Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Sauk Trail, 2009


M-12 stretches from Downtown Detroit all the way through to Chicago. It was an old Native American foot path that quickly became the first established road between the two big cities. Today, I-94 is the main freeway connecting Detroit and Chicago, leaving the two lane road a ghost of it's former self.

I've heard old timers call it "the Route 66 of Michigan," and for good reason too. It travels past broken down tourist traps and old motels calling out to travelers from a by-gone era, and the whole road seems like a bit of a time warp. It had always been a goal of mine to reach Chicago from Detroit via the old "Sauk Trail," and a lazy summer day back in 2009 proved to be the perfect time to do so.

I left my house some time around 10 a.m., expecting to arrive at my friends place before dark. On the free way it takes about 4 1/2 hours to travel between the two big cities, but on M-12, it felt like eternity. By the time I got there, it was pitch black, I was soaked to the bone, and on top of all that, was horribly lost in the south side Chicago with no phone and a soggy map. The feeling of cracking that first beer once I finally landed on my friends stoop still brings a smile to my face.

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Old abandoned farm houses littered the side of the road.


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Nature's own "do not enter" sign.



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Now where am I supposed to go for my Dragon and Ghost supplies?

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The retired Detroit Police parade bike treated me well, I must say. A few months after this trip, I was hit by a car while riding to work in the rain, totaling the bike completely. Miraculously, I walked away without a scratch on my body. The barn in the background, on the other hand, did not escape disaster so easily.

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A star spangled import greets you at the Michigan Indiana state boarder.

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This is where the road starts to follow the crest of the bluffs as it winds along the southern rim of Lake Michigan. It felt like I was riding through a sand box--the road was covered in sand and I could hardly see the dividing line down the center of the road.

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Took a stop at one of the bluff over looks, thinking i'd grab myself a view before it got dark. This hill looks easy enough to climb, but after 8 hours of sitting in the saddle, I swore my heart was going to explode right out of my chest once I got to the top.

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Despite the 10 minutes of thinking I was actually experiencing a heart attack, the view was quite impressive. Lake Michigan is utterly magnificent, and seeing it from any angle brings me great joy.

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Roads like M-12 give me the most compelling reason to get on my motorcycle and ride. As far as I can tell, a motorcycle is still the best way to explore and travel this country. The highways have their time and place, but the two lane roads take the cake in my book.

P.S. If you are reading this from somewhere where it is warm enough to ride, please, go do so. Now. Thank you. And don't forget to take pictures and send them in to Backtalk@ironcross.net, i'd love to share them right here with everyone. 

2 comments:

  1. cold as piss, but i'm riding to work tomorrow morning. i'm fixing my knuck, so i'll be riding my dirt bike, but a cold ride is still better than a warm drive

    nice post man.

    -dan

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