Deciding to take advantage of some of my local surroundings, I went for an afternoon bike ride in my own area. Leelanau Co. offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the state of Michigan. Along with the scenery, there are good rural paved roads with lots of twisties everywhere! I started up through the rolling hills next to Lake Leelanau, dotted with numerous orchards of ripe apples just waiting to be picked. The county is rich with apple and cherry orchards and also very famous for their vineyards.
Going through the village of Suttons Bay reminded me that the entire state highway M-22 is designated a Scenic Highway. It starts just North of Manistee, MI and hugs the Lake Michigan shoreline all the way to the tip of the “Little Finger” of Michigan. Then it heads back south along the eastern edge of Grand Traverse Bay (West Bay) until it ends in Traverse City. I would say M-22 is as scenic as any road in the United States.
From Suttons Bay I head northwest, taking a back route to Leland. Leland is a port village on Lake Michigan. Fishing and, like the entire peninsula, tourism is huge. From Leland I head south towards the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lake Shore. This is part of the National Park System and includes areas around Glen Arbor, Glen Lake, Empire and Frankfort.
The American Indian Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes: “Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands (North and South Manitou) to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear.” - (NPS)
After taking in all the sites and leaving Empire, I decided to head back home along M-72 towards Traverse City. The road surface was marred with patch marks and gouges. Because of this, I didn’t get too excited when a couple of times the bike seemed a little squirrely. Then, half way between nowhere, it started to feel like it was squirming underneath me. WTH??? I started slowing down from 70 MPH and then I realized I had a firkin flat tire! I really didn’t have a clue what to do next…I called my insurance company (State Farm) and asked them if I had road service and they informed me they don’t even carry it for motorcycles…huh! (sheit)…now what. Since I work a rotating schedule, I was on days off during the middle of the week. Everyone I knew was at work or school….no one to call. I spied a farm up the road a bit and hobbled my bike there and asked the farmer if I could park it until I figured out how to get it home. Then I grabbed my stuff and headed back toward the highway. With my helmet in hand and in full gear, I start hitchhiking (something I haven’t done in 35 years!) in the 80 degree heat. It wasn’t long when a car with a single woman pulled up and asked me if I wanted to use her cell phone. I thanked her but said I had one. She then asked where I was heading I told her about 10 miles to Traverse City. She hesitated and said it was against her better judgment…hop in! I was shocked, but come to find out her fiancé was a biker and so gave me a ride. She took me right to my door and then I patiently waited for my son, who has my old pickup (I miss my pickup!), to get home from college. We then went and rescued my 9er!
All in all I had a great experience, learned a lot and met some kind people along the way. Thanks to all that stopped to help!
I’ll try to post picture…hopefully it works.
Pictures by tc919er - Photobucket
Leelanau Co. MC ride 091509 - Google Maps