Watch: What It’s Like To Ride A Motorcycle Over Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge
Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a 1000 mile motorcycle ride across Michigan. One of the destinations was a stop at White Fish Point in the UP on Lake Superior. To get there, I had to ride my Harley-Davidson across the Mackinaw Bridge.
I, for years, have had a recurring dream about bridges. In the dream, I drive across the bridge and at the apex, my vehicle turns into a log flume ride and I end up splashing into water. With that dream buried deep in my subconscious, driving across the Mighty Mac was going to be nerve wrecking. Throw in my apprehension of heights and this is a recipe for sweat. But, I decided not to be a scardey cat and conquer my fear!
I started out early in the day. The sun was shining and the skies were clear. No way was I gonna do this if it was raining. Before I approached the bridge, I made sure I had toll money in my pocket for easy accessibility. When the bike started to climb the bridge, my heart rate raised. I could feel every muscle in my body tighten. The higher I went, the windier it became. One Gail force gust and it could have gone poorly for me.
The bridge has 4 lanes. 2 heading north and 2 heading south. I chose the far right lane which is made of concrete. It should have been a smoother experience even with the outside lane closer to the water...er, 551 feet closer to the water. However, in both directions, the bridge was under construction. That meant that I had to change lanes and ride over metal grates. The construction began right at the pinnacle of the bridge. The highest part!
I certainly wasn't absorbing the breathtaking views. I was totally focused on making it across. I was advised not to look down through the grates either. No problem...I knew I'd be looking straight ahead. The anchorages on the bridge have brackets that hold the grates and anchorages together. It's like riding over a rigid speed bump. The bike wobbles over the grates. It felt like riding on ice. I had control but it wasn't the same as if riding across a smooth rode. I had to let instinct take over. The tires made a buzzing sound. I started talking to myself, 2 more miles...1 more mile...900 feet...500 feet...
After making it through the construction zone, I changed lanes from the metal grates back onto concrete. Whew! I passed the second anchorage and knew I was descending down the bridge. I could feel my heart rate slow and my body loosen. Deep breathe!
After paying my $4.00 toll, I happily headed farther north. I no longer had the urge to vomit and I felt pretty proud. I knew I could do it. After a few hours in the UP, it was time to head back south. I thought, "Oh Crap...I have to do that again?" I checked the weather. No rain. If I can do it once, I can do it again. And I did. It was a successful pass but next time...I'll take a car.
NEXT: Five Great Places to Ride Your Motorcyle in Michigan