I realized, as I was pulling into the hotel tonight, that I've ridden about 5,000 miles since I left home on May 18. I've enjoyed a great many of those...and some I have not. Today was a mix of both. The ride up to Copper Harbor brought back good memories of my visit here 5 years ago. It's also the type of ride that I think every motorcyclist looks for. The last 10 miles into Copper Harbor are like a tree lined roller coaster with rolling hills and lots of curves. The last mile or so is all down hill, so I put the bike in neutral and coasted all the way into Copper Harbor...it was one of the best experiences I've had on a motorcycle this year. Here is a video clip of what part of that last 10 miles looks like.
Yeah...remember that U.P. magic I was telling you about yesterday...how great it is to feel the cool northern breeze chase the heat right out of the air...that magic came back to bite me in the butt today. It's evil magic, voodoo magic, the kind of magic that I'm pretty sure I can find some way to blame on Voldemort. That magical weather/temperature change made this one of the most extreme days of riding, and one that I was the most unprepared for, on this trip.
It was about 80 when I woke up this morning. I took my time getting ready for today's journey. I went to Walmart and got some snacks for the hotel room. I went to Pete's Barber Shop and had what little hair was on my head shaved off. I went over to Jeffrey's for lunch...and it started to cool down. By the time I left the hotel, my motorcycle was telling me that it was only 72 outside. Ah, but there's that U.P. magic. As I rolled north on M-41, it started to get warm again...back up to 80...then 84...and it stayed that warm for quite a while. M-41 between Marquette and Houghton isn't all that spectacular. There are some scenic views as you pass by some of the lakes along the way, but nothing I felt like stopping to get a picture or two at on the way, especially since it was warm and stopping when it's warm just means sweat.
As I started to approach Houghton, the temperature started dipping. Nothing dramatic like what I described yesterday, just a slow wander down into the upper 60's and lower 70's. I had expected it to cool off as I headed north, the weather forecast for Copper Harbor said the high there would only be 58 for the day. As such, I'd packed my hoodie so as to be ready for said "coolness."
The hoodie came out and went on when I got to the Snow Pole on M-41. The snow pole is that special stop along the highway where you can see the average annual snowfall, the historic high and lows, and the snowfall measurement for last year all in one place. By the time I got there, it was down around 60 and it appeared that I'd be getting down into the 50's in relatively little time.
I rolled into Copper Harbor less than 30 minutes later. It was starting to get really cool. Before I headed up the mountain it was about 59 degrees and you could see that heavy clouds were blowing in off Lake Superior and surrounding the top of the mountain. When I got to the top, the clouds were moving in fast and furious. There was no rain, just a cool mist, but what was coming with it was unexpected...cold. I was only at the top of the mountain for about 15 minutes or so. During that time the temperature dropped about 8 degrees. It was 49 when I left...presuming it would warm up as I rode down the mountain. I was wrong, it actually got colder, down to about 46...and it stayed that cold all the way to Houghton.
I knew there had to be warmth somewhere to the south of me, so I pressed on (and maybe sped a little bit in the process.) I finally reached the southern edge of the cold front about 15 miles south of Houghton. The temperature warmed up into the mid-60's and I kept the pedal to the metal wanting to put as much distance between that cold wall and myself as possible. I managed to forget that Marquette is right on the water. About 10 miles outside of town, there was that wall...waiting for me like a frozen ninja. It attacked without the slightest warning and the next thing I knew it was down to 52 degrees.
The ride up to Copper Harbor was one of the best I've had in weeks. The ride back...meh, I've had lots better. :)
Tomorrow is another day, and another road.