Wertz Warriors Journal – Days 5&6

Day late and a dollar short. Due to a late night at the Opening Ceremonies and some miscommunication, I didn’t have access to my computer last night so we are going to recap the past TWO days of the ride. They are big days, can’t overlook them.

So we started in Cadillac on Wednesday morning at Evergreen Resort with our first stop scheduled for the Mesick AmVets. I was scheduled for three live segments from the resort. It was a wind chill of -24 that morning. I was outside doing live shots with one of the original riders (ALL 38 years) who said this was the coldest ride they have ever had, one with Luther Bradley and another with Mark and Al Young, a father-son team from Remus. It also took me a good 15 pulls on my sled to get it started in those kind of temperatures.

We literally got about 75 yards from our starting point before our leader blew out his clutch, ran in to a fence and put us 20 minutes behind schedule. It was just the newest thing to pop up but we hit the trails and took off.

This stretch of the trails is absolutely beautiful. This is what they mean by “God’s Country.” Heavy woods just blanketed in snow, looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

The Mesick AmVets is one of the better lunches on the ride. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and pecan pie, just like Grandma makes. But they also do a lot of work to raise money for us, a couple thousand dollars later, we are back on the sleds and heading towards Peegeo’s near Traverse City.

Our first move on the stretch is to cross M-37. We have a support crew of about 30 guys that drive vans, trucks, semi trucks and our snowmobile trailers. They take our equipment from stop to stop but also block traffic for us at major roadways. We had a pickup truck and a snowmobile trailer sitting along the side of the road, ready to pull out to block traffic but instead a car came flying through in the snowy conditions and hit the trailer, sending it flying and bending the back of the pickup. Everybody was okay but we rode past and continued on the road.

The ride to Grand Traverse County was again filled with a few wrong turns and double backs but we trudged on, fell behindon schedule and got to Peegeo’s. George and the crew there always treat us well. We got a $2,000 donation from them and head towards the Opening Ceremonies. We usually get to the Games and the first thing we do is give rides to the athletes but due to the frigid cold, the athletes were kept indoors and the rides were cancelled so we went directly to Turtle Creek Casino, where we were staying, and took shuttles over to the Grand Traverse Resort.

We spent an hour signing autographs for the athletes and mingling before the big show. I won’t spend a whole lot of time recapping the Ceremonies but this has always been our biggest selling point. If a rookie rider makes it to the Opening Ceremonies and sees the athletes, the excitement, the atmosphere, the pride…you are sold for life. Our rookies this year are no different, some were brought to tears. It’s amazing, if you haven’t been, GO.

After the Ceremonies, we all disperse around the Resort and Turtle Creek to talk with athletes and fans or finish out the night.

On to Thursday, our first destination was Mancelona, the Moose Lodge and the elementary school for lunch. But unfortunately, the school was closed due to the weather so the stop was cancelled. The money raised by the school, penny wars and other fundraisers, was presented at the Moose Lodge. Another big time donation and we hit the road again.

The weather was perfect, other than the near sub-zero temperatures. It was warmer than Wednesday but still not warm by any means. The next move was on to the Hideaway Bar near Starvation Lake. We received a nice big check, had a drawing for a new helmet and enjoyed some great pizza.

Then we hit our longest ride of the week so far, 60 miles from there to Lewiston where we had two stops and our final stop at Garland Resorts.

The Moose Lodge was our first stop in Lewiston where between the local lodge and the statewide Moose, we brought in nearly $10,000. Then we went to Tally’s (of course ate a ton of the best burgers in the state) and collected another $3,500. THEN went to dinner at the Rustic Inn and finished the Lewiston collection with a near total of $24,000. A lot of money for such a small community. (I have said that a few times in this series, haven’t I?)

We are getting to the time of the ride where things are getting sore, sleds are breaking down and we are tired but the finish line is in sight.

Friday Schedule

9:00 AM – Paul’s Pub (Johannesburg)

11:45 AM – VFW Onaway

1:05 PM – Eagles (Millersburg)

3:00 PM – Thirsty Sturgeon (Wolverine)

5:15 PM – Fairfield Inn (Gaylord)