7. Michigan Bicycling Across The USA

Day 52: Midland to Caro, MI

This was a short day with little in the way of scenery, lots of bad pavement, rude drivers, and a cold rain all afternoon. If Michigan could speak, it would be saying, “get the hell out of here.” But we did meet two very nice and somewhat wacky people.

We left Midland at 9am and were pushed out of town fast by a stiff west wind. Suburbs yielded to scattered rural sprawl on top of fertile cropland, and the further we got from town, the more farms we saw. We rode west and south through fields of beans, corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, and sugar beets. Some of the houses had already put up Halloween decorations, and the weather was way into autumn.

When we got to Bay City, the Adventure Cycling map got too confusing and we got somewhat lost, which wasn’t good. We ended up riding on some busy city streets and fought off some of the most aggressive drivers we’ve encountered on the trip. We were passed too close, turned in front of, honked at, and stopped short, all in the space of about ten miles. Either Bay City was having a bad day, or every day there is bad.

We rode for several hours through more farmland until we got to the small village of Fairgrove. Sara was waiting for us at Castamore Zangalotti’s Flashback Café, along with a table of 12 high school kids and several parties of old ladies. The food was great. Jim had a milkshake and grilled ham sandwich, Sara and I had chili, and for dessert we shared homemade cinnamon sugar donut holes, which are called “Martian Nuts” on the menu. “Ron was messing around with these for a church function, and someone who tasted them said they were out of this world,” said Jo Thomas, Ron’s wife and the waitress of the place. “One thing lead to another. Now there are a lot of jokes. Did you hear the Martians screaming out back after you ordered?”

Ron was in back cooking, and after the lunch crowd emptied out he came out to meet the cross-country riders. Castamore Zangalotti doesn’t exist, we learned. “I woke up from a dream and the name was in my head,” said Ron. “I wrote it down on a pad and went back to sleep. I checked Google, and didn’t find anyone who really has this name. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, so we named the restaurant for him.”

Ron and Jo were friendly and funny and not in a hurry. Their place is decorated with some great old weird stuff. They put a carpenter’s nail bag around the waist of a life-sized cardboard cutout of Elvis. There are lots of boosterish signs for the local high school football team (the Vikings), and just above our booth were the results of an actual popularity contest held by the village’s grocery store long ago. We didn’t want to leave, especially because it was starting to rain, but we still had the afternoon ahead of us, so off we went.

That was a mistake. The rain got worse as soon as we left town, and by the time we got to the next town, Caro, we were soaked. Having done 55 miles, we declared victory and checked into a motel. We wanted to watch the Biden-Palin debate, anyway.

I cleaned up and rode back into town, where I visited the local Democratic headquarters and got an Obama sticker for my bike.  Election season had finally caught up to us, and the news was good; that afternoon, the McCain campaign announced that they were pulling out of Michigan.  I told the woman at Obama headquarters this news.  She was so busy that it didn’t really sink in.

Later that evening, I was snoozing and trying to stay awake while Joe Biden and Sarah Palin jabbed at each other.  The cell phone rang. I picked it up and a deep, menacing female voice slurred, “I hate her.” It was Tania.  I love her.

By bradedmondson

Writing about social change and how it happens.

11 replies on “Day 52: Midland to Caro, MI”

Sweet Rolls (Biden) win over cinnamon sugar donut holes (Palin) any day!!!

Keep up the great work. We are looking forward to seeing you in Rochester and Savannah and have taken the liberty of adding those places to the Google Earth log.

Can you comment on how you do the blog? Do you take notes during the ride? How? Are you getting any help in uploading pictures, formatting, etc.? How do you have energy to do this following the rides?


Great post, Brad and glad to hear you survived the tough ride. We missed you at the annual meeting and it prompted me to catch up with your whereabouts. Safe travels and burn off them martian nuts on the next leg!


Michigan was saying, “Get the Hell out of here?”

They did say that to McCain, or that is what he thought, as his campaign has pulled out.

One does associate Michigan with cars and cars don’t like bicycles; and Michigan has fallen on hard times, making road repairs more difficult.

As for the cold rain, we are having our share of that in the Finger Lakes too.


Well Boys,
Sorry you had such a rough time in Bay City (my hometown). I for one would not want to ride a bike in that town even if I had perfect vision unless is was on the bike path which makes a loop around the town. The problem is finding it (the bike path) unless you are a local and the locals know how to hook up to it using the side roads and avoiding the major traffic areas. Too bad you miss it cause it follows along the Saginaw River. Also just getting to the Thumb area of MI from the way you came in requires crossing the Saginaw River and all bridges across that river are major arteries of traffic. The Saginaw River is part of the St. Lawrence seaway so Bay City gets huge ships from all over the world there.
Hope the rest of the trip through MI goes better. It is very cold here in Rochester but the sun is out today.


I do the photoing and posting myself with a Canon PowerSHot, Quicktime Pro for the movies, IPhoto, and my MacBook Pro computer which works like a dream. It makes for a later night than I’d like sometimes, but it’s the most fun I’ve had writing in years. Glad you like the results. — Brad


Hello- I am not surprised drivers are cranky in Michigan. The whole state has been in a depression for years.

I was born in Detroit and lived there until 1967. The whole southeastern part of the state had a certain grittiness about it that I kind of liked. The Lake Michigan side and the Upper Peninsula were great places to get away, though.

I still have family in Detroit, so I have been watching the decline for all these years. It is really sad.

I am hoping to join you at the big welcome in Rochester. We will have some out of town company, and too few bikes to go around, though. So I think Diane and the out-of-towners will go do something else.

Remember what I said about the hardest part will be when you’re passing by so close to your house! Good thing all those bikers will be meeting you in the park. We’ll keep you going in the right direction!




My only experience in MI was in 1971 driving to Chicago and breaking down (minor) in my 1968 Volvo in Jackson. The guy at the service station where we ended up diagnosed the problem as follows: “You should have bought an American car.”


I’ve been reading and enjoying following your adventure! Glad to hear not only the slice of life observations while bicyling, but also the recognition for your support system–Sara The Blessed, if I recall the title correctly from a prior entry.
It is autumn for sure now in the Finger Lakes–when will you be nearby? Roger may decide to get his bike out; I won’t ride if I bring the new (3 month old) sled dog pup for meet and greet.
Since I’ve never done this blog thing before, I hope this gets to you ok.


Dar…..Glad to know you have found this site.

AT the moment we are stranded 15 miles off route in St. Thomas Ontario with the Toyota w/o brakes. No Toyota dealer here so I hope Toyota master brake cylinder is a universal part. Sara the Saint managed to drive the truck with camper in tow with maybe 20% braking ability.

The plan is to ride into Rochester on the Erie Canal “Towpath” from the west on Sat Oct. 11 and have a “shindig” sponsored by the FLLT and friends at the Genesse Valley Park at 3pm and then ride to the Clover Street Canal Park where we will “finish” for the day. I am guessing we will be in the Albion area around noon on that day. LOOK for updates and the official notice on this web site and/or the FLLT site.

Hope to see you and the new family member.

Jim K


“When we got to Bay City, the Adventure Cycling map got too confusing and we got somewhat lost, which wasn’t good. We ended up riding on some busy city streets and fought off some of the most aggressive drivers we’ve encountered on the trip. We were passed too close, turned in front of, honked at, and stopped short, all in the space of about ten miles. Either Bay City was having a bad day, or every day there is bad.”

Perhaps Adventure Cycle could make the maps in this part more clear
somehow… I would not think that anyone would want to experience the anti biker sediment.


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