Day 2: Adventures to Virtue

    Day 2: Adventures to Virtue

    The day continues along a roadside path that is well shaded, allowing me to recover as we gain some ground. Around us the land grows increasingly fertile, as blueberry patches start to flank us on the left. Many of the field are dotted with immigrants, picking boxes of berries. Word on the street is that […]

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    Day 2: Off to Virtue

    Day 2: Off to Virtue

      Day 1/Pt. 1: Virtue Cider! I knew we shouldn’t have told the friendly party across the way that we planned on getting up and out bright and early. After no less than 5 hours rolling around restlessly yesterday evening, I finally caved and dug out my iphone for Game of Drones, in desperation to […]

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    Day 1: Part 2

    Day 1: Part 2

    And we’re off! Of course it only takes about 5 minutes before I decide I’d like to raise my saddle. And we’re off! So I do it guys. I’m telling you I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled. And you know what that asshole did? He just kept on pulling gears. No matter how hard I […]

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    Make it or Break it: Part 1

    Make it or Break it: Part 1

    You know what they say about tandem bikes? Wherever your relationship is going, it’ll get there faster on a tandem. Well, it’s time to find out. Brandon and I are setting off for a few-day ride along the lake. Last time he did this, he pedaled around the entire lake in a tandem with a […]

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    Slipping Through the Cracks of Time

    Slipping Through the Cracks of Time

    In relation to my last post, I’ve spent these past months contemplating how to move forward with my life. As I delve ever further into my dissertation and leave behind the world which I intend to enter post-academy (i.e. become a Ph.D. student who does not work as a professor or within the publish-or-die model), […]

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    31, in a nutshell

    31, in a nutshell

    On this day of my birth I feel ashamed of being depressed and anxious, of being, what my manfriend so eloquently calls it, “a birthday brat”. And he is right, in a sense. Having lived in Chicago two years, the reflection of my situation is nothing but bright. I have observed at a pioneering non-profit, […]

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    Day 2: Adventures to Virtue

    Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.18.57 PMThe day continues along a roadside path that is well shaded, allowing me to recover as we gain some ground. Around us the land grows increasingly fertile, as blueberry patches start to flank us on the left. Many of the field are dotted with immigrants, picking boxes of berries. Word on the street is that they get paid about 50 cents per pound. How many pounds of berries can you pick in a day? How much would you pay for a pint of berries?

    The signs alongside many of these patches warn passersby to KEEP OUT and that their berries are sprayed with pesticides. Guess cycling doesn’t look so bad.

    imageAlong down the road Brandon spots rows of vines growing up ropes which have been tethered to a trellis. He asks me what I think they are and I send him across the street – not to be gendered, but I know the dude’s gonna be way more stoked about the hop vines than my blueberry fetish. The large cones have no formed yet, so it must be early season for the bitter greens, probably a good thing since the last time I put a hop pellet in my mouth I immediately regretted it.

    That said, the bitter herb does have it’s merits, and we’re itching to get a taste of them at New Holland Brewery, where we stop for lunch. Basking beneath the summer sun out on the patio in downtown Holland I’m reminded of why I’ve given a little piece of my heart to the midwest. There is a camaraderie living here. For one, we’ve all endured the last 9 months of icy darkness, waiting as the thaw takes gruelingly long to melt into Spring. And then there’s all the white people and the 170 churches. Did you know Holland is the place where the WWJD – What Would Jesus Do bracelets came from? The very same ones I used to change into What Would John Galt Do (WWJGD) in high school. So…sunshine…yay!

    Moving on…

    imageOn our way out of town we pass through the magnificent farmers market where we stop to get some edible gifts for our dear friend Ellen who is letting us stay with her in Fenville this evening. Purple potatoes? Calabacitas? Heavy but sturdy…pack em up.

    One more stop in the adorable town of Saugatuck (ice cream recharge) and we can almost smell the fermenting apples. And what’s that ahead?image

    As we approach the crest of the hill, my legs are on fire, but Brandon keeps pushing the pace to get us to the top. Then I see it. As we begin to gain momentum the cider houses begin to poke through the bucolic background. Nestled in the rural surrounding, the cider houses evoke the farms around Normandy, France, after which they are modeled. I think Brandon doubted our journey through the seemingly endless farmland of the midwest, but his faith inflates every meter we coast closer to our destination.

    Virtue Cider House is a pretty mesmerizing place. While this part of Michigan is replete with orchards and berry patches, there is something magical about Virtue’s old style, and the dream that they envision for the future. I think it’s about the deep obsession that Greg Hall has with cider, it’s history, and it’s connection to a sustainable future. Even if you hadn’t been cycling for the last 30 miles in the hot hot sun, approaching the 48 acre estate would feel like happening upon an oasis of peace and promise. So much so, that when we do pull into the unpaved drive, we roll up to the sight of Missy and Ryan, Virtue head chef and farmer (respectively), painting window boxes, laying flagstone and planting flowers. Idyllic indeed.

    But right now we’re thirsty.

    One thing that’s great about Greg is how much he loves bicycles. In fact, part of this ride has been preliminary research for an official supported Virtue Ride from Chicago to Fennville. Greg owns more and nicer bicycles than me and my ten closest friends do collectively and likes bikes so much so that Virtue sells official Lapinette bike badges (secrets on the wing are that there may be some official Virtue red Detroit bikes to look forward to soon as well)!

    Right. Ok, back to drinking.

    We walk past the fat lazy kitty sunning itself beside the wine barrels to find Seth manning the Virtue tasting room. We happily step in to occupy his time.

    Day 2: Off to Virtue

     

    Day 1/Pt. 1: Virtue Cider!

    I knew we shouldn’t have told the friendly party across the way that we planned on getting up and out bright and early. After no less than 5 hours rolling around restlessly yesterday evening, I finally caved and dug out my iphone for Game of Drones, in desperation to calm my anxious mind. I’m telling you people, if you’ve got a mad little tea party in your head constantly like I do, the Sleep With Me Podcast is awesomely boring in the perfect way. 

    So I relish in the doze and let Brandon get up to search for the coffee filters when I hear our cheery neighbor approach.

    “You call this bright and early?” he asks.

    I would grumble, except the man has come with a carafe of hot coffee and two mugs, so he must be a god of some sort, especially since we’re just about to realize that we’ve forgotten our filters. Thank you godman.

    In the meantime Brandon has managed to heat up our brilliant oatmeal-to-go concoction, and I show him the backpackers trick to keeping containers clean. That is, you take a credit card (or your no-good medicaid card) and use it the scrap the sides and bottom of your bowls – little to no water needed, and then your mac and cheese residue doesn’t infect your breakfast oatmeal…gross.image

    Our butts are sore, our legs are bit up and we stink up to high heaven, but nothing a little oatmeal and coffee can’t fix. In about an hour we’re on the road and I’m feeling positive…for awhile. But before an hour goes by I feel myself losing steam. You know when you give blood and as that pint drains from your body you start kinda losing your eyesight before you faint? That’s kinda how it felt as I started letting Brandon drag my legs around and around in a rhythmic circle. I had to admit something before I got myself thrown from that hard-ass saddle to the even harder-ass concrete.

    The quest to Virtue

    The quest to Virtue

    Shit.

    I felt sad, weak, and incapable.

    But what I wouldn’t give for a cold glass of cider…

    Day 1: Part 2

    imageAnd we’re off! Of course it only takes about 5 minutes before I decide I’d like to raise my saddle.

    And we’re off!

    So I do it guys. I’m telling you I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled. And you know what thimageat asshole did? He just kept on pulling gears. No matter how hard I pushed there was a bigger ring to put us in. How the hell was I gonna keep this up all day?

    Well I did, more or less. I pushed and pedaled and pulled and pimageushed and pedaled. The harder I pedaled, the more difficult it felt. Whatever the alleged “sweet spot” we were searching for in our cadence was, I certainly never found it.

    But despite it all, make way we did: crushing at such a speed as to cover 40 miles in less time
    Than we expected. We were so speedy in fact, that we had a little time to stop by an old and delicious haunt of ours: Honey Pie. Unfortunately I had overloaded on donuts that morning so had to settle for the salad instead of my favorite: the banana cream pie (believe me, I’m as disappointed as you are).

    Onto the ferry! Admittedly, Brandon’s mechanical mind made this experience like putting a kid in a candy shop. For me, the inside was too image cold, the outside too hot, and not a place to recline on the whole damn ship. But I did wedge myself into a small refuge beneath a ledge on the front hull – an otherwise hostile place for kids and adults alike – my favorite.

    We’re birthed from the ferry around 3:30 (with an hour time change). Only 6 more miles to the campground.

    Hoffmaster, a lovely name for a lovely campground. I’d write more, but we’re exhausted and Brandon won’t let me see whose butt is more sore…I think it’s his.

    Tomorrow Virtue Cider!