Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 2 – From Little Bay de Noc to Leelanau

Route: From Little Bay de Noc (Hiawatha National Forest, MI) to Leelanau (State Park, MI), 290 miles

The highlight of this day was crossing Straits of Mackinac. The Mackinac Bridge is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world – 5 miles long, 200 feet above water level. The bridge is magnificent. However, when you travel on a bike, you hope to avoid the high wind conditions that happen here often. Mackinac Bridge authority reports wind speed on two radio stations and issues warnings that sound like this:

Currently we are experiencing winds of sufficient force in the Straits area to issue a warning to all motorists preparing to cross the Mackinac Bridge.
Examples of vehicles which are especially vulnerable to high winds are pickup trucks with campers, motor homes, vehicles pulling trailers and enclosed semi-truck trailers. Motorists are instructed to reduce their speed to a maximum of 20 miles per hour, turn on their four way flashers, and utilize the outside lane. Motorists are asked to exercise appropriate caution.
The Mackinac Bridge Authority is monitoring wind speeds at various points along the structure. Additional steps will be implemented if conditions change. If you are planning to travel to the Straits area, please tune to AM radio 530 or 1610 for updates.

The warning mentions vehicles weighing several tons. My bike weights less than 700 lb with me and the luggage. There are even two accounts of the cars being blown off the bridge.

With all this useful information in my head, I approached the bridge with more than just curiosity. But I was lucky. The day was beautiful. No wind at all. The previous 120 miles on Hwy 2 were very relaxing. Practically all roads in Michigan along my route were as smooth as glass. When you travel on a scooter with 13” tires and swingarm mounted engine, you really appreciate good roads.

The crossing itself was uneventful. There were a fair number of cars and they were moving not faster than 35 m/h.

In my planning, I tried to stay as close to the shore line as possible. It worked out ok most of the time. But several roads turned out to be either gravel or dirt roads, and I had to adjust my GPS to avoid them.

But the biggest surprise of this day was waiting for me south of Cross Village. MI 119 between Cross Village and Harbor Springs is considered to be one of Michigan’s most spectacular rides. The road is narrow, hilly, and winding. In some places the foliage from trees on either side of the road meets high over the middle of the road where it forms a canopy that barely allows any daylight.

I stopped for lunch somewhere between Middle Village and Harbor Springs and quickly found myself talking to another rider. The guy was from Detroit. Riding Harley-Davidson of course. In general, I noticed that riders prefer two bikes for touring – HD Electra Glide and Honda Goldwing. Somehow the idea of touring on a scooter hasn’t caught up yet.

The second half of the day was so hot, that I decided to skip Old Mission Lighthouse and headed strait to the camp.

No comments: