Friday, September 27, 2013

THE CIRCLE TOUR: Part 3 - The Dirty Twisties

- Some weeks ago we made a 913 mile trip around Lake Michigan, known as the Circle Tour. These are our trip logs. -

( Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 )

Part 3: The Dirty Twisties
Leg: Munising to Muskegon
Route: H-58 > Gran Marais > M-77 >Hiawatha Trail > Trout Lake Rd. > M-123 > I-75 > Mackinaw Bridge > M-31 > Head E. and pick up M-119 (Tunnel of Trees) > M-31
We hit the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula  with 3 hours worth of misting rain collected in our boots. The mood was anything but drab. The beauties of Michigan were just beginning to unfold and these next few days were going to be some of the most memorable of our trip. The landscapes we took in on this leg I previously thought were reserved for places like California’s Pacific Coast. Up here is the Midwest’s best kept secret.

There’s something to be said about traveling with a low powered bike. In my opinion the SR250’s 20hp was just about ideal. It’s limited power demands that you take your time and will always strongly suggest  the path less traveled. A top speed of 75 keeps you off the highways yet is enough to ensure ear to ear grins through the 30+ miles of dense twisties on H-58 (do NOT pass this road up). On this stretch alone I saw Kara progress from scrubbing off 10MPH at the turn entrance to hitting it at straight away speeds. It’s been said many times that it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow. Maybe it has to do with the feeling of invincibility you get from romping on a smaller machine. It’s like a toy right? Toy’s don’t hurt people. 

MI-58 lead us into Grand Marais, a dropped pin that had been recommended by just about everyone we talked to that had done the trip before. Our plan was to head another 11 miles east and set up camp at another recommended location called Blind Sucker. The name was comical at first yet would later reveal itself to be more of a definition. We headed out on MI-58 East, the only access road to our proposed destination. Within a couple miles the road condition took a real dive. It appeared they had made the road out of potholes.  It had become more comfortable to simply ride on the dirt shoulder, which turn out to be a precursor to the road that lied ahead. After 45min of this and just barely making it half way (an astonishing 5 miles) Kara came to a halt. Her expression was somehow of disgust and enlightenment. 

“This is the only road out there right?”


“And it’s supposed to thunderstorm tonight, right?”
An event I had actually been looking forward to experiencing in a tent until the consequences of our situation hit me at the same time I dragged out my “Yea…” response.
“And the nearest form of civilization is 11 miles from the campsite via a dirt crater path that’s about to be hit by an all night thunderstorm.”

We would end up turning around and spending the night in Grand Marais. There the owner of our motel kindly offered to keep our bikes in his barn across the street, out of the storm. That night we threw on our rain gear and made the trek out to the brewery at the center of town. Their beer turned out to be quite awful, a quality none of the Wednesday regulars seemed to comply with. Their pizza more then made up for it. Not looking forward to our mile walk back in the storm we stuck around to try a few of their bottled alcohols. 

We eventually made our way back into Michigan proper, setting up camp at the foot of the Mackinaw Bridge connecting the two lands. From there we swung out sharp West to pick up MI-119, known as the Tunnel of Trees. Picture a tunnel of trees…you got it. We were served a solid 22 miles of canopy cover on a single lane road that would break only to reveal gorgeous cliff side views of the lake.
From there we made our way down the coast to Muskegon where we picked up the ferry back to Milwaukee. In all we clocked about 913 miles over those 8 days. I couldn’t have been happier with our direction of travel and the paths we took. The sights got increasingly beautiful as we rode along from Wisconsin into Michigan. Sure, you can travel out west and be guaranteed to bathe in all of nature’s riches but there’s always such a great sense of fulfillment in discovering the gems within your own backyard. 


Kara and the SR250: are shown carrying the One Man Tent by Poler Stuff and the Pickwick Day Pack by Brooks England, supplied by Kaufmann Mercantile.
Dave and the CX500: are shown carrying the Pathfinder Sleeping Pad by Field & Stream, the Boulder Pack 2.0 by Lexdray and the Explorer's Cap supplied by Huckberry.
Both helmets are the Gringo by Biltwell.


  1. Great write up Dave, I can't wait until we can do a group ride/camping adventure next summer

  2. Couldn't agree more!!! And love the bike!!!

  3. hey dave, like your shield. which brand is it?

    1. It's from the 70's. I had to ship it over from the Netherlands.

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