One Thousand Miles, 19 Hours, and a Motorcycle

August 6, 2018

Eight riders started at 4AM Eastern, from Willowick, OH, rode to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, turned around, and rode back to Willowick. One thousand seventy-three miles in 19 hours.

We completed an Iron Butt ride!


Clicking on the picture will open an interactive map, where you can zoom in, see some pictures, and read some ride statistics.

Some thoughts about riding (or attempting to ride) 1000 miles in 24 hours. In no particular order.

  • 4AM is damn early. Be sure to get to bed early. It may help to have a couple of beers, a bourbon, to help you get to sleep. But don’t drink too much, you have to get up early and you don’t need a hangover.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. At every stop, I drank water and/or fruit juice to keep my fluid levels up. Saturday was a hot day and it required continual fluid intake. The night prior to leaving, open some water bottles and drain some water from them. Then, put them in the freezer. You will have some rock solid bottles of water that you can put in a small cooler. They will slowly melt as you ride and  provide you with ice cold water for the entire trip. They also double as ice to keep fruit cool.
  • Keep snacking. There isn’t time, nor do you want to, to have a meal of any size. Fruit, granola bars, nuts, energy gels, maybe some jerky, are quick snacks. The linked energy gels do not require liquids to wash them down. However, some of them taste pretty bad. Regardless, I think they helped and it doesn’t take long to ingest 2 ounces of gel.
  • Invest in a pair of bicycling shorts (these are shown inside out, so that you can see the padding, you will NOT look like a baboon when wearing them). The extra padding will go a long way to make your ride more comfortable. However, with them under your pants or armored riding pants, you may find that you walk like you’ve got a full diaper. It’s worth the extra padding.
  • Know how far you can travel on a tank of gas. In my testing, I was able to get 42 miles per gallon. However, the actual ride was moving at a quicker pace than 69-72 miles per hour because the speed limits were higher in Michigan. I-75 ranges from 70-75 mph in some areas. Because of that, my fuel economy dropped to 33-36 miles per gallon (I do not have stock pipes on my bike, which makes a big difference in fuel consumption at higher speeds). Because of this, I was the rider with the shortest range. Plan your gas stops for the person with the shortest  range. In this case, it would be me. The ride leader adjusted two stops because there was no way I would make the planned stops.
  • This wasn’t my ride, so I followed. As the person with the shortest range, we could have changed the gas stops. That didn’t happen, the ride leader simply tacked on an additional stop. If it were me, I would have adjusted as we rode. Sure, that part of the planning would have gone out the window, but our stops would have been consistently 120-130 miles apart. As it was, one stop was only 60 miles from the previous stop. That cost us 40 minutes (we stopped at the same gas stations twice, going up to Sault Ste. Marie and back). It’s a small thing, but I was personally responsible for the additional stop and I didn’t like that feeling. I’m grateful for an additional 40 minute break, though.
  • If you are worried about range, you may want to consider a jerry can. However, the additional weight may reduce your range, too.
  • While the weather did not show rain along the route, I still packed my rain gear. As it was, we missed some early morning rain in the Cleveland area. It didn’t rain at all along the route. Still, I was prepared.
  • Speaking of packing, pack as light as possible. The less you have, the less you need to track.
  • I rode in a full face helmet with a Sena 10S as my travelling companion. Through it, I can listen to music, hear Waze give me directions, and, if there are others in your group with Bluetooth headsets, the ability to talk to them. It worked, as always, exceptionally well. However, a charge will only last about 16-17 hours. Which meant that the last 90 miles or so, I was travelling in silence. I did bring the charging cable, but with only 20 minute stops, there wasn’t enough time to get a proper charge. Not sure how to remedy this situation, since the Sena doesn’t have extra battery packs or fast chargers.
  • If you are starting out early, and your start point is not within 15-20 minutes of your home, I highly recommend that you get a hotel room. First, you won’t have to ride any sort of distance to get started. This means a few more minutes of precious sleep. Next, and most important, after you return, your bed is only a short ride away. I cannot stress enough how tired you will be at the finish. The thought of riding more than 20 minutes, at least to me, was depressing. Thankfully, the hotel I booked was about 3 minutes from the staging area. I was in the room, showered, and watching a little television before some of the riders were home. Also, during the last segment, all I found myself thinking was “how soon can I get in bed?” Not exactly the smartest thought, but knowing that the final ride of the day was only a mile, at worse, from the staging area, really made me feel good.
  • The Iron Butt Association (IBA) allows the use of Spotwalla for tracking your ride. This was the first time I used the app and I do like it. It may replace EatSleepRide as my preferred riding app. That said, before embarking on a 1000 mile ride, download the Spotwalla app, create an account on the Spotwalla site, configure the app, and then use it to track your ride. As you are using it, remember to post pictures and comments on your ride. When done, you can submit your Spotwalla trip, along with all of the paperwork, to IBA.
  • The use of Spotwalla also allows for the sharing of your ride with anyone and everyone. At a glance, your significant other, parents, friends, can see where you are, where you’ve been. Not only does this make the ride more inclusive, your significant other/parents/friends are aware that you are still moving or at a gas stop, reducing the anxiety of the ride for everyone.
  • Spotwalla seemed to get people to text me at points in the route. I cannot overstate the boost I got from people texting me their good wishes, their recommendations for sights to see at specific stops (sorry, no time for sightseeing), and general snarky comments. Keeping it light and funny made the time on the bike seem to go faster. Thank you for your text messages.
  • Speaking of IBA, our ride leader is an IBA member. That means easier paperwork for the other riders. It’s like he is a sponsor. When we completed the ride, we each provided him with three gas receipts; start, midpoint, end, along with the mileage written on the receipts. He is responsible for submitting our ride to IBA. It really was easy. If you are not riding with an IBA member, pay close attention to the guidelines. Since we were all starting from Cleveland, our route choices were limited to east, west, and south. I’d highly recommend that you plan a route for every direction, so that you have a chance to miss bad weather come ride day.
  • Put all of your receipts in an envelope and keep the envelope in the same place. This reduces or eliminates hunting for the envelope when you need it at every gas stop.
  • It may seem stupid to mention, however once you’ve decided on your route and gas stops, it doesn’t hurt to call the gas stations. You want to make sure that they are open 24 hours, have more than 4 pumps, and allow the use of credit/debit cards at the pumps. If you have to run into the shop to pay or to get your receipt, you are losing precious time that could have been used to eat or drink something. Or to use the bathroom.
  • We limited our gas stops to 20 minutes. That is just enough time to get gas, get your receipt and take a photo of the receipt with your odometer reading, eat and drink something, and to use the bathroom. There wasn’t any time for much more. Remember, you can ride 1000 miles in about 16-1/2 hours at 60 mph. Add in 8 gas stops at 20 minutes, you are now at 19 hours.
  • When I ride by myself, 20 minute gas stops and no lunch or dinner is my preferred method of riding. This ride fit my style of riding but at much greater distances.
  • There could be time for a proper lunch or dinner. While that is an enticing thought, don’t do it. You will get tired as your body digests a large meal. You will also need to stop for additional bathroom breaks. As I said above, just keep snacking. I didn’t get hungry or tired (I was tired, but it was from riding, not eating).
  • Do a full check of your bike before leaving; pads, fluids, tires, cables, lights, everything. You don’t need a mechanical problem out on the road. And you most certainly don’t need to ride on tires that need replacing.
  • This is not an easy ride and can be dangerous. In most cases you will be riding highways with cars and trucks. Even at 4AM in Cleveland, with extremely light traffic, I saw some pretty stupid drivers. We rode Michigan; deer are an ever present danger. More than any other ride, you have to keep awake and alert. In our case, we started in the dark and ended in the dark. Do not ride faster than your headlights can illuminate. In the light of day, you can see the idiots better, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t relax.
  • As they say, there is safety in numbers. Riding in a group helped a lot with safety and visibility. It may have also helped that, as tail gunner, I was wearing a high visibility, military spec vest. One, the leader could easily see me at the back of the group. Next, riding in the dark, I stood out like a beacon. Finally, it has an ID pocket. You know what fits in it? My EZ-Pass. Going through toll booths was a breeze (just make sure that you orient it properly before starting out). While I did have to wait for the others to pay their tolls, if everyone in our group had an EZ-Pass, we could have saved several minutes at each toll booth.
  • If riding in a group, do not skip the safety meeting prior to starting. Go over staggered riding, hand signals, a reminder of the route to the first gas stop. The leader should also tell the group the expected speed at which the group will travel depending on road conditions, weather, traffic. If you experience toll booths, the procedure for moving through them.
  • Do not allow yourself to get cold. Leaving Cleveland at 4AM, it was a bit chilly. I didn’t ask the other riders, but as I always ride in armor, I was pleasantly cool. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is markedly cool than the mitten. Wear layers, stay warm. If you’re cold, you’ll burn more calories which makes you tired. Especially at the start and end of your ride. Don’t look only at the high temperatures for the day you riding, look at the low’s, too.
  • Ride with someone you’ve ridden with and trust. I was fortunate to have two people on the ride with whom I’ve ridden many times. Not only are you engaging in friendly, pointed banter at the stops, which makes the ride more fun, you are riding with people that know you. They knew when I was tired, even though I didn’t say anything. They knew when it didn’t look like I was having fun and did their best to change my attitude. And we all had someone we could lean on at the most trying points of the ride. In short, we relied on each other to push through the hard parts and finish the ride. Also, when you broach the subject of “1000 miles in 24 hours” with your significant other, knowing that you will be riding with people that she knows and trusts, goes a long way toward acceptance of the insane thing you have in mind. “I may not like, but at least he’ll be riding with Aaron and Harvey. I know they’ll keep an eye on him.”
  • Most important: The IBA checks mileage reports based on Google Maps. Because odometers and speedometers are notoriously wrong on motorcycles, be sure to map your ride using Google Maps to confirm the distance. For example, when we finished, odometer readings ranged from 1,023 to 1,074 miles. Google Maps is the one, true measure of distance traveled.

This is a tough ride. The worse part for me was the start time. Frankly, I didn’t think I would be able to finish the ride, as I was pretty tired from lack of sleep. But, when we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, I was feeling great and ready for the ride back home. I don’t know if I qualify it as “fun,” but I can say when we finished, I felt that I had really accomplished something. Hopefully, the points above are helpful.

Ride safe.

 


One Thousand Miles, 24 Hours, and a Motorcycle

August 2, 2018

The year after I bought my bike, I discovered the Iron Butt Association. It’s members have completed a 1,000 mile motorcycle ride in 24 hours. I knew then that I wanted to do that ride and I added it to my Bucket List of motorcycle rides.

Last year, watching Paul Mooney complete the ride, gave me the impetus I needed to actually attempt the ride. I talked with several other riders until one stepped up and said “Let’s do it,”

Now is my chance.

On Saturday, 4 August, at 4AM Eastern, I will be riding 1000 miles in 24 hours with 9 other riders. We will be leaving Willowick, OH, riding to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, turning around, and riding back to Willowick. And we’re doing it for a charity.

Starting at 3:30AM Eastern, you can track the progress of the ride by clicking here. The link is updated roughly every 5 minutes or so. It’s near real time. Thankfully, I have a phone charger on my bike, so I won’t worry about losing battery power.

If you’d like to contribute to the charity, all of the information can be found on the GoFundMe site.

Paul was extremely honest and helpful when I asked for his advice. So, I am very well prepared. Last Sunday I rode 150 miles (plus a little more) on the Ohio Turnpike to know, exactly, how far I can go on one tank of gas. That was a 300+ mile ride. Amazon has been delivering packages with items that should make the ride more comfortable, my stops more effective, my body more prepared.

I’m am really looking forward to this ride. Click the ride link, above, and come along with us. And, there will be Monkey and Donkey pictures along the way. They will, as always, ride with me.


Breakfast with Monkey

January 17, 2017

I forgot to add one other anecdote concerning the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, which culminated on Day Five.

Throughout the adventure, Monkey was with me. In fact, most of the pictures I took, Monkey was in them. Like this one:

whitefish_1

I think it was during a meal break, probably Day Three, when my co-adventurers wanted to know why Monkey gets to look at all of the sights but never gets to eat.

It was a good question. I think the answer is “I forget to bring him into the restaurant.”

Day Five, we’ve just loaded up the bikes for the ride home. A quick look at Google Maps pointed me to a local breakfast restaurant (it was very good, a bit pricey, but very good). After we arrived, I remembered that Monkey could use breakfast, too. After all, he’d been with us the entire time and had yet to eat.

I brought Monkey into the restaurant and propped him up on the table with us.

As the waitress was taking our orders, I jokingly ordered an orange juice for our stuffed friend.

It wasn’t taken as joke.

breakfast_monkey

And it wasn’t free, either.

Which was fine, because our little mascot was very thirsty!

I wonder if he can order off of the “Children’s Menu?”


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Five

January 13, 2017

Here it is, the last day on the tour. We aren’t exactly happy when we mount up in the morning, knowing that this will be the last day we ride on the Circle Tour. After five days, and talking about just saying “Eff it, let’s keep riding,” we head south and east. Not a lot of things to report, as it is all highway as we head home.

Day Five:

day5

See? All highway. While we were rocking the Ohio Turnpike at 70+ mph, it was still awful boring. Thanks to my bluetooth headset, at least I have some music to lessen the boredom.

Total miles: 337

After switching the bike off, one last picture to remind me of the trip:

odometer

Five days seems like a lot, but trust me, the trip was too short. We decided that in 2017, we are going back to the Upper Peninsula. This time, since we’ve ridden some amazing roads on the way to the UP, we’re going to ride I-75 north, to minimize travel time, and spend more time exploring the east, central, and western parts of the UP. Perhaps make Newberry, MI, the base town for exploration of the central and eastern areas. Then, find a town in the western part, and explore that area. There’s so much to see and do, this seems to be the best method to properly ride the UP.

What We Learned:

  1. Gas stations, and towns, are few and far between. Be smart, gas up when the opportunity arises. Or, even smarter, map out the gas stations along your route.
  2. The Upper Peninsula has spectacular sights and vistas. Once you’re here, you’ll want to spend more time exploring than you’ve budgeted. A return trip is most certainly in your future plans.
  3. To go with the gas stations point, above, there are long distances between the places you want to visit. I hope you have a comfortable saddle. If not, spend the money. Your ass will thank you. Also, you may want to do some longer trips to prepare yourself.
  4. Gas stations are few and far between.
  5. Just because your GPS or Google Maps tells you that there is a town just up the road, there may not be a gas station. Small towns are norm in the UP.
  6. Don’t count on your GPS, Google Maps, or having cellular coverage in all areas of the UP. Bring an actual map with you.
  7. Everyone we met, with the exception of a few (Newberry hotel operator, customers in a bar in Iron Mountain) were gracious and happy to talk to us, happy to provide directions, and very happy to recommend dining options. You’ll make some new friends in the UP.
  8. If you’re looking for souvenirs, like patches, pins, and stickers, the small stores that you see along your route is where you’ll find them. As a bonus, you’ll be supporting local businesses. And, the staff is used to seeing and interacting with bikers.
  9. The SS Badger is an excellent, relaxing way to avoid Chicago traffic. Remember to bring your tie downs. And since it is a part of US 10, it “could” count into your mileage. We didn’t count it, but you could. 🙂
  10. We averaged 377 miles a day.
  11. Gasoline averaged $2.48/gallon.

endofearth

Links:

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations and Day One

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Two

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

Bonus Link:

As it happens, RoadRunner magazine has an article on riding the Upper Peninsula. Take a look for more professional photographs (no monkeys) and text.

RoadRunner Magazine – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Northern Exposure


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

January 13, 2017

The sadness begins, as we know that we are heading home, the Upper Peninsula already a (great) memory. We now have a destination that does not wait for those that are tardy, a ferry crossing of Lake Michigan, so that we do not have to ride through Chicago and all that entails when you are on two wheels.

Day Four:

day4

As you can see from the route, it isn’t all that spectacular. However, we did make one memorable stop, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.

lambeau1

lambeau2

Monkey does the “Lambeau Leap.” I laugh every time I watch this video.

monkey_girlfriend

Monkey found himself a girlfriend.

A quick look at the time and all shenanigans ceased; we have a ferry to catch. Off to Manitowoc, WI, for the boat ride across Lake Michigan.

The SS Badger

This is a proper ferry, not like the ones that take you to Kelleys Island or Put-in-Bay.

We made it with about 40 minutes to spare. Motorcycles park in a special queue, as they will be among the first to get on the ship. Do not forget your tie downs, they do not supply them for you. After securing our bikes, we had 4-1/2 hours to eat, explore the ship, and simply relax before it arrives in Ludington, MI. The ship is actually a part of Route 10, which is really cool.  Also, it’s a 72 mile ride across the lake. Much like cruise ships, this one has a cafeteria, a movie theater, a cruise director (who runs the games and other entertainment), and, if you want an upgrade, private cabins. We opted to find our comfort where ever we could (cheaper). Not quite to midway, we all agreed that while this was a wonderful method of travel, we would’ve preferred to be on our bikes. Basically, it meant “nap time.”

ssbadger1

 

ssbadger2

Where I had to go to get this picture, it nearly cost me getting the bike on the ship. Much to the amusement of my biker “friends.”

ssbadger3

CJ relaxes on deck.

Once we off loaded in Ludington, we headed south for our last overnight stay in Michigan, in Muskegon. Once we unloaded our bikes, we went in search of dinner. As it happened, this was the first meal we would have at a chain restaurant. All of our other meals were eaten at local establishments. Without my knowledge and much to my chagrin, Doug told our waitress that it was my birthday. After finishing our meals, here comes the waitress, dragging what is best described as a saddle mounted to a saw horse. They coerced me into sitting on the damn thing, placed a cowboy hat on my head, announced to the restaurant that it was my birthday, and proceeded to regale me with the “Happy Birthday Song.” Much to my “friend’s” delight and amusement, I was totally embarrassed.

And that’s another reason why I travel with bourbon in my luggage.

Total miles: 261

 


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations

January 11, 2017

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a few months. Okay, it’s been five months. Specifically, since the last week of August, 2016. Better late than never. This will be the first in a series concerning an excellent ride (mostly) around Lake Michigan.

The riders:

theteam-michigan

(left to right, me (with Monkey), CJ, and Doug)

The tools:

  • EatSleepRide – Probably the premier, free, motorcycle GPS app. Recorded progress, share location with others (like those watching our progress from afar), also has CrashLight, which will text someone, or 911, if your mobile phone detects that the bike has crashed.
  • Waze – Route GPS, updated by the crowd, provided best routes, police locations, and more.
  • Google Maps – When Waze wasn’t doing a very good job. It’s always good to have a backup GPS.
  • The Weather Channel App – You’re on a motorcycle, you need to know the weather.
  • Sena 10S Bluetooth Headset – Handsfree, motorcycle helmet bluetooth headset. Allowed me to follow along with Waze’s directions as well as listen to music. First time using a headset, now I can’t imagine travelling without one. Easy installation, easy setup, paired quickly with my iPhone.

Preparation:

This was not an Arctic Circle run and we wanted to be as flexible with our time as possible. We roughed out the route, the stops, and the deadlines (ferry’s do not wait for those that are tardy). Plus, we didn’t want to be beholden to specific overnight stops. Thus, we spent all of three hours planning the tour. At first, we were simply to circle Lake Michigan. But after our first, and only meeting, we all read more about the tour and were sidetracked by what we read about the southern shore of Lake Superior. From that, we knew that we really wanted to see Copper Harbor, Michigan. In the end, the plan was to ride the western shore of Lake Michigan, until we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. At that point, we would head northwest to the southern shore of Lake Superior and ride that to Copper Harbor. We made no reservations at any hotel, we were going to ride until we decided it was time to locate suitable overnight accommodations.

In addition to the above, we spent a lot of time on the website, Lake Michigan Circle Tour. A great resource for the route as well as things to see and do along the route. Finally, I bought and brought along three additional items. Weather proof maps of Michigan and Wisconsin (again, on a motorcycle, you need backups and items that can be subjected to water) and the book, Ride Michigan. The book was extremely useful to determine what would could see and the best motorcycle routes to take along the way.

Day One:

mi_day1

We met at Cracker Barrel, in Sheffield, OH, for breakfast. Afterwards, we rode the turnpike into Indiana, then turned north into Michigan, Sturgis, MI, specifically, for lunch. If you ask yourself “why Sturgis?” then you aren’t a biker in the United States.

sturgismi

This turned out to be a most fortuitous stop. Using Google Maps, I found a highly rated, local restaurant, Boundary Waters Kitchen and Bar. We just happened to parked out bikes in front of a barber shop. Since three bikes can cause an auditory commotion in a tight area, the owner of the barber shop came out and greeted us. As it turns out, he is biker and had just returned from a trip to the Upper Peninsula. And he had photos, real photos, in a book, to show us. We had a great time talking to him and he provided us with a lot of excellent tips and places we needed to stop and see.

During lunch, he came into the restaurant with a list of things we should see. That was really cool.

A little ways outside of Sturgis, it started to rain. A very light rain. We didn’t stop to gear up, just rode through it.

Then we hit the east coast of Lake Michigan and turned our bikes north. We stopped for gas, and rest, but didn’t stop to see anything, as we were headed to Ludington, MI for our first overnight stop. Rode into town, hit Lake Michigan, and, as luck would have it, a hotel on Lake Michigan had room for us. Ludington is also the town where you can catch the ferry across Lake Michigan. We’ll see Ludington again in a few days.

Total miles: 405

 


Four Days and 1169 Miles

June 6, 2016

The 2016 riding season started a while ago, however I really kicked it off 2-5 June with a 1169 mile journey through Michigan. There was a STAR Touring and Riding event at Boyne Mountain Resort in Michigan which was the focal point of the ride.

Geoff and I met in Avon Lake, over breakfast, on 2 June to begin the ride which would end in Grand Rapids, MI. My sole reason to choosing this destination was to visit Devin Olson on the eve of his daughter’s high school graduation party. Of course, knowing that Devin lives in The Beer Capital was just a happy coincidence.

Because we had deadlines in Grand Rapids, we took the boring but highway method of reaching our destination. There is nothing quite like arriving on Devin’s doorstep on motorcycles; his welcome was probably one of the best I have ever received. A (rare) beer for me, a (rarer) bourbon for Geoff, and plans made to meet up later in the evening. Devin guided us to our hotel and provided an excellent dinner location in town then left us to our own devices. Used Uber to get us to dinner. Once done with dinner, we walked to The B.O.B and to Founder’s, where Devin met up with us. From there, it was Uber back to the hotel.

Friday started rather early, as we planned to ride the west coast of Michigan. We stopped at a rest area on 31, just south of Ludington to stretch. It was here that we discovered that there was an overlook. Took a very nice road to the top of the hill in order to discover . . . an overlook that overlooked tree tops. I think the word was “disappointing.” From there, we continued on 31 until we got to M-22. While on M-22, we discovered another overlook, this one was spectacular! Incredible views of Lake Michigan and coast line. Continued up M-22 and took it north into Frankfort, where took M-115 and linked up with 31 again. Then it was off to Traverse City, one of my favorite Michigan destinations. A very nice ride along the southern shore of Grand Traverse Bay.

Rode past the (now closed) Bravo Zulu Brewing Company. While it was sad to see, I was wearing my Bravo Zulu t-shirt that day, in honor of an excellent brewery. Arrived at Boyne Mountain Resort at about 5PM to register for the STAR event. Thankfully, one of the hosting Chapters opened registration for us so that we could participate in the bike parade to Boyne City (they had closed registration early). The parade, while short, was a lot of fun as it was escorted by the Boyne City Police Department and the Sheriff. They blocked off an entire city block for us, so that we had ample bike parking. Then, the local Chamber of Commerce passed out flyers with food and shopping discounts specially for us. That was a welcome surprise. After dinner, Geoff and I rode along Lake Charlevoix for picture opportunities. Then, after a 250+ mile day, it was back to the resort for some very welcome bourbon around a fire pit with other STAR members.

Saturday, the STAR Event organizers had an 85 mile route planned for the group. Well, the route, while nice, didn’t include Tunnel of Trees nor the Mackinac Bridge, both of which we really wanted to ride. Michigan STAR members provided us with the reasons they didn’t plan this ride; Tunnel of Trees can be very tricky, as the road is less than 2 lanes, there may be gravel on the road and in the curves, sand on the surface, and very limited sight line. As for Big Mac, the weather plays a very important role in the ride and if there is construction on the bridge, you may end up riding the grated surface for the entire length of the bridge. With that in mind, Geoff, Ted, and I took off to points further north.

Tunnel of Trees.

It was everything the brochures said it was. And more. Beautiful, twisty, and an absolute blast to ride. The “sandy” portions of the road were under construction, so we didn’t go down the lake shore. That was fine with us, the detour was many miles out of the way. The sight lines were, at times, extremely limited, but, as I was leading the ride, I made it work to Geoff’s and Ted’s advantage. Basically, I rode the middle the of the road and only moved over when there was traffic coming in the opposite direction. In this way, I provided Geoff and Ted with advance warning of oncoming traffic. Some parts of the road were 45 mph, but I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone actually going 45 (see “limited sight lines” and “narrow road way”). In addition to the occasional car, we saw a plethora of bikes. This is truly a Michigan “Bucket List” ride.

Mackinac Bridge.

How can you top Tunnel of Trees? Easy, continue north and ride the five miles that are “Big Mac.” The day was overcast and windy. We left I-75 before the bridge to talk to someone in the Michigan Welcome Center in Mackinaw City. Since all alerts concerning the bridge are on the radio, and I do not have a radio on my bike, I wanted to know the conditions on the bridge. Any construction? Wind advisories? The helpful staff in the Welcome Center assured us that everything was fine on the bridge. Off we went. While there were no wind advisories, on a motorcycle, it was fun handling the bike in a cross wind. Truly. And, since there was no construction, we rode the paved lane all the way to St. Ignace. That was a pleasant surprise. Stopped in St. Ignace for a Mackinac Bridge patch and pin. Then, rode to an overlook for some picture taking of the bridge. Then, because of an electrical issue with Ted’s bike, we headed back over the bridge. Unfortunately, because of the issue, we cut short our Upper Peninsula ride. We were planning to ride to Sault Ste. Marie and, depending on the time, Whitefish Point. Just have to add those to my bike “Bucket List,” even though I have visited them in the past. There was nothing of importance on the ride back to Boyne Mountain Resort.

Sunday, we missed all of the terrific storms that passed through Michigan and Ohio. However, before stopping for breakfast in Standish, MI, we did don our rain gear as we did encounter some rain, but not of the biblical proportions that were forecasted. We only rode through light rain in some areas, but it was nice to be dry. Plus, as the air temperatures were in the mid to high 60’s, we didn’t sweat in our gear. That is a very nice bonus.

Geoff and I stopped in Sandusky, OH, to see if there was anything that remained of Ohio Bike Week but were greeted with downed trees and power lines, closed roads, and, above all else, the unmistakable smell of beer.

Michigan, on a motorcycle, in a nutshell:

  1. The roads suck. Do they collect potholes, do they not know about asphalt? And when they do have money for asphalt, the job that is done on the road makes it worse. How is that possible?
  2. The drivers are assholes. Apparently, as a biker, you are responsible for every facet of traffic as we were invisible to pretty much everyone. I think that only in Michigan are turn signals optional equipment on every vehicle and most drivers decided that they wouldn’t spring the extra cash for them. Tailgating motorcycles seems to be a sport. I don’t get it, but I thought I was going to get an engagement ring from several drivers, they were so close to my ass. I also came to the realization that no where else are “speed limits” more of a “suggestion” than in Michigan. If we wanted to keep up with traffic, we would have to travel at 80+ mph on the highways. Pretty much every where. While that isn’t really a problem, see Number 1, above.
  3. On and off ramps, that are maybe 100 feet in some cases. How is this a thing? Merging traffic doesn’t give a damn about oncoming traffic and oncoming traffic doesn’t give a damn about merging traffic. This made for some really “interesting” interactions between all motorists. Oh, and once they do merge, they will stop at nothing to get into the left most lane and accelerate to maximum cruising speed. To hell with everyone and anything around them.

That said, I’ll be back. There’s too much good stuff to see and do in Michigan to let drivers and roads keep me from visiting again on my bike.

Here’s the route:

MI_2016

And here is what I saw when I finally turned the bike off in Ohio:

odometer