I've done locations on Hancock and McLain State Park, but what's equally important is the road that connects them, M203. It's a nicely paved stretch of two-lane highway, and some of the views are just ridiculously nice!
It’s FINALLY warm and dry enough to get out for the first road bike of the year. There’s still snow (as you’ll see below), but it’s fading fast. I took a Tuesday off, since it was the warmest day so far this year, and went for a bike ride.
My favourite place on the planet is McLain State Park, so when I want to go for a short bike ride, that’s usually where I head. It’s 11 miles one-way, so packing a sandwich in my hydration pack means a pleasant picnic on the shore when I get there.
It’s not complicated, either. I go down my little side street, turn down one, cross one highway (US-41), then turn right onto M203. It’s a wide road, but still two-lane, and the cars have always been friendly on it to me. Most drivers go so far as to move into the oncoming lane to pass even though I’m on the shoulder. Nice.
M203 takes me out along the west end of Hancock, making a right turn when it meets the Portage Canal. The Canal is just to the south of M203 for most of this ride. This is also really the only heavy exertion on the ride (in this direction): climbing up out of town over about a half mile a couple of hundred feet. It’s much harder early in the season!
The next six or so miles are really pleasant. With the Canal right there, the views are just tremendous. I find peace so easily right here.
Portage Canal gets a bit thinner towards Upper Entry (which also happens to mark the southern boundary of McLain State Park), and M203 cuts a more direct path to the park. With the bit of breeze from the water gone, what you can hear most (assuming your bike isn’t making any cantankerous noises!) is a whole collection of birds. I heard loons, Canadian geese, and sandhill cranes on this day.
Cyclists don’t have to pay an entry fee into McLain State Park, so I just ride on in, give a wave to the employees – who happen to be the only other people there today – and wander to the water. I’ve done a few other albums of McLain, so I won’t put together an entire panorama here. But it’s a great treat to be here, and even though it’s a short ride, nice to relax the legs and the mind.