A Very Cold visit to Coldwater

Photos from Coldwater Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 23:15:36 -0500 (EST)
From: Hope
Subject: Visiting Deerslayer, the cold road to Coldwater (long)

Hi all,

Well, I think my lessons for today are:

* 95 miles (each way) is a lot longer than it sounds.

* There's a world of difference between 45 degrees and sunny and 32 degrees and dark.

* I'm going to get a windshield real soon.

* There's a reason they're called the Irish *Hills*.

* Just like Mom always told me, it's always best to go to the bathroom when you have an opportunity. ;-)

I got in a little while ago from my trip today to Coldwater, and wow, was that fun. :-) even though I froze my ass off (or rather, my hands and feet), I had a great time, and discovered some neat little places along the way. I took U.S. 12 (Michigan Avenue) west from Saline, starting out around 10:30 AM this morning, and got home around 8:30 PM this evening... there were *many* stops along the way. After about 20 minutes on the road, not far past Saline, the cold started to get to me, and I began to wonder just how crazy I was to try to do this trip in near freezing weather. The next little town I came to was Clinton, and I looked for places to stop. I saw a place that looked way too high class to host bikers, called the Clinton Inn. I decided to give it a try anyway, and was surprised that not only did they let me in, but they have an amazingly good Sunday brunch, too. over eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles, and smoked salmon, and coffee, I began to warm up, and contemplated whether I wanted to head further on down the road. I checked my voicemail, and found a message from Deerslayer. I gave him a call, and we chat briefly about whether I'd have the guts to keep going -- I told him I'd call him back once I got a little further on down the road.

When I wandered back for a glass of juice, I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Dave Kaftan, a rider I'd met in my MSF course, and another victim of a midsummer crash. One steel plate later, his ankle was doing better. ;-) after finishing our respective brunches, we went out and sniffed tailpipes. It'd warmed up a little bit (it was about 1 PM), and I decided to keep going. First road sign I see that mentions Coldwater, I realize it's another 55 miles, a little further than I'd thought. Ugh. Oh well, we'll see...

Well, to make a long story shorter, I did keep going, and as I entered the "Irish Hills" area (basically south-central Michigan) discovered that my pithy 500cc's aren't really up to the combination of high winds and hills, especially sans windshield. Note to self -- buy a windshield soon. Anyone know where to get good deals on windshields? I noticed that my gas milage was getting pretty bad, probably due to the combination of the hills and the lack of windshield - I had been getting abou 47 mpg when tooling around the backroads near Ann Arbor (slower, prolly averaging 35mph), whereas my 50-60mph up & down hills seemed to be getting me a scant 30 or so mpg. Ah well...

Beautiful country. It got still warmer, and sunnier, and I discovered that U.S. 12 is a nicer road than I'd thought. Michigan Ave. is kind of boring and straight (ugh, what a combination ;) around my neck of the woods, and plenty commercial. But once it leaves civilization ;), it gets nice and swoopy, hilly, but not so intimidating for a newbie like me.

I laugh to myself as I pass by Rosie's RoadHouse in Jonesville (don't drink the coolaid, I say to myself) -- if we have a RoadHouse gathering 'round here, we clearly *must* go there. I'd have stopped to take a picture, but I was going too fast, and didn't feel like turning around.

Speaking of speed - the speedo is still not working. Ken & I checked it yesterday, and it is turning, and we oiled the cable - odo is fine, btw. So my gauging of my speed is entirely off the surrounding vehicles and my best guessing. ;)

Lo and behold, I enter Coldwater, and pull into the first parking lot I find to give Steve a call. He seems surprised that I actually made it this far. (So am I). I notice that the bank across the way shows 45 degrees, a great improvement. He lives about 7 miles outside of town, and invites me over for tea.

God, is it beautiful out there. Another 7 miles, then roll up into his driveway. He was out polishing stones in his nifty little shed-workshop, got a real sweet setup out there. Showed me some stones, which were quite lovely. What kind are they, I ask? - sex stones, sez he, and I look befuddled. Plain ol' fucking rocks (I paraphrase), sez he.

We chat over tea, compare atlases (his shows gravel roads, I'm envious; my Michigan Atlas & Gazetteer only indicates "unimproved" roads), and look at pictures of a stone heart pendant he gave to a friend on the computer, and then head outside to take some photos of Darkangel in her new configuration, since I hadn't had any yet. Thanks, Steve, I'd been itchin' to show her off to folks. :) Steve also points out some oil spattered behind the radiator on the front of the front cylinder, but, as he says, probably not enough to be really worried about right now. I'll check it out soon, though. Ugh, one more thing.

My regular webhost appears to be having problems, so I put the photos up on the umich one - just some mild retouching, but iffen you want to see 'em, here they are -


(Chip, feel free to put 'em on the site, if there's space & you feel moved to do so).

By now it's 4pm or so, and I'm getting worried about the ride back, so we say our goodbyes and I'm on my way. Some of the most gorgeous scenery so far, with the sun to my back it paints everything golden, and I see a lovely sunset in my rear view mirrors.

Then it starts to get dark, and cold, quick. I stopped & fueled up again in Jonesville, and the coffee and tea and so forth are catching up with me... and I discover just how uninhabited the area between Jonesville and Clinton is. Finally, I find a grocery store that takes pity on me, and, despite their "no public restroom" sign, they let me use the employee's one in back. Whew. ;)

More cold, more stops to warm hands. I fear deer, and scan the roadsides with extreme paranoia. Strangely, though, I find the curves that had been more intimidating during the day less so at night - maybe just because it's the second time around, or maybe because I'm more relaxed, who knows.

Stopped in Clinton again for what was probably the most leisurely meal I've ever eaten in McDonald's (ok, it was the first thing I could find, and I wasn't too picky by then), and I thaw out my toes and hands again. Met a nice guy, Joe, in army fatigues who introduces himself to me, and we chat briefly about bikes, and I wish him a happy Vet's day. It's neat, when you're a lone biker, people seem really friendly, and always want to chat. :)

Pulling out of McDonald's, I notice that my odo is being noisier than usual, and then I get this high-pitched "neeeeeeee". Pull over to the side of the road, and I discover that it's the tach, now, and if I move the housing around a bit, it goes away for a little while. Ah well. I guess I'll be tearing apart the instrument panel soon, good thing I have a spare as well.

Only 12 or so miles to Saline, then another 8 to Ann Arbor. The end is in sight. Yeehaw. I make good time, and stop briefly in Saline to warm my hands, and notice that the idle seems really high, weird. Uh oh, I never let out the choke since Clinton... d'oh.

Vroom, vroom, and I'm home again. I curse ever having told the management bitch that I'd shut off the bike at the street and wheel it in to the parking lot, as this time I hit the kill switch too soon, and have to push it uphill, and my legs are already jelly. Grr.

Ah, but it feels good to have my feet on the ground, safe and sound. Each time I go out, there's always that tension, and each time I make it back, there's that little bit of victory.

Hope, exhausted, but happy


'83 Honda Shadow VT500C

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