September 28-30, 2013
Little Traverse Wheelway

In 2011, Ron and I discovered a trail while driving along US-31. We were staying in Charlevoix for our anniversary. I was longing to do something fun but I was just too tired. I had had a heart attack one month prior to the trip and I still didn’t have very much energy. My head and heart were ready but physically I was drained. So, we decided to take a drive.

Looking out the passenger window and taking in the scenery, I watched walkers, joggers and bikers make their way along what appeared to be a trail that ran parallel to the highway. The scenic views along the route were beautiful and showcased Lake Michigan, Little Traverse Bay and Bay Harbor. We later learned that the trail was the Little Traverse Wheelway which connects the cities of Charlevoix, Petoskey and Harbor Springs. We decided to come back someday when I was feeling better.

Fast forward to September 27, 2013; Ron and I head north to Petoskey for a relaxing weekend of bike riding, golf and shopping with our friends, Greg and Rody.

We arrive on Friday afternoon and Ron and I spend the afternoon sightseeing in Petoskey while we wait for our friends to arrive. We are blessed with unseasonably warm weather for late September; the temperature is in the mid-70s. After visiting several downtown shops we drive down to the waterfront to find the trailhead for the Little Traverse Wheelway Bike route. After finding the trail, we walk out to the pier for a closer view of the water.

When we finally make our way back to the car we notice that there are probably twenty fisherman fishing for salmon off a bridge. We notice a sign for the Bear River Valley Recreation area and we stop for awhile to explore the area and soon discover The North Country Trail (NCT) and the Bear River. Here in the park, the NCT trail links up with the Bear River and follows it to its convergence with Lake Michigan.

Some quick facts about the North Country Trail:

  • The NCT stretches across seven states from New York to North Dakota.
  • It is the longest National Scenic Trail in the United States
  • The trail is administered by the National Park Service
  • It passes through 12 National Forests
  • The trail was created by Congress in 1980; it already has more trail completed than the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is long.

After an enjoyable afternoon of sight-seeing, we head back to the hotel to meet up with our friends and head out on our bikes to visit Petoskey State Park. The round-trip from the park is fourteen miles. The ride was excellent and the State Park has a very nice beach along the water.

After arriving back at the hotel, we get cleaned up and find a local hotspot to enjoy a nice dinner.

Saturday, September 28
Rodie and I spend the day shopping in Gaylord while the guys golf.

Sunday, September 29
My husband, Ron, decides that we should ride our bikes along The Little Traverse Wheelway, the trail we had discovered in 2011. The 19-mile trip from the northern outskirts of Petoskey to Charlevoix along the Little Traverse Wheelway offers up exciting changes of scenery—including many views over sparkling Lake Michigan. The route is mostly paved, with several sections on boardwalk, sidewalk and area roads.

The round-trip totals thirty eight miles. I have ridden twenty miles before but never thirty eight miles in a day. This will be a challenge but I jump at the chance. After all, I am not about to sit on the sidelines while everyone else is having fun!

Little Traverse Wheelway – Trail Synopsis
“This I do know beyond any reasonable doubt. Regardless of what you are doing, if you pump long enough, hard enough and enthusiastically enough, sooner or later the effort will bring forth the reward.” – Zig Ziglar (born 1926); Motivational Author, Speaker

Half way to Charlevoix, I decide that Zig Ziglar has no idea what he is talking about! MY favorite word is “tenacious” but this trip seems as if it is going to get the best of me.

I AM pumping…as much as I can and as hard as I can; still, I watch everyone fly past me and my recumbent as if I am standing still. My companions are all on upright bikes and they seem to have the superior advantage over my bent bike with this ‘bent’ rider on board; at least I feel ‘bent and broken’ as I strain to tackle the hills and the head winds as I make my way to Charlevoix.

We finally arrive and I celebrate with a grilled veggie burger and a plate full of fries. I haven’t had a french fry in over two years and I decide it is time to treat myself. We do a little shopping and then head back to Petoskey. The trip back is easier than the trip there as the wind has shifted and is now at our backs.

Our friend, Greg, offers to go get the truck and pick us up at least three times on the way back but I am not giving up. The last leg of the journey from Bay Harbor back to Petoskey proves to be the toughest. I struggle but I manage to finish the final hundred feet by walking my trike up the hill to the hotel. In fact, all of us walk the last bit of that hill. The hotel is approximately 200-300 ft. above sea level. Still, it feels as if we are climbing Mt. Everest.

At the end of the day, I feel great knowing that I am able to ride thirty eight miles in a single day. For me this is definitely an accomplishment and I am pleased that I didn’t give up or or give in and accept a ride. Tenacity pays off once again.

January 1, 2014 – Living in the Now
I am on the phone with a colleague discussing how busy our lives have become. The conversation soon turned to New Year’s resolutions and the goals that we are planning for the year ahead. I mentioned that last year I had resolved to walk, bike or step at least five miles daily while I plotted my mileage digitally along the TransAmerica Trail. Last year, I logged 1,645 exercise miles. Had I met my resolution I would have logged 1,825 miles last year. I missed my original goal by 180 miles. Close, but no cigar. Since I have such a competitive spirit, I have been unhappy with my performance. In fact, during my phone conversation, I had upped the ante on my original goal not because I hadn’t reached it, but because I felt that I had not set my original goal high enough! Despite the fact that I’ve averaged over 4.67 miles daily in the last year, I felt I should have easily reached 1,825 miles. I am thinking that if I had tried harder, I could have reached the 2,000 mile mark last year!

I can easily justify not reaching my goal…physical issues are always a limitation; I have been experiencing more back pain since the cold weather has set in. In addition, finding time for exercise has become a real issue. The time I have had to set aside for exercise has been very limited. I have been putting in twelve-hour work days and working almost every weekend for the last six months.

Despite the setbacks, my work schedule and the physical limitations, after hanging up I found myself asking why I was feeling dissatisfied with what I was able to accomplish last year. Seems I always feel my best is not good enough. I always seem to focus on what I am unable to do instead of being satisfied with I am able to accomplish. Why do I always want more?

The whole scenario reminded me of a parable about a Mexican fisherman that I had read recently…

Adapted from An Anecdote Concerning the Lowering of Productivity
By Heinrich Theodor Böll

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

The moral of the story, of course, is that we are often so focused on having it all, we fail to recognize what we have in the here and now. Last year’s resolution was unrealistic. Not because it was unattainable but , because in my mind’s eye, my performance would never be good enough.

This year I have decided it is more important to celebrate what I have been able to accomplish. I have slid backwards into the deep and unforgiving abyss of believing that my best is not good enough. I have fooled myself into believing if I work harder maybe I can beat my best – silly me!

Life is way too short to constantly strive for tomorrow while each today slips by without a second glance. I have found myself working so hard at achieving that I have failed to see the forest for the trees. As a result, I have gotten in my own way and blocked the path to contentment and happiness. Happiness and contentment can only be reached when we accept where we are in life at any given moment.

Therefore, I resolve to live in the now and continue to keep myself fit so that I am able to enjoy each new day with family and friends. After all, life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.