I awoke to the muffled sound of screams.
"Mmmm...aaHh...iZ YER A BITchhh..."
"HhhggddAaa...kkare of your fucKING KIds!"
I exited my room at the America's Best Value Inn. The quarreling couple was in plain sight. He yelled at her from the doorway of his room. She stormed away towards an SUV that appeared to have arrived for the purpose of picking her up. His verbal assault continued as she entered the vehicle and departed. This was a side of Battle Creek that was new to me, though I'm sure it wasn't actually new at all.
Today I rode due West through Kalamazoo to Bangor, Michigan. The ride got off to a great start. I was thrilled to discover that the bulk of today's ride would take place between two trails, the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and the Kal-Haven Trail. As I rode on the KRVT I was relieved to not have to share the bike lane with any automobile traffic. This definitely helped to put my mind at ease.
As I entered into Kalamazoo I stumbled upon a thrift store/ consignment shop/ yard sale/ antique shop that I had to check out. It had a homemade sign reading, "The Rabbitt Hutch" and old school Michigan gear hanging in the store front. The place was one a kind. It was funky, confusing, lost in time and had tons of character. I sifted through shelves of stuff.
I was tended to by the nice couple that ran the place. They were really excited to meet someone that was doing a cross country bike ride. They shared stories of their family and asked all sorts of questions. As we chatted I found two neat pins that I wanted to purchase. The lady told me I could have them for a buck. I asked if she had change for a 20. She lamented that she didn't. I think she sensed how attached I was to the Michigan NOW and McNugget Mania pins, so she just let me have them. It was really nice of her. She followed up by asking if there was anything I needed for the trip. She ran to the back and grabbed a children's XL 2002 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings t-shirt. She offered it to me as a gift. Needless to say I wear the shirt every night and it is hands down the toughest shirt that I own.
This is one of the greatest parts of riding cross country. I feel like I'm a member of Team America and EVERYONE is on my team. I've never done something where absolutely everyone I meet is so supportive. It really brings out the best in people. If I approach someone and say, "Hey can I get five bucks for a hotel room?" then they will probably tell me to go screw myself or just not acknowledge me. However, if I approach the same person wearing my bike uniform and say, "Hey I'm doing a cross country bike trip do you know somewhere I can sleep tonight?" then they will probably spend the next 30 minutes calling five of their closest friends to figure out if someone can put me up for the night, and they'll probably give me a Detroit Red Wings shirt too. This ride is helping me to discover the best side of so many people.
I passed through Kalamazoo to get to the Kal-Haven Trail. Kalamazoo was weird. I don't know how to describe the place so I'm not going to try. It was something.
The rain picked up as I rode the trail. I enjoyed riding on this crushed limestone path. It gave me flashbacks of my beloved C&O Canal.
About ten miles East of my destination I turned on to some dirt road. There was a sign that warned me of "WATER OVER ROAD." That seemed fine. I imagined a gentle stream trickling over a clearly defined dirt road. I could handle that.
Two miles later I arrived at the portion of the road that the sign referred to. This was not what I was expecting. Perhaps a more accurate sign would have read, "ROAD COMPLETELY UNDER FUCKING WATER." That verbage I believe would have more accurately portrayed the severity of the situation. I really didn't want to turn back, so I rolled up my pant legs and pushed my bike through the pond. At its deepest the water came up to my knees. Oh, and it was freezing.
By the time I got to my hostess' home in Bangor I was filthy. I felt like I needed to be hosed down. Dirt was caked all over the Surly...and my body. It was fine though. My hostess, June, was very understanding. She provided me towels to clean my gear and a shed to stash all my stuff. Thank goodness.
Night arrived in Bangor, Michigan aka Pickle City. And it wasn't just any night in this town of 1,800, it was Saturday night. I treated myself to a Saturday night extravaganza by getting dinner at Mcdonald's. One chicken sandwich, some french fries and two apple pies later I was drained of all motivation to live. I had again been deceived by McNugget Mania. I returned to my hostess' home and slept.