Miles to Date: 1,731
States to Date: 8
June 4, 2015 – Sunny, 75 degrees
I rose early. My warmshowers hosts left me the best sesame seed bread ever to kickstart my day, and I slipped out of their driveway shortly after six. The first twelve miles of my ride was along the Falling Waters Trial, a rail trail through dense woods and past beautiful lakes. I saw only one other cyclist, but a dozen deer. I took a local road from Concord to Albion, riding under a canopy of huge trees with rolling fields beyond me on either side. Albion is a small college town, and the outskirts are littered with offbeat, Modernist houses college professors seem to favor. Unfortunately, the historic downtown is not as interesting. Most of the storefronts are empty and though I craved a local diner for breakfast, my only option was Subway.
I pedaled on to Marshall, which proved a sharp contrast. Marshall is happening! Why do some towns founder while others thrive? Marshall’s main street is full of stores, both useful and hip. The central fountain is gorgeous, the eclectic nineteenth century architecture impressive. But most important, there are people everywhere. Downtown is the place to go.
On a whim, I stopped at the American Museum of Magic. Harry Blackstone, a famous magician, set up his summer quarters in nearby Colon, and ever since this area has been the world’s center of magicianship. Every summer over 1,000 magicians convene in Colon to trade secrets (or not) and the American Museum of Magic and its archives contain almost a million artifacts, including a 1584 Book of Sorcery (supposedly used by Shakespeare as a reference for Macbeth) as well as Houdini’s lock box and Penn & Teller’s suits. Since, as one on the text plaques states, “Magicians are paid liars – always trying to convince people something is happening when it’s not”, I enjoyed it all but didn’t take it too seriously.
Too bad I was full from my Subway meal, as Marshall is full of great looking places to eat. Still, I couldn’t resist Louie’s, a vintage 1952 bakery on Main Street. The cases were full of great looking stuff, but the entire back wall was filled with racks that I could tell, by sheer volume, held the house specialty. I ordered a nut roll, which Jessica and Wendi insisted on giving me free when they heard about my journey. Within minutes, there were six or eight people in the store, all comparing the virtues and vices of Louie’s nut rolls. As a cyclist who needs to consume many calories a day, I can tell you the virtue of this delicious sweet far exceed any vice.
The ride along Verona Road into Battle Creek was pleasant. I arrived in time for my 2 p.m. appointment with Don Scherencel, Director of Historic Adventist Village, where I learned about yet another religion birthed in upstate New York’s ‘Burnt over District’, that moved to Battle Creak and has flourished there since the Civil War. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, health and exercise fanatic who first invented Corn Flakes (though his brother made the famous cereal company) was a Seventh Day Adventist. The Welcome Center is full of Dr. Kellogg’s exercise machines.
It was four by the time I started my final stretch to Kalamazoo. The map showed 22 miles, mostly along the Kalamazoo Rive. All true. However, the stretch was industrial, heavily trafficked and had little shoulder. Since it was late and I was tired, I took several breaks to stay centered. Luckily, there was a nice bike path for the last eight miles into Kalamazoo.
I arrived at my warmshowers host’s house a little late but none the worse. David Bere is a local 20-year-old bicycle enthusiast. Last summer he cycled 6,000 miles through the Northern U.S. and Canada. Now he works at the University of Western Michigan Center for Sustainability and vows “to never own a motorized vehicle.” It was greet to meet a young man of such passion. His mother, a native of Kalamazoo, made an incredible meal for us, and we spent a few hours looking at the photos and maps of David’s trip before heading off to bed.