cycle clothes amid scads of tourists and their kids. Fortunately, a spaghetti dinner is regenerative, as is a camping berth at Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping about three miles from town.
After a refreshing dip in Lake Huron, you find yourself riding through dreamland as the sun goes down outside your tent. (Memo to self: be sure to stay at one of Mackinaw City’s budget hotels next time, instead of dragging along all this danged heavy camping gear...)

BE PREPARED
Those who plan to ride the trail are advised to be prepared for any situation. The consequences of poor planning sink in the next morning as you roll into Cheboygan with air hissing out the side of your tire.
There’s nothing worse than a sidewall flat, since it can’t be fixed with duct tape, and replacing the tube will simply result in another blow-out in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, you learn that there are no bike shops in Cheboygan -- the nearest store is 30 miles away. Fortunately, there is a humongous K-Mart, and they sell bike tires reinforced with Kevlar. You buy two and are soon back on your way.
But what’s this? For some reason it’s tougher going back, and you have to ride in an easier gear. Reason? Mackinaw City is at 590 feet above sea level, but Gaylord is at 1,349 feet elevation. That means you climb 759 feet on the way back, with most of that elevation being the last stretch between Wolverine and Gaylord.
But somehow you make it, waving to fellow cyclists on the way back. You’ve rolled through half a dozen towns and some of Northern Michigan’s most scenic forests -- a fine weekend adventure, and all free, one might add. This is one trail you don’t want to miss if you love cycling.

For information on the trail, check out the Top of Michigan Trails Council website at www.trailscouncil.org. The site includes a map and notes on each stretch of the trail along the route.
 
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