Wednesday, June 8, 2011


No, not in the Upper Peninsula. For many residents of the state of Michigan it's just the part of the state that doesn't exist when someone asks you where you live and you point to a place on your's no wonder the Yoopers call us trolls.

The U.P. is a great destination for troll motorcyclists for many reasons. First, there's the bridge. Many consider crossing Big Mac (The Mackinac Bridge) a motorcycle bucket list item...and lore has it that only real men ride the grate. Heading west on US-2, after crossing the bridge, brings miles of beautiful state highway, marked by pine forests, sandy beaches, and sweeping views of Lake Michigan. US-2 slowly transitions from a lakeside highway to one that take a rider into the rolling hills of the western U.P. And, if hills are what you came for, the U.P. does not disappoint. Once you're on the western edge of the state, you can head back east through the Porcupine Mountains. If hills aren't your thing, maybe chasing waterfalls is, or scenic views of Lake Superior, or the craggy cliffs of Pictured Rocks, or the steep climb up Brockway Mountain Drive in Copper Harbor.

You could spend a full week touring the upper peninsula and not see half of what it has to offer...but that's not what I love most about riding up here. A day like yesterday is why I love riding into and around the U.P. A day when the ride through the lower peninsula feels like you're sitting at the gates of Hell. When it's so hot that you start wondering why you're riding at all...and then it happens. It's unpredictable. There's no official starting point or ending point. It might happen before the bridge, it might happen after. It's when the fires of Hell, that have been breathing on you all the way up I-75, are suddenly doused by a cold, stiff breeze. It's minute you're sweltering, and the next minute, literally the next minute, you're thinking you might need to pull over and put some long underwear on.

I rode up to Marquette today and experienced that magical temperature shift several times. The first was about 20 miles south of the bridge. I had been tooling along, watching my thermometer hold steady at about 98 degrees for well over 3 hours. Then, faster than you can say "Mackinac Bridge," the air temperature plummeted. It took 3 or 4 minutes for my dashboard to catch up, but when it did I was coasting along in about 80 degrees. The second dip happened about 5 miles from the bridge. Within just a few seconds it went from 80 degrees down to 70. Like I said before, you never know when this is going to happen. I've had rides where it happened about half way across the bridge. I've had rides where I was 10 or 15 minutes into the U.P. before it happened...but it almost always happens. The most chilling one today came as I approached Marquette. The temperature had climbed back up to 80 after I left Munising...then I drove around a curve in the road and the bottom dropped out...all the way down to 64, which is where it stayed until I got to the hotel.

The downside of traveling up here is time. Not counting the beauty of US-2 after crossing the bridge, it can take 8 to 10 hours of riding just to get to the "good stuff." From southern Michigan, it's just as fast, or faster, to ride to western Pennsylvania, or down to West Virginia, for mountain roads and sweeping vistas. But, the U.P. has a siren call, and it got me this year. :)

This picture, or a troll on the north side of the bridge, is from the spring of 2007.

Tomorrow is another day, and another road.


  1. I have "fond" memories of Brockway Mountain Drive. The black flies had a fiest when the family was in the UP in July 1972. I think that was the year. Only two of us got eaten alive.

  2. I wasn't a fan of riding the grate. But I was glad I wasn't alone when I rode on it.


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Chad Cole