Monday, August 28
Lessons: Despite the love of riding, I've learned that being on a bike consecutive hours on consecutive days is difficult work. Fun. But work that tires you out at the end of the day.
More lessons: Internet access might be spotty at times...blog may have some missing days.
Here it is, two days shy of a week since I left IL and I'm still in MI! What gives? Well, I keep finding recommended roads that need to be ridden--that's what gives! On one of my future circle tours, I'm going to try this as a ride-through. It would be great to do this in one long three-to-four day weekend
I have mentioned before about the isolation of the roads and expressed some concerns about Highway 2. Well, that was a waste of worry juice! I saw more cars on 2 than I've seen the entire time! Still, somewhat sparse, but at least I saw cars. I must say, I was happy to see "cagers." I enjoyed the company.
Arrived in Mackinaw City on a beautiful, clear early afternoon. Exiting US31 heading north, I could see the famed Mackinac Bridge, with it proud, tall arms/legs extending far into the sky. Golden Gate Bridge has NOTHING on the Mighty Mac, which is in fact, the longest suspension bridge in North American--if not the world (ok, I better check the world fact comment) . When I heard that one had a choice between riding the metal grating or the concrete slab in the right lane, I never gave crossing the bride another thought.
Stopped at the Mackinaw City visitor's center and spoke with a woman at the counter who not only gave me three free MI postcards, she also ordered me to be safe. She liked that I was circling the lake, but like many others, expressed her concern about doing so alone.
What I didn't mention to her and haven't mentioned here, is that my only real concern (not even the riding tops this...) is meeting strange men, particularly strange men that are bigger, stronger than me. And don't let it be two men or a group. Sorry, I'm just not comfortable being around people who can overpower me. And I don't expect other men to understand this because they will think only of themselves, knowing that they would never harm a woman. But other men do. The average man is stronger than I am, giving them a distinct physical advantage and I think about those things. I've heard too much, experienced too much, and at one time watched too much Lifetime TV --the purportedly station for women, you know the one where at least one woman has to be raped, imprisoned, tortured, etc. I said I used to watch it. TV for women--what a joke! How about let's teach woman how to be victims--sorry for the digression. Still, kidnapping and involuntary slavery are two of my personal nightmares.
So I travel with inanimate objects for protection. What I've never said is that every time I meet a male stranger, the first thing I do is size him up to see if I can take him down, which is unlikely or whether I can fight back enough that will make him call for his momma! I just note casually where all his sensitive body parts are in relationship to my feet and fists--how far I'd have to extend them to make perfect contact. I thought this about Norm and realized that all I had to do for him, was run a few blocks and Norm would drop from a massive coronary...Poor guy. Anyhow...
Highlights from Mackinaw City included some brief encounters: Two examples. Met a couple vacationing with their two teenage children. They were a true HD family. The mother rode one child on the back of her bike, the father road the other. They wore their HD loyalty to the hilt! Is there another company with such brand loyalty? I could imagine in a few years, the boys will be riding mom and dad on the backs of their motorcycles--or they'll be a four HD bike family. The husband told me that his wife would "love" to do the circle tour by herself. She only smiled so I don't really know if he'd like her to do it, or she would like to do it.
Next story: I was on the phone, watching my bike at a rest stop. A man came from the rest stop building and stopped near my bike. That's not unusual, I'm learning that my bike is a chuck magnet (male version of a "chick" magnet). But this chuck looked all of 100 years old! He was stooped with signs of osteoporosis or something like it...Another middle age man passed him and the oldest guy said something to him that made him also stand there staring at my gal-pal. I'm thinking perhaps they see something wrong with the bike or perhaps conspiring about how to steal it. I cut my daughter off in mid-sentence and tell her I have to go and foil some probably bike thieves.
I mosey up to the bike and the oldest man, in the kindest Mr. Rogers' voice, warmly asks if I "belong to that bike?" I answer affirmatively. And then what he says next makes my heart melt and I think I'm in love. He says, "well, young lady, that a very fine bike, you got, very nice..." He goes on to tell me that he'd just been "admiring it." He says, "tell me about it." Well, I know I'm rabid. I tell him more than he probably wanted to know. At the end, he looks at the middle age guy and says, "...She could sell these bike, she sure could." The middle age man agreed. He told me that he rides a bike too. A Vulcan. He was pleased to know that I had seem a Vulcan and knew a thimble full about the bike. Eventually he left and the elderly gent and I talked. He said regarding my trip, "why young lady, that's very nice, very adventurous...You must be having a fine time...Good for you..." I will confess. I love old people, always have. No matter their background, race, etc., nice old people remind me of my grandparents, particularly my grandfather, who just happened to be the greatest human being ever to walk the face of this earth. So this man was capturing my heart big time with his Mr. Rogers qualities. We said good bye. He got into his car started it up and then turned the car off. I thought, he probably wants to see me pull away. WRONG.
He got out of the car again and waited by the curb. An elderly woman who looked to be around his age was walking toward the car. He called to her, "Honey, I want you to meet this young lady." She' was a sure stand in for Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffin Show. She had the most welcoming smile. They took hands and he presented her to me. We exchanged greetings. He said, "tell her about your bike." So I gave a truncated retelling of the bike's history. The woman never stopped smiling. She thought the bike was "real pretty." Her husband said, "Now tell her about what you're doing and where you've come from." I told her. Her smiles continued with lots of head shaking and affirming looks. Finally she said, "that is so special, this will be something to remember...and you're doing it alone, you must be so proud." I just wanted to take these people home with me. This is why I'm glad I was practically raised by grandparents for I had four grandparents who were just like this, always saying great stuff to you and making you feel like you could walk on air. I know it is not true for all of us...but was for me. In only a few minutes, I was deeply touched by these two people. We wished each other safe travels. Again, I didn't get a pic, but in this case it's ok as I know I'll not forget them in the place where it counts most, my heart.
Well, yesterday's ride was wonderful. Please, please people, whether you ride a motorcycle or not, get in a car for heaven's sake, and do the LMCT. If for no other reason than to ride M119. Let me tell you something about that road. It is better than anything I've written about before. All that flack I said about Deal's Gap--my goodness, pales in comparison to this road. First, it is long. When it was over I stopped clinching my teeth and praying. Second, it is a narrow road with traffic coming and going, all sharing one narrow road--not a lot of traffic, mind you. There is just enough space for two cars to pass side-by-side. Believe me...There is not an inch of extra space. Third, there is no shoulder. The trees come right up to the very freaking edge of the road! Fourth the turns are tighter than spandex on a hootchie momma! And the curves are very squiggly and very sharp and very scary (mostly in a fun way, but I had some moments when I wanted it all to end but there is no turning around once you are on this road). Fifth, it went on and on. Sixth, unlike any other time, I had to watch for a lot all potential hazards at the same time. Oncoming cars and motorcyclists (more about them later), the swiftly changing angles of the road, trying to flick a loaded bike into the turns and all this with little space and time in between to regroup. Make one error and you must forget about it immediately for the next challenge is right ahead of you. When the end finally came (I should have measured the distance but I was in there for at least 30 minutes and the speed ranged from 35 mph to 50).
Here's what Murphy says about M119 in his book, Motorcycling Across Michigan, "Once beyond Harbor Springs M119 gets progressively better, until it turns into the 'Tunnel of Trees', as it is called. M119 is the only state highway where special rules apply. There is no shoulder and the trees are literally right on the edge of the pavement. There is also a sever shortage of any straight sections. Many of the curves are tight, so even though it is very tempting to go fast, try to show some semblance of restraint and keep your speeds reasonable for the road you're on. M119 runs along the crest of a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Unfortunately the land all along it is private, with many drives heading down the bluff to palatial secone homes. M119 is a blast to ride, to put it succinctly." [Emphasis, mine] This man is not lying! (Saw two hot rod crotch-rockets pass a line of cars with tme at the lead. They blasted through like...Well, rockets. They must have had some familiarity with these roads--can't imagine that any sane person would attempt those speeds otherwise. Apparently, they made it alright as we didn't pass any wipe-outs.
Mackinac Bridge: I felt confident crossing it because I'd accepted the fact that I would ride the concrete. Well, guess what?! The freaking concrete side was blocked off almost immediately after getting on the bridge. When I saw the sign to merge to the left lane, the lane of metal grating, I couldn't believe it. It's not that I can't or am afraid of these grating, I ride them in Chicago and it's fine. They are not fun and the wiggling is a bit annoying. Five miles of it on the Mighty Mac wasn't something that inspired me. All I wanted was the view. But I got the view and miles of wiggly too. After the initial freak out, I settled in and kept my throttle steady, head straight ahead and up (No, I didn't look down to see the water--one can have only so much fun before it turns into hedonism, and that just isn't right).
Found a comfortable hotel in Manistique, MI. Wanted to make it to Escabana but it was getting dark. Sunday I rode from 10ish in the morning until 8:30pm --of course lots of stops and touring in between. Can't believe I'm still in MI. The Upper Peninsula is cold! Highway 2 rocks really hard!
I'm way behind schedule and will try to make up some ground on Monday (I've been saying that for the last couple of days...) I want to get into WI and that should be relatively easy. Debating whether I should go to Door County before heading south home. If I don't, I'll miss some great sites that Murphy mentions, places like Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Sister Bay and Baileys Harbor to mention a few. Perhaps I'll let the weather and my funds determine my next course.
Still having a royal time...