It is almost a requirement if you come to Mackinac that you ride a bicycle (or walk) around the island. First, you will see lots of touristy spots along the way; second, the views across the Straits of Mackinac to Round Island, Bois Blanc Island, and in the distance, the Les Cheneaux are spectacular; and third, you get to say you did it!
M-185 is a state trunkline highway, a narrow paved road 8.004 miles in length. It has no connection to any other Michigan highway because it is on an island, and it is accessible from elsewhere only by passenger ferry. Traffic on the highway is only by foot, on horse or horse-drawn vehicle, or bicycle. The carriage drivers will tell you that it is the only highway in America where there has never been a car accident.
Ted, Cathie, and I chose Tuesday afternoon for our ride. Ted and I have bikes that we leave up here over the winter, and Judy down the way had offered Cathie her bike. Now Cathie had not been on a bicycle for almost 30 years, but she climbed on Judy’s bike, pronounced it fine except for a needed seat and brake adjustment, and we were off down the hill.
We stopped in at Mackinac Wheels to get the bike checked out and left Ted there because it was going to take about 20 minutes. We had discovered on the way down the hill that it was a lot colder than we had thought. We hurried up Main Street to The Big Store and on purpose bought some really tacky gloves and caps. Back we went to Mackinac Wheels, where the bike had been fixed and was waiting for us. We were ready!
By the way, do you remember Chloe and Bella from yesterday on the ferry? Mackinac Wheels is their “home away from home”. They have free run of the place, their own beds, and the attention of everyone who passes by. Talk about a “dog’s life”!
I have to stop and tell you this about Cathie. She is 67 (I hope she doesn’t shoot me for telling that), and at home in New Orleans she walks for exercise. Not every day, but some. Ted and I both had been concerned about all the walking/biking she would be doing here. We had nothing to worry about. She has been a real trooper – hiking the trails, walking the hill (I stop more than she does), and biking around the island with very few stops. I am in awe of her, and I just hope 6 years down the road, I will be able to do as much as she can now.
We rode on through town out past Mission Point and soon came to Arch Rock, the most spectacular of the island’s limestone formations. It rises 146 feet above the water and spans 50 feet. There is a stairway that leads from the shore road to the top of the arch, but we chose to bypass that and just take a picture from the road. One day soon we’ll hike up, and I’ll take a picture from the top for you.
Ted and Cathie both have a strong desire to WIN at whatever they are doing, and they were constantly heckling each other about keeping up and riding faster. After a mile, Cathie said when she comes back next year, a padded bike seat will be in her suitcase.
At the back side of the island (halfway around) is British Landing. This is where the British LANDED in 1812 to launch their sneak attack on the Americans at Fort Mackinac. Barges that bring construction supplies to the island dock there, and we pulled off for a minute to rest and snap some pictures. That’s the Mackinac Bridge, of course, in the background.
A little past British Landing, we decided to forego the complete circuit and head up into the island so Cathie could see some of the beautiful homes in an area where she hadn’t already been. Ted said, “It’s only a small hill you have to go up.” Sure, Ted. A word to the wise here. If you are EVER anywhere with Ted on foot or on bike, and he says, “It’s only . . . . .”, never, never believe him!
Was all the huffing and puffing worth it? Of course it was! I know I talk a lot about the beautiful homes on the island, but even more than the houses, I love the land – the flowers and the trees that grow wild in the woods, as well as the landscaped yards. My favorite landscaping though is not the sculptured gardens, but the grounds where they have planted wildflowers and left them to grow and bloom profusely into a riot of color.
We road by Stonecliffe Inn, a really great place for dinner, and circled back behind the inn to show Cathie some condos that we had looked at before we found ours. These are even further up into the island than where we are (a REALLY long ride from town). Ted chased Cathie through the driveway at Oakwood Condos.
We all had a wonderful time on our ride (we were gone about two hours), and we hurried home to shower and dress for dinner. Downtown we ate a delicious meal at the Chippewa Hotel and took a taxi home. What a great day on the island! Have I told you about how well you sleep when you visit or live here!
View from the Deck