Freedom (the Mackinac Island Version) 9/18/2022

It’s been a weird summer for me this year. In the 22 years we’ve been coming to Mackinac, I’ve had the freedom to walk or bike anywhere and anytime. If I wanted to ride around the island, with a stop at the Cannonball for fried pickles, my bike was only a few steps out the back door. Maybe it was a great afternoon to ride to the airport and watch planes take off and land. How about spending an afternoon just riding the island backroads, watching the leaves change from green to red? Easily accomplished for the last two decades.

But not so easy this year. I’ve walked a lot, and an hour or two of walking is no biggie for me. It gets me to Doud’s and anywhere downtown I want to shop. I’ve walked to the fort and to both the East and West Bluffs. I’ve walked to Arch Rock. And Mission Point and the Annex. And, as always, I’ve happily spent a great number of hours on the trails in the woods.

But balance issues have kept me off my bike – and I confess I’ve been pretty bummed about it. My one ride on friend Meredith’s recumbent bike earlier in the summer just made me long for more, and after several weeks of company (ours and theirs), Saturday was the day we were able to once more schedule another ride. Meredith rode her husband’s recumbent, and I rode hers. Meredith’s daughter and son-in-law (Delynn and Ted) and my Ted rode along with us on their bikes. We were determined to ride around the island, and I think they all thought we two needed chaperones (which it turned out we did)!

My initial concern was getting down the hill next to the Grand. The one other time I’d ridden this bike we had stayed on level roads. But it handled like a dream, the brakes were great, and soon we were through town and heading past Mission Point.
I hadn’t ridden around the island in several years and had not seen the large rocks that now border the coast and protect the road through wind and rain storms – and high lake levels. There are still open spaces in spots where you can walk down to the beach to wade around or swim.
Ted rode with us for about 2 miles, then peeled off to go watch the Georgia Bulldogs!
DeLynn and her Ted and Meredith – all AVID Michigan State fans. Thank goodness Michigan State wasn’t playing until last night or Meredith and I would have been riding around the island all alone!
We didn’t quit pedaling that often, but Silver Birches, renovated back to its former glory, was well worth a stop.
And of course we stopped at the Cannonball Oasis . . .
. . . for an order of those famous fried pickles!
Ah. The hill. Craig’s bike, which Meredith was riding has regular bike gears. Meredith’s bike, which I was riding, has a pedal assist function. Even with the pedal assist at its highest level, I pretty much struggled up that hill – but I made it without stopping, something I have NEVER done before. Meredith needed a little assistance from Delynn’s Ted, as the gears just didn’t give her enough power. I felt really bad when she turned and told me to pass her and NOT SLOW DOWN. We will definitely have to figure out a different arrangement next time so we both can ride without hill issues. Or we’ll just stay off the hills!

Thoughts on recumbent bikes so far: 1) They are a bit cumbersome and require space to get off the road. If there’s no shoulder, you can’t just pop it off the pavement and put the kick-stand down – because it’s wide. 2) It would be difficult to push if something went wrong with the gears, brakes, etc. It would require bending over and pushing. 3) I really, really like them, and it is a really, really comfortable ride. I have knee and back issues, and riding this bike caused no stress on either of those. I also love that it works your core more than a regular bike. 4) Absolutely no balance issues, which is mostly what keeps me off a regular bike. I feel safe on a recumbent.

If we get to come back to the island next summer, a recumbent is definitely something I will consider purchasing because . . . .

. . . it gives me my freedom back to explore and to zip here and there in a timely manner!

But. Even if I never ride a bike again (of any kind), and even if we return next summer and walking turns out to be my only mode of transportation, I will still consider myself among the luckiest people on this earth. Ted and I have been so fortunate to have called Mackinac our summer home for so many years, and we don’t take that lightly in any way. Mackinac has gifted us with her people and her beauty. And for that we will always say, “Thank You”.

God bless..

18 thoughts on “Freedom (the Mackinac Island Version) 9/18/2022

  1. What a wonderful adventure. I am so happy you were able to bike again. As a wheelchair user, I totally understand the freedom it allows you. My husband and I have stayed many times at the Grand in the 40 years we have been married, but riding around the island perimeter has been on my bucket list. Someday! (Fingers crossed). 🙂
    Thanks for sharing views of my “happy place”!

  2. I haven’t ridden my bike (here at home) for basically the same reason (balance). Those recumbent bikes sure do look comfortable. Or maybe a 3 wheel bike? Like a tricycle 🙂

      • Dear Brenda, Consider “Vestibular Training”, it helps with balance issues. When my husband lost the hearing from his left ear it really threw him off. He did much better after that therapy (if he remembers to do it). A physical therapist did the therapy for him.

  3. I’m happy you were able to ride the recumbent a second time, and with the variety of hills and such! It might be worth seriously considering the purchase, so you can have freedom to move around, as you said. And do any of the Island bike shops sell them, as you could maybe get an end-of-season discount? Friends who have recumbents absolutely love them! I have seen ones where you don’t sit as upright as you were able to. I think I’d prefer the upright style. And WOW to making it up the Grand Hill without stopping! I had to stop twice with my bike! On another note, the Silver Birches restoration is amazing. I’m also amazed at how quickly Brigadoon was restored!

    • I think Mackinac Wheels sells them. I will check on that. Would have never made it up that hill without the pedal assist feature. And yes – to restore Brigadoon in a year’s time was truly a work of monumental proportions. Amazing!

  4. That’s wonderful Bree! I’ve wanted one but only have use of one hand so I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. I’d love the freedom to explore like that. I can only walk but am like a stroke patient so I don’t go far. I sure miss that island.
    Can you give us an update on Silver Birches? Please? I haven’t read or seen any photos except yours.
    Thanks Bree! So glad you are getting around so well after last years setback.

    • Connie, the last I heard was that the plans for Silver Birches to be used as a lodge had fallen through and now it is being used as a private residence. I’ve been meaning to see if I can connect the owner for an update and just haven’t done it so far.

  5. Glad you found a way to bike safely. My husband has balance issues due to hearing loss in one ear & other issues. He went through “Vestibular Training” which helped (A physical therapist did the training) not sure if it could help you but worth looking into.
    My husband now has limited breathing which we are getting testing to figure out if Covid caused it even though it was a mild case (fully vaccinated). For now we are happy strolling slowing, sitting on the Windermere’s porch or taking a taxi.
    Take care!

  6. I have similar issues to yours, and have tried a different style of three wheeled bike. However, I looked like Arte on Laugh-In on the trike and fell over! Maybe this type of bike would work. I sure miss riding! Does your friend ride the bike anywhere besides on the island? Are they safe around automobiles?

    • Hi Barb! Meredith and Craig live year-round on the island. But I have a friend in Florida who uses hers to walk her dogs – on the sidewalk.

  7. I absolutely love reading your posts. I to find MI a beautiful spot and yes you are very fortunate. Not only because u spend summers there but u are healthy and still adventurous. I to would love to stay on the island for a full summer. Blessed Sheryl

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