Last Friday, my friend Erin and I packed up the car and headed up to Mackinaw City for the 29th Annual Zoo-De-Mackinac weekend while the guys enjoyed the houses to themselves for the weekend. The highlight of the event is a scenic 51 mile bike ride through the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. This was my first ever bike trip, and I haven’t been to Mackinaw since I was a little kid, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
We stayed in a hotel that was right on the beach and walking distance from a few restaurants and shops.
We never actually planned to carb load, but we found an Italian restaurant close to the hotel that actually happened to serve two of the things we both love: pesto pasta with vegetables for me and a style of pizza without cheese for her. Since it all happened to fall into place, we enjoyed a hot, carb-laden meal and got a mostly full night of sleep like the responsible adults we are.
After a quick breakfast and some coffee at the hotel, we boarded the shuttle and headed off to Boyne for the start of the ride. The weather was cold and rainy, which is pretty much par for the course on any Erin and Kristy adventure.
After arriving at the start and getting everything situated, we crossed the starting line and were ready to go. Naturally, that was when the rain and wind started to pick up.
The beginning of the course was filled with grassy, rolling hills, views of the Lake Michigan shoreline, and a steep, wooded road called the Tunnel of Trees. There were plenty of hills along the route, which added to the challenge of the ride, but the views were a pleasant distraction.
Mentally, the middle of the race was definitely the most difficult. We stopped for lunch just after Mile 25, and after all of the hills, rain, and cold, I was definitely hitting the wall and ready for a break. I was hoping to find something hot to eat or drink in town to serve as sort of a morale booster, but unfortunately everything that was easily accessible at the place where we stopped was cold.
After a brief moment of contemplating whether we actually wanted to keep going, we decided to tough it out. Both of us were still feeling pretty cold and soaked at this point, so I decided to put on an extra sock layer, Luke’s rain pants over my cycling capris to help block the wind from my legs, and Luke’s fleece gloves, which were big enough to fit over my cycling gloves.
With tired legs, cold faces, and soaking wet feet, we continued on for the second half of the course. We pedaled up hills and coasted down hills. We pedaled past beautiful log homes and tiny shacks. We pedaled through forests and along sandy coasts. The longer we rode, the more thankful I was that I had packed extra layers.
There were so many beautiful lookout points along the way that would have been spectacular to stop at for photos, but since it was pouring for almost the entire ride we only stopped once, at an aid station somewhere along the North Country Trail. I had contemplated bringing my camera along, but this time around, I was thankful that I left it at home.
It was definitely a hard slog through the second part of the course. The rain and wind picked up somewhere in the last 10-15 miles. We were tired. We were hungry. We were soaked. We were fantasizing about all of the hot coffee we were going to drink and the blankets we were going to crawl under after the ride was over.
When we reached the “5 Miles to Mackinaw” marker, I finally got my second wind. The road eventually took us to a cool bike trail that ran through a wooded area, and then into Mackinaw City near the bridge.
We crossed the finish line together. Despite the sub-50 temperatures, wind, and pouring rain, we made it the 51 miles to Mackinaw!
After heading back to our room to warm up, shower, and eat a few snacks, we went out for a cup of hot coffee and then took the ferry over to Mackinac Island to explore for a bit and enjoy the after party.
The skies had cleared up a bit by then, and the air felt a bit warmer, so it turned out to be a perfect night for hanging out on the island.
The downtown area of the island totally reminded us of our Greenfield Village days. A group of random people even stopped to ask us for directions!
Once it started to get dark we were feeling pretty hungry so we ducked into a bar for some burgers, fries and beers before heading over to the after party.
Naturally, the weather was beautiful and sunny the morning we had to head back home. We spent some time enjoying our coffee and some waffles on the balcony before packing up and heading over to the downtown area to do some last minute shopping at all of the local tourist traps.
We jammed to my newest playlist the whole way home, and just like that, my first ever bike trip was complete!
When I got home, Luke and Patronus greeted me at the door. I gave Patronus, Max, and Moritz each a hug and then enjoyed some of the treats I brought home with Luke while he showed me some of the projects he did around the house and we sat down to watch TV.