Throw Back Thursday – Rideable Art 2/16/17

Personal Note:  I loved doing this story!  It involved an afternoon of Jill and I traipsing around the downtown area looking for different bikes, different bike baskets, different bike seats, etc.  Jill is an expert bike analyst, and we had so much fun that day!

Header: A photo from the Rideable Art blog.

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First published in August, 2010

Sometimes I get so hung up on posting pretty pictures that I forget to talk about subjects that are of vital importance to those of us who live on the island – and those of you who are planning to visit.  It wasn’t until a reader recently suggested I write a blog on Mackinac Island bicycles that I even thought about everything I hadn’t written about bikes in almost two summers of blogging.  So consider this “Bikes 101” – or “What Everyone Should Know about Two-Wheelers Before Coming to the Island.”  In the time it takes to complete this little seminar,  you’ll also get to see some pretty snazzy bikes – “rideable art” as Grant Petersen has called them.

After I got off work at the Stuart House Museum this afternoon, Jill and I set out to tour downtown looking at different kinds of bikes.  That hadn’t been my original intent, but as usual, anything I plan to do during the day gets changed 10 times before 9 o’clock each morning.  Jill had an hour-and-a-half before she had to be at work, and if there is anyone on this island who knows everything about bikes on Mackinac, it’s Jill.  After all, she’s been coming to the Island every year since the 70’s – that’s a lot of bike knowledge!  She had popped into the Stuart House a little while before I got off and had on the cutest shirt – it was covered in bikes.  Thus, my inspiration to go ahead and write the bike story today instead of what I had originally planned.

Jillski in her biking shirt.

Most of the bikes you’ll be seeing are personal bikes of folks who live here during the summer, although a few may be rentals. 

If you are going to be on the island for more than a week, you need to bring your own bike.  Even having to pay to bring it across on the ferry ($8.00, I think) will be way cheaper than renting one for a week.  Of course, if you just like to hike around, no bike is necessary – or you can rent one for a day or two.  That’s what Ted and I did when we came on vacation for two weeks every summer.  We’d only rent bikes once – the day we biked around the island each year.  Once we bought the condo, we bought bikes to keep here. 

This is the bike I ride now – it’s a Biria, which Ted bought used at the end of last summer.  The Biria was introduced into the U.S. market in 2002 and was designed in Germany.  The “step-through” mounting is why I love this bike.  No lifting the old leg over a bar.  These bikes are unisex.  Except for the easy-mount feature, this is a really plain bike – I haven’t even put a basket on it yet.  But it does have a spring-operated device behind the seat that allows me to put my purse and other stuff there.  It also has both hand and foot operated brakes, which is pretty cool.  I do need a basket though.  Please also notice the really chic shower cap I use as a rain protector for the seat.  I learned the hard way to buy the shower caps that are $2.00 each – not the 3 for $.97 shower caps.

When Jill and I started cruising the bike stands around town, we focused on unique colors, basket design, and any other feature that stood out and shouted, “This bike belongs to somebody who has a mind of his or her own!”  When you live on the island all summer (or all year), and your bike is your only form of wheeled transportation, you want it to be special – just like on the mainland you want the coolest car on the street. 

BIKES OF A DIFFERENT COLOR 

Shiny pink!

 

Baby blue. This could be a rental because I don’t see a bike permit sticker anywhere (but I could have missed it). If you ride your own bike on the island, you go to the police station, pay $3.50 for a permit, and stick it on the crossbar – just like buying the annual sticker for your car tag – only way cheaper!

A spiffy black & white design.  Definitely a girls’s bike.  Wow – look at that – flowers on the fenders too!

A blue-patterned bike.  Again this could be a rental.  The bike shops will add a basket to any bike you rent at no charge.  Always ask for a basket!  You will be surprised how much will end up in there – your purse, your camera, your jacket, your water bottle, PLUS your husband’s sweatshirt he wants to take off halfway around the island.

Deep coral. Very pretty.  See all the stickers on the cross bar – definitely an islander’s bike.

Three bikes – three shades of green!

I’m going to call this peach, although I don’t think that’s right.  Maybe my readers can help me here.  Cool bike with it’s own cup holder and a big, black wire basket.  Has a bell on the handlebars too.

Two-tone.  This one is pink and white . . .

. . . this one – green and white.

Bright, bright yellow – and my personal favorite of the colors I photographed today.  Notice the custom handlebars.

A WORD ABOUT FENDERS

Picture this.  It’s a rainy day on Mackinac Island – or a few hours AFTER the rain.  Someone is riding around town with no idea whatsoever that from the back neck of whatever shirt/coat/sweater they are wearing, all the way down to where their bottom is planted on the bike seat, there is a wide, very distinct stripe of mud and horsepoop.  That stripe is there because the bike has no fender.  If you’re going to ride a bike on the island, you need fenders.  Trust me on that.

UNIQUE BASKETS

For the discriminating shopper – dual baskets, one on each side of the back tire. Great for a trip to Douds.  Plastic bag seat cover.  Not as good as a shower cap – but readily available at any store downtown (or stuff one in your pocket before you leave home).

What to do with leftover carpet pieces? Make a custom bottom for your bike basket. If you’re carrying something breakable – this helps.  Look at the extra shock absorbers under the bike seat.  I bet this is one is an extra-comfy ride!

A line of standard wire baskets.

Our best guess was this must belong to the guy who delivers pizza for Island Slice.

A wood-bottomed basket. Doesn’t cushion as well as carpet, but won’t stay wet as long either – if it happens to rain.  Again, the all-important bungee cord.

The ultimate in padding.  This biker is taking old bike inner tubes and cutting them into strips.  The strips are then woven through the wire, creating a padded basket.  No breakage!

Hmmmm – this one has led a long and out-in-the-elements life.  Still going strong though and attached to what looks like a brand new bike.  It’s kinda like buying a new car and telling the dealership to put your old car’s hood ornament on the new car.  Some things you just can’t part with.

 HIS AND HERS

We see a lot of these bikes come off boats anchored in the marina. They’re light, and they fold up into a compact, easy-to-store means of transportation.

I loved these two bikes and wish I could have met their owners. The guy bike looks military, even had a star on the crossbar. The girl’s bike is feminine and distinct.  Even the way they’re locked together looks cute.

I can’t tell you how many times we saw “his and hers” Schwinns locked together this afternoon . . .

. . . here are two more – although these might be “his and his”.  It’s hard to tell sometimes because they are making a lot of bikes now with a crossbar that is unisex.

ISLAND BIKES

We know this couple, and the husband bought his wife this bike for her birthday. She added the cute sign.  It has bells, cute matching black/white trim on red, a great big basket, and a cup holder.  She said she added the tassles just to prove she was still a little girl at heart.

No doubt about it – this guy is a Packers fan!

Haven’t figured out exactly how to interpret this ornament – but it’s sure cute!

Obviously a Great Turtle Toys employee.

This guy tells his whole story on his bike basket – he loves Michigan, Mackinac Island, Superman, and America.  What more could you possibly need to know?

 THE SEAT’S THE THING

Seats are as unique now as clothing. Zebra . . . flowers . . . and a shower cap to keep it dry.

Jill’s bike seat. Geez Louise – she’s going to kill me for putting this on here.

Under-the-seat storage.

Spider-Man seat – in fact, it was a Spider-Man bike! Cute, cute, cute!

Just when I think I know all the tricks, I learn a new one. See the hankie stuffed under the seat? That’s there in case it rains, and you didn’t bring a seat cover. Just whip it out, dry off the seat, stuff it back under the seat, and hop on.

BICYCLE AUCTION

There is an area on the island where all recovered bikes go to wait out the winter. These bikes have usually been stolen (although in most cases, “borrowed and not returned” is a better phrase to use. Someone doesn’t want to have to walk somewhere, spots an unlocked bike, hops on and rides off on it. When they get to where they needed to go, they push the bike into a nearby crowded bike rack and walk off. This happens a lot on the island. Usually all an owner has to do is go downtown and look around for a while, and he will find his bike. We’ve had bikes stolen out of our yard (they were unlocked), and they’ve always been found downtown the next morning – twice they were found in the police department bike parking lot!

But – sometimes no one looks for the bike, or the bike is abandoned in the woods, and no one finds it for a month when someone happens upon it while walking a trail, or season workers have bought a used bike at the beginning of the summer and just leave it on the dock when they leave for the winter. Any recovered bike is brought to this storage area. In the Spring, the bikes are auctioned off to the highest bidder. A great time to get a good bike for very little money!

Finally, I wanted to show you a true, true, true island bike.

We counted 15 years of bike permits on this bike.  It has your standard fenders, a large wire basket with bungee cords, another Super Soft bike seat, and – very important – a mounted bike light for night biking.  This biker is prepared for anything, anytime, anywhere.

A FEW BIKE TIPS

  • If you use plastic bags as seat covers, ALWAYS throw them into a trash can.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, spooks the horses of the Island like a plastic bag flying across the road.  It is a hazard everyone who lives here deals with everyday, and that’s why – when you are here – you will probably see at least one islander chasing a bag down the road.  Please throw them away – or stick them way down in your pocket so you can use them again.
  • The road is for horses and bikes.  The sidewalk is for walking.  No bikes on the sidewalk, no walking in the street.
  • Horses always have the right of way.  It’s so much easier for you to stop and wait than it is for a driver to stop two 2,200 lb. horses.
  • Always, always, always lock your bike.
  • Always, always, always wear a helmet.

Without Jill’s vast knowledge of all things “bike”, I couldn’t have written this one!  Thanks, Jillski!

 

Fun With the Grands! 7/31/16

How much fun can you pack into a Friday and Saturday on Mackinac Island with two teenagers?  I think we set the record!

FRIDAY

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We started Friday with a bike ride up to Fort Holmes, with stops along the way near Anne’s Tablet to look out across the Jewel Golf Course to the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge.

I guess I should state right about here that the four of us were on bikes, but there were several stretches when BeBe (that’s me) bailed off the bike and walked up the steepest parts (like Mission Hill, the East Bluff, and Fort Holmes Road).  I was the only one who had to do that, but I’m proud to say I stuck with them for most of the way!

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It was another gorgeous Mackinac summer day – in the 70’s, with a little breeze.  The view from Lookout Point down on Sugar Loaf was a sea of green leading to a brilliant blue Lake Huron.

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Inside the restored Fort Holmes structure, Matthew and Jordan were amazed and astounded by all the history G-Daddy knew about the War of 1812.  LOL!

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On Fort Holmes ramparts. Through the open stockade door, you can see the lake.

 

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The new structure from the edge of the hill.

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After a burger at Mission Point Resort’s Bistro on the Green, we challenged each other to a game of puttputt – girls against guys.

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The girls won, BUT Matthew got a hole-in-one on the last hole!

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After dinner, we headed downtown for ice cream from the No Name Café (loving their Moomers Ice Cream) . . .

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. . . then stopped in to see Jill at the Island Bookstore.  Right next door is Great Turtle Toys, where Jordan and Matthew tried to teach G-Daddy Kendama tricks.

Ted and I have been pretty amused at how early Jordan and Matthew are ready for bed each night AND the fact that they slip in a nap or two during the day.  Of course, so do we!

SATURDAY

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Saturday morning found me back volunteering at the Stuart House Museum  The kids stopped by during the morning, and Matthew came back by with half a pound of fudge for me to have for lunch at my desk.  Thank you, Matthew!

Speaking of fudge, you would not BELIEVE how much fudge these two can consume.  They make a fudge run every single day, and it is all gone by bedtime.  Amazing!  Matthew is also a pickle lover.  The second day they were here he bought a big jar of dill pickles at Doud’s and ate the ENTIRE jar in one sitting (we weren’t aware he was doing that, by the way).  Then he followed it with a 1/2 lb. box of fudge.  I don’t even want to think about what would happen to me if I did that, but he was perfectly fine – ate a huge dinner and went to bed without a problem.  Ahhh, youth!

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On Saturday afternoon, while BeBe and G-Daddy rested, Matthew and Jordan took their island map and rode out to find the Crack in the Island and the Cave in the Woods.  They then rode back to the cave where they’d gone geo-caching with Ted and their parents near Robinson’s Folly back in 2012 (where they’d been with Ted on Wednesday). They found the geo-cache again and opened it to find the note they had written four years ago.  How cool is that!

We had tacos for dinner, then Jordan and I stayed up to watch Somewhere In Time.  It was Jordan’s first time to see the movie, and I’m embarrassed to tell you how many times I’ve watched it.  I cried  . . . . again.

Here it is Sunday night (I’ll tell you about Sunday on another day), and we can’t believe we only have one more full day left with the kids before they leave on Tuesday.  This week has gone way too fast!

The view from the window above our bed at dusk.

The view from the window above our bed at dusk.

God bless.

School is in Session . . . but Summer is not Over! 9/4/2013

Michigan is a tourism state, and therefore it’s a state law school cannot open before Labor Day.  So while most of the country’s schools have been going strong for a week or more, Mackinac Island students have had extra days to work summer jobs or just ride bikes and horses and have fun.

All good things must come to an eventual end though, and Tuesday Mackinac Island Public School opened its doors for the 2013-14 school year to approximately 85 students K-12.  The great exodus down the hill from our neighborhood in the Village began Tuesday morning as we heard shouts of excitement and laughing voices go by our condo.   There are a few students who don’t live up in the Village, but the majority of them walk or ride right by our condo each school day.

A little before noon Ted and I followed their path down the hill and into the school yard for the annual Back to School Community Picnic.  The entire island is invited to attend and show support of education and children staying in school.  A large number turns out each year – including the Mayor, City Council and other City officials, and Fire and Police officers.  The children of Mackinac never doubt they are supported fully by their community.

We crested the little knoll that partially hides the school from Cadotte Avenue to find folks already seated and eating.

We crested the little knoll that partially shields the school from Cadotte Avenue to find folks already seated and eating.

Smoke rose from twin grills as School Superintendent/Principal David Waaso flipped burgers and hog dogs like a pro.

Smoke rose from twin grills as School Superintendent/Principal David Waaso flipped burgers and hot dogs like a pro.

We grabbed buns, burgers, salad and watermelon - then tried to find a seat.

We grabbed buns, burgers, salad and watermelon – then tried to find a seat.

 
Most of the students had already eaten by the time we arrived and were busy doing what children do - having fun!

Most of the students had already eaten by the time we arrived and were busy doing what children do – having fun!

 
The finale of the picnic was the flying of huge flags in celebration of a new school year.  We have flags available to purchase on Mackinac, and there are always employees flying demos on Windermere Point during the summer.  Today the flags were at the school yard and set up to all rise at once.

The finale of the picnic was the flying of huge kites in celebration of a new school year. We have kites available to purchase on Mackinac at Great Turtle Toys, and there are always employees flying demos at Windermere Point during the summer. Today the kitess were at the school yard and set up to all rise at once.

 
At the appropriate time the kites were released . . .

At the appropriate time and to swelling music,  the kites were released . . .

 
. . . and after a few snags and one kite in a tree (doesn't it always happen to one?), they were aloft!

. . . and after a few snags and one kite in a tree (it always happens to one), they were aloft!

 
After the kite release, students reentered the school to hear a motivational speaker. I left Ted and Larry discussing the problems of the world and went in search of pretty scenes to photograph.

After the kite release, students reentered the school to hear a motivational speaker. I left Ted and Larry discussing the problems of the world and went in search of pretty scenes to photograph.

Since being trapped inside so long not feeling well, it’s as though I have this unbelievable craving to make sure I capture Mackinac during these final days of summer . . . before Fall arrives in all its gorgeous – but completely different – colorful wardrobe.

There are just not enough adjectives to describe this summer's street baskets.  Jack Barnwell and his crew outdid themselves this year - both on the streets and at so many public buildings and private homes.  By the way,

There are just not enough adjectives to describe this summer’s street baskets. Jack Barnwell and his crew outdid themselves this year – both on the streets and at so many public buildings and private homes. By the way, Jack has a book out called Gardens of Mackinac Island that they can’t keep on the shelves at the Island Bookstore and Little Luxuries.  Awesome book with photographs that will make you want to rush out and buy every flower you can find, dig up all your flowerbeds, and start all over again.  But maybe you better wait until next summer for that :).

 
I think this was a flowerbed along the front of the Lakeview Hotel.

From a flowerbed along the front of the Lakeview Hotel.

 
The Monarchs have arrived!

The Monarchs have arrived!

Again, I'm speechless at the flowers in front of this gorgeous cottage on the board walk.  And as a backdrop - two grand buses take a break before heading for the ferry docks.

Jaw-dropping beauty in front of a gorgeous cottage on the board walk. And as a backdrop – two grand buses take a break before heading for the ferry docks.

Same freighter - same buses . . . .

Same freighter – same buses . . . .

. . . and from behind.

. . . and from behind.

Behind some twisted old lilac branches, a backyard remains hidden.

Behind some twisted and ancient lilac branches, a backyard remains hidden from passing visitors . . . unless you look closely.

Heading back to the condo up and

Here I’m heading back to the condo up a sidewalk that a few days ago was full of visitors.  You can tell by the tip-tops of the trees along Cadotte that it was a windy day.

The largest kite was still flying above the school yard.

The largest kite was still flying above the school yard.

Turning around, I got the view looking down Cadotte . . . empty except

Turning around, I got the view looking down Cadotte . . . empty except for a private buggy, one taxi, a bike, and a couple of walkers.  The Grand flowers have a long way to go before the summer’s over for them – they remain spectacular!

This little girl passed me as I walked home.  She was returning from the first day of school

This little girl passed me as I walked home. She was returning from the first day of school – helmet firmly on her head, backpack attached – ensemble in perfectly coordinated shades of lilac.  No carpools, no school buses.  Everyone gets to school under their own power until snow covers the island . . . and the snow machines once again come out of hiding.

Happy Wednesday!