Birch Run, Michigan: In the US buzz builds for the upcoming Sony theatrical film East Pray Love, about a middle-aged woman who travels through Italy, India and Bali to discover life’s essence, distilling the experience into three primary functions. Well, this is a different story. This is a story about a middle-aged guy who returns to America to re-acquaint with his country and discovers that life on the road can be distilled into three primary actions: eating, pedaling and sleeping. That pretty much sums up my life right now. Occasionally I blog and do bike maintenance, and when there’s a pretty barn or an ice cream shop nearby I get excited. But much of my day — every day — has been reduced to: Eat. Pedal. Sleep.
Psychologists say repetition of an action becomes habitual after thirty days. Five weeks into this bike ride, Eat Pedal Sleep is habit. It’s what I do. Everything else is extraneous.
Today’s 76 mile ride through the Michigan heartland is a good illustration. The terrain was almost flat as a pancake, with a mixture of farmland, light suburbia and some forest. Due to the possibility of precipitation, I cut out the dillly-dallying to get to Birch Run before the rain, which never came.
I woke up hungry and was eating by 6am, which continued throughout the day as I worked to satisfy my body’s hypermetabolic fuel needs. Food is fuel, and the priority is quantity, not quality. That hit home during lunch, when I had just barely finished my sandwich as I asked some fellow riders: when’s dinner? I’m always looking out for the next meal or grazing opportunity.
After dinner tonight, for our daily ice cream fix, NJ Mark, Margot, Katie and I ventured to Tony’s, a restaurant in Birch Run that has become an institution for supersized portions, like the BLT sandwich which uses a pound of cooked bacon. The supersized diners at one nearby table told us they drove five hours to eat here. (And you may wonder why Americans are overweight?).
For dessert we shared a Banana Split, which uses a half-gallon of ice cream. It was so big our server warned us to be careful so it doesn’t topple over. The four of us, even with our healthy appetites, only finished about half of the banana split. After this gluttony I felt dirty and wanted to take a shower. It was that gross.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression. When not eating or sleeping I do pedal. Today I pedaled just over four hours (not counting a few brief stops); yesterday’s leisurely century plus ride involved about seven hours of pedalling. By the end of tomorrow I will have pedaled 2,900 miles since June 21. Just thinking about it makes me tired.
Which leads to Sleeping. On this trip we do a lot of it to help the body recover from all that eating and pedalling. On this trip the norm is early to bed and early to rise, so the cycle can repeat. Eat. Pedal. Sleep.
Day 38 Summary:
Day 38 route: Mt Pleasant to Birch Run, MI
Day 38 mileage: 75.6 miles
Cumulative mileage: 2,834.6 miles
Day 38 Climbing: 625 feet
Cumulative Climbing: 81,435 feet of climbing
Terrain: flat farmlands; some forest