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Santana Door County Tandem Tour 2009
Saturday 27 June 2009 …Houston to Egg Harbor:
Houston had been sitting under a high pressure dome for over a week which had produced record temperatures with zero chance for rain. A week long break to Door County, Wisconsin was welcomed relief from the heat and drought. Door County is a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan above Green Bay. It is famous for cherries, fruit orchards, vineyards and fish boils. It is a tourist destination, but there are numerous county roads that are off the tourist radar and provide marvelous biking roads for enthusiasts. We have made four trips with Santana Tandem Tours and this was our fifth. We left Houston on Saturday morning for a non-stop flight to Milwaukee. There we picked up a rent car and drove 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach the Landmark resort in Egg Harbor. After checking in and dropping all of our luggage, we headed for the only brew pub in the county…the Shipwrecked Inn in Egg Harbor. It was located less than 2 miles from the Landmark and easy to find in Egg Harbor (population 250). We initially took a seat in the outside patio, but soon moved inside for two reasons. While I was really enjoying the 66 degree temperature, the wind was blowing so strong that the chill was uncomfortable for dining, but an even more significant reason was that the beer was served in plastic cups on the patio but in proper pint glasses inside. Everyone knows that the flavor of good beer is diminished in plastic and enhanced in a glass…so we moved inside. The menu choices offered a wide variety…Becky chose a bratwurst plate and I chose a ½ chicken plate. Their microbrewery offered a choice of 5 beers including a seasonal IPA…that was our selection and it was good enough that we didn’t try any of their other beers. Following dinner we walked to the marina and then returned to the Landmark, watched a little TV and went to bed.
Sunday 28 June 2009: Egg Harbor – Sister Bay – Bailey’s Harbor
I was up early and started assembling the bicycle. It went together without issues or bonehead blunders. As the morning sun rose over the trees we could see we had been blessed with a beautiful bright sunny day. We left the Landmark a little after 8:30 and headed for the recommended White Gull restaurant in Fish Creek for breakfast. Our route took us through Egg Harbor along route 42 for the 6.5 mile ride to Fish Creek. The directions to the restaurant were excellent; we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table but there was an outside coffee bar which was a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee while we waited for our table. We were soon seated and made our selections. The food was great just like our friends had said; the service was equally good. After we had leisurely enjoyed the home made hash browns and eggs, we visited the local beach and then biked to the tourist information office for maps and then to a bike shop to borrow a pump to top off the pressure in our tires. From there we entered the Peninsula State Park and took the skyline road across the park. We stopped a couple of times to enjoy the scenic overlooks. The roads we selected had very light traffic and the surfaces were smooth. The forest was dense which provided a canopy over the road, but there was little undergrowth. We did see one deer while we were riding through the park. As we exited at the North end, we found ourselves back on route 42 headed for Sister Bay. We stopped there to check the maps and program the Garmin for the route back. We selected a ride which would take us to the East coast of the peninsula to Bailey’s Harbor. We rode out the Ridge Rustic Road in search of the “Old Bailey’s Harbor Light”, but we never found it. I guess it was so old it had collapsed or the road to it was not suitable for bicycles…my guess is the former. We set the Garmin to direct us back to the Landmark from Bailey’s Harbor. It was only a 10 mile ride, but we were headed into a 20 mph head wind and climbing. We saw another deer as we were exiting Bailey’s Harbor…it wasn’t bothered by a bike as we passed within 20 feet of where she was standing. We just dropped into the low gears and slogged into the wind at 12 mph. Eventually we crested the hill and looked down on Egg Harbor. Back in familiar territory, we stopped at the supermarket for happy hour snacks before returning to the resort. Now it was time to clean up, change and enjoy happy hour. Soon we were relaxed and refreshed and facing the challenge of deciding where to eat dinner. There are so many choices that deciding on one is the issue. We selected the Harbor Market & Grill in Bailey’s Harbor which proved to be an excellent choice. It was a little more upscale than we had anticipated, but very worthwhile. We selected a bottle of New Zealand Marlborough Valley Sauvignon Blanc to accompany Becky’s grilled Mahi Mahi and my sautéed Walleye. Both were excellent and the wine we had selected reinforced our high rating for the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. We returned to the Landmark and tried to watch a little baseball but heavy eyelids prevented a lot of TV viewing. Total cycling miles for the day…50.
Monday 29 June 2009: Egg Harbor-Bailey’s Harbor-Fish Creek
We were concerned about the weather…it had rained all night and the temperature was in the 50’s…what a contrast from Houston. But the skies were not threatening although the wind was strong and cool. We selected Weisgerber’s Corner Pub in Bailey’s Harbor for breakfast. It was a 10.5 mile ride over county road EE to the pub but with the tail wind we were maintaining 25mph without a strain. The county roads are almost void of traffic and run through picturesque farmland and verdant orchards. The terrain is not flat, but for comparison there are no granny gear hills on the peninsula. The corner pub is owned by the family of a former Green Bay Packers player…the walls were covered with Packer memorabilia and autographed player photos. The breakfast was worth the 10 mile ride…we both ordered a skillet which was loaded with eggs, potatoes, ham, cheese, onions, peppers and tomatoes. It was a very hearty meal which fueled us for the remainder of the day. From Bailey’s Harbor we headed to Fish Creek over county road F. Now we were facing the headwind, but we had no schedule so we just enjoyed the country vistas as we slogged along at 15 mph. Becky had seen some shops when we passed through Fish Creek on Sunday which had piqued her shopping senses and since we had the spare time, off we rode in search of Door County treasures. We visited several shops before she found the perfect earrings. Usually I can put off a purchase by saying we don’t have room to carry anything on the bike, but that would not work with a pair of earrings so now we have a souvenir. We discovered a backroad route to return to the Landmark Resort. We had a few minutes to kill before we met Jan in the Chartroom to register for the tandem rally. As we went to collect our ride packets, we immediately began to meet teams we had ridden with on other Santana tours and rallies. The afternoon ride was scheduled to start immediately after Bill McCready’s 2:15 safety and route talk. The weather was not perfect; there was a chance for rain looming overhead. The route took us North over Whitecliff road which is the shoreline drive along Green Bay with it’s beautiful waterfront homes. At the end of the shoreline road, we climbed up to Spring road and continued North towards Fish Creek. At the intersection of route 42, we continued a couple of miles to the North entrance of the Peninsula State Park and followed Shore Drive to the observation tower and lighthouse. We exited the park in Fish Creek and stopped at the “Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard” for the carrot that had been hanging in front of us…a cup of fresh frozen custard. Becky chose a cone of chocolate and I selected a cup of butter pecan…a very nice treat and break about 2/3 into the ride. As we headed back to the Landmark, rain started to fall so we ducked under the cover of a tree and pulled on the rain jackets. Fortunately the rain didn’t last long so we were able to enjoy the view of the wonderful waterfront homes on Cottage Row Rd on the return. We did have a few hills to pull as we turned away from the lake back to route 42 and the sprint to the hotel. We had plenty of time for a welcomed shower and change before the evening activities began at 7:00. The opening dinner was in the Egg Harbor room at the Landmark. The meal was a buffet of grilled meats and sausages with beans and salads for sides. If you were quick there was some cherry pie for dessert, but not enough for everyone. Theconversatons around the tables was all about tandem rides in the past, present and future. We really enjoyed renewing friendships with teams we had met on previous rides as well as making new friends! We closed the place down at 10:00 and returned to our rooms. Total miles for today 60…total for the trip 110.
Tuesday 30 June 2009: Egg Harbor-Surgeon Bay-Jacksonport
Today’s big surprise was the temperature…it was 53 degrees when we walked to breakfast at 7:00am and the high was forecast to be 59 (although the temperature did break into the low 60s). Breakfast was an adequate buffet in the Egg Harbor room…the food was fine and plentiful, but there was nothing memorable. Bill gave his ride talk at 800 describing the points of interest we would encounter along the 53 mile route. Becky and I were more concerned if we had adequate clothing for the temperatures at 20 mph wind. We started out wearing arm warmers and rain jackets which kept us warm enough for the ride. The route took us South along County road B through Little Harbor along the shoreline of Green Bar which is line with beautiful “cottages”. As we approached Sturgeon Bay we stopped to see what we could of the ship yards and then rode the Main Street where we found a coffee bar. This was a very welcomed stop for a hot latte and blue berry muffin…many of the other teams chose to join us at the shop for coffee and pastries. We continued along the quaint Main Street (a flash back to the 60’s) to the Coast Guard Station at the opening of the ship's canal on the Lake Michigan shore of the peninsula. We stopped briefly to take some photos of the canal and lighthouse before continuing on some of the most picturesque roads along the Lake Michigan. Beautifully landscaped summer homes lined the roads which cut a curvy route through the heavily forested area along the shore. The trees provided a buffer from the 20 mph winds, but also obstructed views and photo ops of the lake. We continued through Whitefish Dunes State Park to Jacksonport and the city park where our catered lunch was waiting for us. Jan and Becky walked to a farmers market where they purchased fresh strawberries and a homemade cherry pie. Never mind that the buffet featured a selection deli meats, cheeses, salads and desserts, we were now going to enjoy some of the local flavors as well. I will say that the fresh strawberries were some of the finest I’ve ever enjoyed and the taste of cherry pie was a treat…the crust was better than the filling. After lunch we only had 10 miles to ride through vibrant farm land before reaching the Landmark Resort. We have covered 53 miles for the day; the roads and scenery were perfect; the low temperatures were a refreshing relief from Houston’s summer and the threat of rain never materialized…now how can it get any better than that! The featured event for the evening was the fish boil presentation at 6:30. The Fish Boil is the signature dish for Door County. It is very similar to a Cajun crawfish boil with a huge pot over a wood fire. The water is seasoned with potatoes, onions, carrot, corn and salt…after the vegetables have cooked they add the white fish (bones and all) to the boiling water for 8 minutes. The fat in the fish cooks out and boils over the top of the pot and onto the fire resulting in a huge grease fire to top off the presentation (except they use kerosene) to ensure the pyrophorics. My review gives the fish boil 1 star out of 5…go for the show but skip the fish. Once again we closed down the dining room with about 10 people sitting around the table enjoying one final bottle of wine while trading stories of bicycle rides. Total miles for today 53…total for the trip 163
Wednesday 01 July 2009: Egg Harbor-Ellison Bay-Cana Island
Today’s route was designed to tour the northern end of the Door Peninsula; that is exactly what we did however we would have preferred temperatures higher than the mid fifties and no drizzling rain and 20 mph wind. But we can’t choose our weather so we just accepted our fate and decided to enjoy the ride in spite of the less than desirable conditions. Following breakfast and Bill’s route talk, we hesitated a while to see if the drizzle would stop…then decided the rain wasn’t bad enough to dampen our spirits…so we started the ride to Ellison Bay in a cold drizzling rain. We hadn’t ridden more than a few miles before the rain stopped; however the tires rolling over the wet streets had thrown enough cold wet spray that our butts and feet were a bit damp. After an hour of riding, we arrived in Sister Bay and found a coffee shop as did several other tandem teams. As we dried out and warmed up over a warm cup of latte, we noticed that the rain was falling in horizontal sheets like a snowstorm. We were ahead of schedule to reach the lunch stop so we decided to extend our coffee break until the rain ended….probably close to an hour. The rain did eventually slacken a bit, we pulled on the gear and continued our ride to the lunch stop at Granny’s place in Rowleys Bay. This was only a 10 mile ride and the weather actually did show marginal improvements. I don’t remember anything remarkable about this ride except a steep decline into Ellison Bay…normally we take the middle of the lane on the fast downhills but in the case an 18 wheeler pulled alongside and made no attempt to give us any space. We descended the hill together at 35mph…he had the full lane and we had a 4 foot shoulder. He did block the wind and we appreciated the heat coming off his engine, but we weren’t real comfortable with the situation. We arrived at the lunch stop about noon…they weren’t expecting us for at least another hour, but they made quick adjustments and opened the buffet earlier than scheduled. Since there were no other customers in the restaurant, this could not have been a major inconvenience. Lunch was a Swedish smorgasbord featuring salads, soups, chili, meatball, lasagna and casseroles. All were good and the dessert tray of cookies and brownies was a nice way to top off a pleasant meal. From lunch we continued to Cana Island and the lighthouse…since we had now turned South and East, wind was much more favorable…not to mention that the rain had stopped. We arrived at the lighthouse but chose not to climb to the top because there was a 45 minute wait to get to the stair. Becky did go up one flight to the living quarters to view the 4 small rooms that was the home to the lighthouse keepers. The Cana Lighthouse was the last scheduled stop before returning to the Landmark via Bailey’s Harbor, but I had wanted to stop at a place off of County Road E which sold cookoo clocks and beer steins. We found the place on the shores of Kangaroo Lake and they really did have more than 2000 beer steins as advertised. We have never seen such a vast collection, ranging from 100 year old antiques to modern steins from all over the world. Of course most were German, but other places were well represented. We did find a 1.5 liter pitcher which we both like especially because it had been marked down and was 20% off the marked down price. We had it shipped back home where it will be one of the main pieces of our meager collection. As we left the stein shop we had only about 8 miles to go to reach the Landmark. This section was unremarkable as we only wanted to arrive at the hotel and enjoy a hot shower after a day of biking in 50 degree temperatures with wind and rain. It is amazing how reviving a hot shower and a cold beer can be after 5 hours on a bicycle, but with spirits revived and muscles rested we were ready to try one of the recommended supper clubs for dinner. We weren’t real sure what was the difference between a restaurant and a supper club, but the best we could determine is that a supper club serves only dinner and the menu is more traditional home style cooking.. We selected the Greenwood supper club on a friend's recommendation. It is located at the corner of County Road A and F near Fish Creek. The place has been in business since 1923 and is still owned by the original family heirs. The food was hearty and abundant…I ordered grilled pork chops and Becky got the special fried perch fillets…either one would have been plenty for both of us, but we justified consuming the large portions because of the 62 miles we had ridden earlier in the day. Total miles for today 62…total for the trip 225.
Thursday 02 July 2009: Egg Harbor – Bailey’s Harbor
The schedule for today was inverted due to the early 11:00 check out time. Instead of starting with breakfast and then riding; we started riding followed by brunch. The 22 mile ride to Bailey’s Harbor and back was scheduled to start at 7:30 but Becky and I chose to leave early to ensure that we would have sufficient time to break down the bike and pack it in its two suitcases. The weather had marginally improved…the temperature was 56, but there was no rain and the wind had slacked off to 15 mph. We enjoyed the deserted roads, favorable wind and vistas of robust farmland on the route to Kangaroo Lake and then along Frogtown road which took us on the shoreline of Lake Michigan into Bailey’s Harbor. From there we returned to Egg Harbor on County Road E…the road was still deserted but this time we faced the headwind…not as strong as previous days. One disadvantage to starting early was that we had no other teams to enjoy the ride with. Our route covered 22 miles as we pulled into the Landmark for the final time. We had plenty of time to pack the bike and then get ready for the closing brunch in the Egg Harbor room. The brunch featured two omelet chefs, a variety of pastries, potatoes, fruit and smoked salmon. The presentation was pleasing and the food was good. Starting around noon, Bill gave his preview of the upcoming Santana rallies and tours which included Hawaii, Europe, Williamsburg, Durango and the California wine country. We would love to ride all of them and maybe someday we will but for today we only added the Mother’s day rally in Williamsburg to our schedule for next year. We had a few minutes to wish our friends safe travel home and made promises to see them on the next ride. Once again, Bill and Jan planned and executed another excellent tandem event with superior accommodations, great food, and exciting routes while providing us the opportunity to visit a part of the country we had never seen. We’re looking forward to the next one! Total miles today 22…Total miles for the trip: 247
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