Call 185, or 8.2. Or better yet, the most picturesque state highway in Michigan. You may have heard: this is the dream of a cyclist. Mostly flat, great views, and just a mile from traffic jams.
More importantly, there’s not a single car on M-185. Never was, never will be. Welcome to the time chain of Mackinac Island. Here dodging apples from the road is an important skill. Dodge cars, not so much. Thank God.
This is my fourth trip to this legendary island in Mackinac Strait, the living water between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Because I lived in Horse Country, also known as Ocala, my previous visits were focused on horses. Not this time.
Getting married to a cyclist meant a little compromise. If he were hiking, I would ride a bicycle. I have never been a cyclist and still have a lot to learn.
The only thing I insist on is not driving with traffic. Drivers are too distracted these days, and I have lost friends who have been run over by motorists. So, our goal of this trip was dedicated bike paths.
The Mackinac Island tour on the M-185 is the easy bike tour. You spend most of your drive in Mackinac Island State Park, which protects 80% of the island. Forests and beaches are your constant companions.
I have learned a lot about our island Tour, all are worth a visit if you plan to drive it too. While many of them apply to any bike ride, some are strictly a Mackinac thing.
Attention for beginners. I consider myself a relatively inexperienced rider, but here everyone can and will rent a bike, even those who have not yet ridden. We found families who were arrested in the middle of the road and blocked the way, and some drivers misjudged the space they had to pass. John has a rule of thumb to leave at least one bike length between you and the next rider, so you have time to react. Leave as much space as possible.
Pay attention. Of everything. Dart kids on the street. Dogs run in front of you. Large wagons drawn by horses come out in front of them. I was cut off after reporting a curve. A young woman, who could not be ten years old, hit me almost head-on because she was on the wrong track and looked at her phone while kicking. John yelled at him when I wanted to do it. When we checked into the Mission Point Resort, Shaquira showed us her scars from a bad bike accident at the front desk and said she was reluctant to ride. Understandable.
Byoh. Most riders did not have a helmet. We brought our bikes on the ferry, so we had carried ours. Other people who cycle regularly also had their own. It’s just a smart bike, especially where roads, trees and rocks are part of the landscape.
Beware of ferry docks. We arrived on the Star Line, and our Crew explicitly told the passengers that the road is for riding and the sidewalks are for walking. But at the next quay we passed, people flocked to the other side of the street and ignored us. I continued to say “ding ding” because I don’t have a bell, but I had to slow down and weave between them. I almost fell on it. Professional tip: Take Market Street instead of Main Street through downtown.
Avoid horse droppings. They do a great Job of sweeping it on Main Street, but the rental cars continue along M-185 and drop their loads where no one cleans them. Also throughout the State Park. Steer clear.
Stay cool. It is not a race. You could climb m-185 in an hour or less, but why?
We stopped and talked to people, watched the world go by and exchanged photos like old times before selfies.
It was really a pleasant ride. It did not hurt that the sun was shining even though the air was bright. We stopped halfway, British Landing, and ate a light lunch at the Cannonball Drive Inn after visiting the nature center.
Along the road there are natural trails to explore – three I had never seen before-and many kilometers of coastline to enjoy.
On my first rocky beach I discovered an agate. Then another one. I found more agates on this trip as this month, without even trying hard.
There are also geological features that are worth a stop. I had seen Dwight wood, Spring and Arch Rock on walks, but other fascinating Features such as Chimney Rock and Devil’s Kitchen new for me.
As we learned from the book of our friend Kath on the island of Mackinac, we sent bike permits in advance. Every bike on the island must have one – no cars, remember, so bikes are transport-so the rental bikes were obvious from their hangtags. You can get them from the ferry operators for an additional fee if you bring your own bike.
As a Backpacker and John with a bike packing experience-Packed small, to meet on the Star Line ferry from St.. Ignace. John knew exactly how to balance our luggage bag for the short drive to Mission Point
When we were here, we unpacked our luggage and bicycle bags and went inside. It was strange to park bikes in a large parking lot, but that’s how we ride on Mackinac Island!
Of course, I insisted that John participate in the mandatory purchase of fudge, because it is Mackinac. But we did it his way: by bike.