July 2, 2016
Route: Paw Paw, MI to South Haven, MI and back
Distance: 74 miles
Bikes: Soma Stanyan & Soma Grand Randonneur
It’s 4th of July weekend and the weather is great! My brother and I had been planning on undertaking a long training ride from Paw Paw to Lake Michigan and back. What was especially exciting about this ride was the uncharted territory that we would be riding. While our family has been visiting South Haven for years, we had never biked there from the family lake house. Traveling on new roads and routes is always enjoyable since they are accompanied by new sights and terrain. One consequence of riding new roads is the “unknown” factor, however. About 10 miles into the ride (seems to be a theme!), we stopped to grab a quick drink and shed some layers. We had just crested a hill and began to roll down a gentle slope. As we talked casually, the sound of a barking dog disrupted our conversation. As we glanced left, a dog charged off the porch of a road side home and bolted towards us on the road. We’ve had dogs run after us before but never like this. Our ride speed increased as our adrenaline kicked in. As we sprinted our hearts out, the dog kept pace. While the chase my have only lasted a minute, the event stuck with us for the entire day. It’s moments like this that make a ride memorable (for good or worse). With the dog incident behind us, we pressed on to South Haven. Our goal was to not make any more stops until we reached the lake. Doing so was a good way to train for longer mileage in the saddle.
Via the newly paved section of the Van Buren Trail, we made our way into South Haven. The downtown section was busy with vacationers on the holiday weekend. We stopped in town for some lunch and brought it with us to the lake shore. On our way, we took a detour down by the harbor. As we watched boats enter and exit, one of these vessels caught our eye.
After taking in the sights by the harbor, we enjoyed our sandwiches at some benches which offered great views of the lake and lighthouse.
While difficult to leave views like this behind, we got back on the bikes and made our return trip to Paw Paw. We used a slightly different route to get back, giving us more opportunities to enjoy the quite county roads of southwest Michigan. At one point, our route took us on a section of gravel roads. While challenging at times, its always fun to change up the riding surface on longer trips. Our return journey was pleasant thanks to low winds, fair temperatures and no dog chases! With the miles ramping up on our training rides, we continue to prepare for even longer rides in the future. It can be difficult at times to get one’s mindset, the weather and a good bike route to all sync up at once. Luckily, this day brought all these together, resulting in a fantastic summer time ride.