Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cycling on Mackinac Island

Below: A map of Mackinac Island. My riding was confined to the relatively flat paved road that follows the shoreline around the island. (approximately 8 miles)
Mackinac Island is about 250 miles north of our place. The total land mass of the Island is 4.4 sq miles. Average temp 67.4 Degrees F. That is about what the temp was during our visit. The average rain fall is 27.3 inches. We only had rain at night and one really foggy morning. Average snowfall is 111.8 inches. From what I understand the snow total came nowhere near that last winter. Which was devastating to the economy all through northern Michigan. Snowmobiling is a huge winter attraction up north.
Above: This is Main street (part of the coastal road) right in front of the Lilac Tree Hotel where we stayed during our holiday. Horses and bicycles are the main forms of transportation on Mackinac Island. There are no motor vehicles allowed on the Island. In the summer the island can only be reached by ferry or airplane. However they do have Fire Trucks, a Police s.u.v. an Ambulance and Utility vehicles. None of which we saw on the road during our visit. They are kept out of sight and only used when absolutely necessary.
As you can imagine this is a wonderful place to ride a bike. I did not notice any bike parking racks on main street. So just about every bike has a kick-stand. And no bikes can be left on the street at night. Our hotel had night parking behind the building which I imagine they all do. I mentioned to my wife that, "the no bikes on the street at night law might be because that's when they wash the roads to minimize the smell of horse droppings". They do an amazing job at keeping the horse droppings cleaned up. However the faint smell of horse droppings seems to be pretty much everywhere outside.
Above: Two work horses waiting for the wagon to be loaded for local delivery. Everything is delivered by wagon or bicycle. I was told the UPS Driver rides along with the wagon driver to deliver his packages. During the winter many of the horses on the island are moved to Pickford in the Upper Peninsula. I found this interesting because I had relatives there for many years who have since moved away.
Above: There are basically two types of bicycles on the island, working bikes and everything else. This is a typical porters or delivery bike.
Above: This Felt is probably the most interesting bike I saw during our visit. I believe it has hydraulic disc brakes. I found out recently that I have a half cousin who is a "Wrench" (his description, not mine) for Felt. He must be one hell of a mechanic to work for Felt. As I understand it, they are one of the finest bike builders in the world. I doubt I`ll be finding one of these any time soon at the Thrift Of course I said the same thing about clipless pedals. And eventually I did find a set on a Thrift Store bike. The cool thing about collecting old stuff is, the supply is never ending. And always growing.
Above: There are some "touristy" things to do on the island as well. Fort Mackinac is pretty cool. But for myself a life long Michigander it falls under the heading "Been there and done that". But if you have never seen it, it is really cool. The other big "touristy thing" is buying and eating Mackinac Fudge. Don`t ask me why though. I don`t get it either. And there are the huge carriage rides. And they are ridiculously huge. But no worries, they have huge horses to pull them.
Above: Ok! I admit it, I went on the stupid huge carriage ride! Sometimes when you love someone you just have to go along for the ride. But if you like looking at trees and hearing really bad jokes, you will love the huge carriage ride. Ok enough of the stupid touristy stuff, back to the bikes.
Above: Not being in top shape right now I decided to bring the Specialized Rock Hopper FS. The fixed gear bike can be demanding even on fairly tame hills. Also the Specialized breaks down small and does fit into the trunk of our sub compact Ford Fiesta nicely. I did need a little time for reassembly when we got there. But that should not have been a problem. Of course it was a problem as I was being rushed onto the ferry that was leaving in a few minutes. It`s a good thing I mentioned several times that I would need a little time...So it But the Specialized worked out perfectly as I did need to down shift a few times.
Heading east from the hotel it is a short ride to the State Park, about a mile I guess. The shoreline is all natural for the most part, I saw the remnants of only one old dock but that was a few miles into the coast line ride.
Above: All along the stoney shore line visitors build monuments from stone and drift wood. This smaller one was one of my favorites. Being a retired Journeyman Mason I appreciate the selection process to end up with a specific shape and color.
Looking ahead down the shore line I can see the monuments decorating the shore line. Not often do you see anything "man made" that makes a shoreline look better or more interesting. And knowing they are only stacked stones and will eventually fall, I don`t feel they impact the environment in a negative way. And in a few years the show will be all new works of art.
Above: There are also interesting things to see on the inland side of the road like Arch Rock shown above. But most of the time my eyes are drawn to the shoreline. I probably missed some very nice views on the inland side. I will make an effort to take more notice on the next visit.
As far as wild life goes, it was the middle of the afternoon so all I really saw were these Sea Gulls. I was hoping to see an Eagle but I`m not sure there are any in this area. I do know there are some near Munising in the Upper Peninsula where I hope to live someday.
Above: This image is courtesy of elizababble@wordpressdotcom. In between really awful jokes.. We were told by the driver of the huge carriage that, The Pileated Woodpecker is native to the island. Also that it is the second largest woodpecker in the lower 48 states. After seeing the woodpeckers handiwork I have no problem believing this. By the way, I never actually saw a woodpecker, hence the borrowed photograph.
Above: This is one of my three favorite stone monuments. I built more than a few arches in my day so I can appreciate the forces at work here. This is cool and it was done without the assistance of a template. Or a key Stone for that matter.
Above: And this is the third of my three favorite monuments. I wonder if that timber was once part of a sailing ship. Farther north the ship wrecks from old wooden craft are in excellent condition. I was told, that is because the water is so cold. When I was about 17 I jumped into lake Michigan near Grand Haven early in the spring time. I took one uncontrolled deep breath and I think my heart skipped a beat. For about one second I thought it was all over. I never repeated that experience. And compared to Lake Superior (farther north) that water was warm.
Above: This kind fellow offered to stop and take my picture. I told him, Thanks but I think I have it covered.
Above: Yeah, I got it covered all right... LTMS... I don`t know why I am always so reluctant to except help from anyone. I can be such an ass sometimes.
The sky looks brighter ahead. It is late afternoon and I am about to round the curve to the south/west side of the island. The Mackinac bridge should be coming into sight soon.
Above: I did manage to get a picture of my Rock Hopper and Myself. The bike performed well except the front derailleur was not able to reach the large chain ring. It was fine last time I rode the bike. Due to the limited amount of tools I brought along. And the fact that the middle chain ring is just fine. I`ll deal with it when I get home. It's not like I am in a hurry.
Above: Finally the Mackinac bridge or as some like to call it "The Big Mack" comes into view. I think it was built in about 1957. I remember a day (many years ago) my Dad was reading the paper and announced "Hey the bridge is paid off". They still charge a toll to cross it though. I will be riding into a more residential area and will not be taking many more pictures.
Above: When I made my way back to Main Street I spotted this old freighter cruising by. I think I saw the same ship the day we arrived. I wonder if it is used for bridge maintenance or to restock the island?
Across Main Street from one of the many resorts I spotted all these empty Adirondack chairs facing the lake. I heard someone say "they will start moving the horses to Pickford tomorrow". And many of the seasonal workers will be heading home tomorrow or off to their winter jobs. Being a Northerner at heart, I don`t get it. This is my favorite time of year to be outside. Much easier to work and play hard without all the sweat and fatigue. I have always felt better in the cold weather. And the cool season seems to be getting shorter every year. I hope I am gone by the time it disappears all together.
Above: I saw this lady ride by with her son riding in the trailer. He looked like He was really enjoying the ride. It looks like a nice rig for hauling groceries, supplies or kids! The wire basket seems to be the most popular accessory on an island bike. I should also mention that there are several bike rental places located all around the main street area. You can even rent a team and buggy if you like. Or you can hire a private buggy and driver, but it will cost you a pretty penny. Actually several.
Above: When it was time to go home we took the ferry back to the mainland. I believe a round trip ticket is 20.00 and an extra 8.00 for the bike. We took the "Star line" ferry but there are others as well. We chose the Star line more for the car parking than anything else. I did accidentally leave my lap top in the car the first night. And it was still there in the morning.
Above: I will be posting the final assembly of the 1964 Raleigh sports real soon I am waiting for one last thing to arrive. I want the final pics to be perfect. Until next time Please RIDE SAFELY and Remember to Always... RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE! Cheers, Hugh
ATTENTION AMAZON SHOPPERS! You can help Support This Blog by simply shopping on Amazon dot com using the Amazon Search Box located at the Top Right Corner of This Page. It will not effect your cost and I will receive a very small commission. Thanks for your support, Hugh


  1. Great post!!! Sounds like an ideal bike vacation.=) But whats with that big nasty bug in the last pic?

    1. Hey John,
      That pic is just there to separate my blog post from my pathetic plea for support.

  2. One of these days I need to get to Mackinac Island.

  3. Looks like a great adventure. One of my fishing buddies goes to Michigan to canoe in the fall. I'll have to tell him about your trip.

    1. Please do :) you might mention the blog too

  4. A fine post. I would like to live somewhere that has no automobiles. I wonder what the tradesmen do there? Big wagons? Why not? Still, when it is time to haul lumber (or block)Big Horses would certainly be handy. Thanks for slipping a photo of a greased bearing in there at the last. It made it seem like home.


    1. Now that you mention it. I did see a small load of two core 8 inch blocks on a flatbed wagon. I should have snapped a pic of that I guess.

  5. Glad you got some time away Hugh and it seems like a wonderful place to bike. I crossed the "Big Mack" on my way to the UP but didn't visit the Island. Some day perhaps. I recall camping in Mi. and for some reason they asked for my home address which at the time was Clackamas, Or. The park employee remarked at how odd that name was, I waited a beat and said "oh and Cheboygan is so run of the mill". I don't think he found it that funny but its a story that I recall when I think about how "funny sounding" some town or county is.

    1. Like Kalamazoo? How about Monkey's Eyebrow, Ky? Now that I think of it, Comstock Park is in Michigan.

    2. LTMS... My all time favorite is in Canada
      "Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan" Now that's a name!

    3. The UP has Christmas Michigan and the lower has Hell Michigan. I prefer Christmas over Hell :)

  6. Looks like a nice place, I can not wait to see the finished Raleigh.

    1. Hey Dan,
      You can see it now my friend. I think I just broke my own record for the number of photographs in one blog post. I hope you enjoy it! :)


Cycling Blog Directory