Bike Like – North Lake Leelanau Loop

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8-27-13 biking 2-1As much as I hate to admit it, summer is winding down. It’s harder to gauge these kinds of things happening since my biological clock is no longer aligned with a regimented school year, even though I’m living in a four-season environment. August always coasts in nice and easy, and this August is no different: the lake is warm, the air is hot, and it feels like the beauty will last forever…until about this time, when I recognize that it’s Labor Day weekend already and September is on its way. Fingers crossed the weather stays this fantastic to see us into October!

The saddest thing to me about summer ending is realizing that my daily bike commutes to work and around town are about to get a lot more cold, a lot more wet, and unfortunately a lot less frequent. When we lived in town, I would try to ride my mountain bike on the streets in the snow, but without studded tires it was basically a mess and took me twice as long–if not more–to get to work. (A common misconception about winter bike commuting: it’s not the snow that’s bad, it’s that light brown-ish snow where the snow has mixed with the sand and salt to create some super slick substance that is absolutely deadly to try and navigate on a bike. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wiped out on that stuff. Ick!)

So, in an effort to combat all that wintery-wettery, I am trying to get on my bike(s) as often as possible. I’ve kicked up the commuting and try to pull out my road bike, Annabelle Lee, for some good long-distance rides.

Annabelle Lee, kickin' it lakesideAnnabelle Lee is the greatest investment I’ve ever made in terms of satisfying my curiosity, restlessness, and healthy habits. She is a true beauty and we’ve had three years and a lot of miles together, and hopefully many more of both. After riding my heavier hybrid bike for commuting every day (a very versatile bike, and incredibly reliable), a ride on Annabelle is like flying through the air, or coasting on water. It is the most natural and invigorating feeling, and the connection I feel with my bike is probably borderline creepy. Still, nothing beats a summer cruise on Annabelle.

Which is why when Sam proposed a bike ride this past Saturday morning, I was all geeked to go…until suddenly, I wasn’t. We got a late start on the day, not leaving for the ride until 10 a.m. and then driving 20-30 minutes to our starting point, and for some reason my heart just wasn’t it. I wasn’t even trying to find any excuses about why we shouldn’t go; I just flat-out didn’t feel like it.

I still have no idea why this happened. Biking is second nature to me, and normally I put off doing other more important things for the sake of a nice long bike ride in beautiful Leelanau County or up Old Mission Peninsula. I griped about it to Sam for a bit before I realized that this was my problem, and I really needed to just suck it up and live it up while we still have this perfect weather for biking and open roads to explore.

Some small issues came up, like needing to fix my chain after the first pedal stroke and then having my hands coated in grease the entire ride or suddenly realizing I was about to bonk if I didn’t eat something immediately, but there was something seriously nagging at me the whole ride that I couldn’t push aside and I’m not sure what it was.

Was it stress over the wedding next weekend? Was it some kind of chemical imbalance from last night’s dinner or breakfast that morning? Was I not rested enough? I still have no idea. All I kept saying to myself was, “Hey, you’re here now and this is what you’re doing, and a lot of people out there would be grateful to do what you have the freedom and liberty to do right now. Enjoy this!” Yet the harder I tried, the more forced the whole thing seemed. Sam called me out on it, and told me to get over it, too, and I tried to explain that I was just in a funk and I was trying–honestly–to get myself out of it. By midday, long after our bike ride, I was finally able to get up out of whatever hole I was in, but it still bothers me that I couldn’t target the root of my problem.

Still, I am very glad we were able to get the ride in, and I’m glad Sam forced me to do it. It really was a gorgeous, perfect day for riding (a bit hot, but Sam’s right in that I didn’t notice it once I had the cool wind in my face), and for how many hills we encountered and despite my bad mood we made great time.

8-27-13 biking 4-1We did a loop around North Lake Leelanau, starting in Suttons Bay and working our way clockwise around the lake. At one point we were on this beautiful, secluded road on the east side of the lake (of course my phone died then so I couldn’t snap any pictures of it) and it made me feel like I live in the most pristine place in the world. It was quite humbling.

8-27-13 biking 12I’ve already made up my mind that the next bike ride we have the luxury to take–and yes, there will be another one!–will be better, and I will make it worth every minute I’m on that bike. The next few weeks are too precious to waste moping and griping about whatever mental or emotional blocks I’m carrying with me. We have the time we have, and it’s not worth wasting over something petty. My apologies to Sam, of course, for me being such a sourpuss instead of fully appreciating all the beauty around us. Exploring with you is not something I want to take for granted, and I will learn from this for the future.

Do yourself a favor and take a bike ride soon…the fresh air does a body and mind good!

8-27-13 biking 2

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