Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island. Heard of it? I have, and for years I’ve wanted to visit a place where there are no cars and where bicycles rule. I had a picture in my head of what the place was like – horses and buggies, lots of bicycles, a sort of throw back lifestyle. And while  the Tom Sawyer image of the town I had in mind was a lot more rustic looking than the reality, it turns out that the place really is magical.

To get there, one first must make one’s way north, almost to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. For us, that involved a 900+ mile journey. Once there, it was necessary to hop a ferry  to the island: a short, windy jaunt of perhaps twenty minutes or so.

The island isn’t large. The perimeter is a pancake flat 8.2 miles, departing from the pier in a charming town of lovely Victorian houses, stately mansions, restaurants and stores and B&Bs and parks; one traverses a paved road of hikers, horses and buggies, and bikes – lots and lots and lots of bikes. Leaving town and disappearing into a canopy of trees the route traces the coast with the lake always in view.

Mine was one of the only drop bar bikes on the island. In addition to my front bag, I sported an Acorn saddle bag with a long sleeve shirt tied down. Turned out I needed the long sleeves, with cold winds the first day and temps in the lower 50’s, the last thing I thought I’d need would be warm clothes in June! There are thousands of bikes for rent on the island, nearly all of which are “townies” and vintage Schwinn single speeds with upright bars.

I don’t like to leave my bikes outside overnight, so we brought our rides indoors. With little extra space in our room at the B&B, we stored the bikes in the shower.

Here are a few shots of the place…

By the way, there’s plenty of steep, slick climbs on the roads that crisscross the interior of the island.


2 thoughts on “Mackinac Island

  1. zac says:

    Im just a guy who likes touring bicycles and Japanese 80s era classic bicycles and ran into your pics and I like your pictures and your settings. You have some talent with that camera I suspect. Anyway thank you for the site, nice little collection of pretty places. This one looks like a great little place to take a loved one.

    • Zach, you pretty much nail it by describing Mackinac Island as “a great little place to take a loved one.” There are places where one takes a step or three back in time, and this is one of them. There’s a real sense of sophistication and gentleness, I feel; things purposefully move at a much slower pace – which is part of the reason that the huge population of bicycles fits into the culture so well. And, of course, the bicycle is largely responsible for that culture. I found it a great location to explore by bicycle but it’s small and an active cyclist would have no problem doing as I did and crisscrossing the island by bike in an afternoon. I can see this location being a memorable stop as part of a much longer tour across the Upper Peninsula. The UP seems to be a natural for touring along the lake, and it’s quiet and quite beautiful.

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