How can I possibly summarize the magic of OOFD’s first ever SWMI ride in 2022?
I could give you a breakdown of the day by day, we did this then this. You can get the general gist of the flow of this 5 day, 4 night, 250+ mile bike camping trip here. From Chicago to SW Michigan. Swimming all along the way. A long time personal OOFD dream come true.
At OOFD, we make the adventures of our lives. And are blessed with the opportunity to help lead others to the adventures of their lives.
"It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." (Thoreau, Walden)
That’s what we get to do. To paint the very medium through which we look. Go bike camping with us one time and let me know if our welcoming adventurous guides affect the quality of your day. They are skilled in that highest of arts. They are well equipped to deepen your reverence for the region, educating about the culture, history, and habitats native of the shores and states we roll through.
Our guides got the spots. And the spiels. And the SWMI ride is no exception. We swim everyday. Days 2, 3 and 4, there are places to jump in The Lake every 15-20 miles. Days 1 and 5, only chances are to jump in at the beginning and end of the day. We do take breaks and jump in. Because it is summer at The Lake, and we are on vacation.
Day 3 though! Day 3! Our “off day.” Woke up slow. No need to pack up the tent because we are staying put at Weko Beach Campground for a second night. After a chill breakfast and coffee, off we rode on a delightful day ride. First, to Grand Muir State Park for the epic dune hike to the beach. An easy roll from there to Watermark Brewery for a beer. And then off to a wild dozen miles, a few of us pace lining through the hilly back roads of SW Michigan.
Many of the 20 total riders gathered at Transient Artisan Ales, one of the best breweries in the region. These brewers too are artists. Their art is in beer, and I suppose, by proxy, they too are affecting the quality of the day. No doubt they affected the quality of our day, as more than a dozen of us held down the taproom for more than a couple hours. Followed by a warm, 7pm ride to the lake to jump in. Hot out still. But the lake - freezing. Why!?!? That didn’t slow us down though. We played in the waves. Endlessly. Cold from the water but too joyful to climb out to the warm sand.
And Day 5. That 65 mile race to the train. The pressure was on. The trail got grassy at points. A failed ice cream shop stop filled instead with heaps of gas station junk. Tiny town Michigan. Still 30 miles to our train in South Bend that will take us back to Chicago.
Some confusion and brief panic on train times and time zones during lunch, 20 miles from the end. We are all good. Plus, we cruised and got to the park by the train station over an hour early! Celebratory hangs in the grass and on the sidewalk with keg beer from the jockey box and lots of laughs. Guides wrapped up their newly researched 5 day educational script about the nature and history of the area we just rode through.
I had the honor of being the lead guide for this ride. Truly an honor. That guide crew was un-freaking-believable. And the crew of participants, amazing vibes, adventurous spirits. Some of y’all are major OOFD homies now!
I am asked a few times every year what my favorite OOFD ride is. And for the last year, I have easily said “SWMI”.
Can’t wait to ride it this July!
SWMI's First Lead Guide
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"