Today was the first day that I started riding without breakfast. It had stormed all night and, while the streets were still wet, it wasn’t raining when I got up so I figured if I hurried I might beat another day in the rain. I did.
The ride itself was nice and easy. The wind was calm and the hills were small. Since I had started without breakfast, I stopped around 25 miles in Menominee for pancakes at McDonald’s. As I went to sit down near a window from which I could watch my bike, a guy asked me about my destination. When I told him I was riding around the lake, he invited me to sit with him. He’s a sailor and earlier this year he bought a couple of folding bikes to take on his boat with him. He had ridden one to the McDonald’s that morning. We talked for quite a while but I didn’t get his name.
I continued on toward Wisconsin. I had been in Michigan for most of the ride and was looking forward to changing states (It gives me a sense of progress). Just as importantly, I was looking forward to turning south. I figure I’m truly on the way home once I turn that northwest corner. Even tho the odometer was clearly past half way, I needed the visceral feeling that I was homeward bound. Shortly after breakfast, I entered into Wisconsin!
Once again, I rode along the closest road to the lake but didn’t see much of the lake as I went. Mitch Weckop, who was graciously hosting me this night, had sent me his address and told me he lived on the westside of Green Bay and offered to come and pick me up. I was sure that I’d have to take him up on that offer since I was NOT interested in adding miles to my day. When I got to the edge of Green Bay, I stopped at a little roadside park to figure out where to go. I discovered that riding to Mitch’s house would only add 3 miles so I decided to man up and go for it. Really, 3 extra miles did require a serious Man Up. I called Mitch and left him a message telling him that I’d ride to his house and would be earlier than I had expected thanks to the great weather and flat roads. Just as I hung up and started to remount my bike — I really should have named this bike for this trip. — an older gentleman rode up on his bike and wanted to talk about my adventure.
Mike was a retired school teacher who had taught in one of the rougher Chicago schools for years. He rides his bike 23 miles nearly every day. That’s the round trip distance to his favorite coffee shop. He had recently returned from a one year gig in Hong Kong where he had been a school counselor in connection with some government program. It sounded fascinating. He had planned to go on to Cairo for a two year follow on but his wife was ready to come back home. I really love the conversations I get to have with people as I ride along. After Mike and I had talked for about a half hour, I had to get going or I wouldn’t be at the Weckop’s when I was expected.
Little did I know that the extra 3 miles to Mitch’s would be almost totally uphill or I might still have taken him up on the offer to come and get me. When I got there, Mitch wasn’t home yet, so his wife, Diane, and I stared at each other hoping that we each knew who the other was. I always joke that most men marry up, and Mitch is no exception. He’s got a great woman. Diane set me up for my post ride ritual of recovery drink and two beers. To help me be more comfortable that I was in the right place, she introduce me to their son Paul. This poor kid is the spitting image of Mitch when I met him at Rose 33 years ago. Mitch did OK with that face so I imagine Paul will do at least as well.
All joking aside, I had not really had a conversation with Mitch since he graduated in ’82. We picked up as if that was yesterday. I’m reminded that it really isn’t that hard to keep in touch with the people who have impacted our lives. Mitch is the primary reason that I became a Lambda Chi.
So Mitch, Diane, and Paul took me out to dinner at Farr’s Grove where I got to experience authentic Green Bay dining, including the rye bread with onion. Afterward, Mitch took me to see Lambeau stadium. We went inside and had a drink at Curly’s, named after Curly Lambeau. What a beautiful building. My route