I rode the tunnel of trees, South to North, along 119 just north of Harbor Springs, Michigan last year for the first time.
I’ve driven the route before, long ago when I was just a kid and the day after I bought my first road bike I was looking forward to cycling that track.
For a couple of years I was trying to figure out how I could get up there. When I signed up for DALMAC, with my wife’s blessing, I had no idea that I was going to be able to cross that ride off of my bucket list after only two years of longing.
I found out several weeks after I’d signed up that part of the DALMAC west route includes 119 and I was absolutely fired up. We would reach the Tunnel of Trees on the final leg of the four day, 385 mile tour.
I’d hit a pothole the size of Delaware just a few miles before the smooth lead into Harbor Springs, bad enough that I’d busted the bottle cage that was holding my tool kit to my saddle. I knew I was going to have to stop at the local shop…
The repair took quite a while and the main group we were with pressed on up the road to lunch. Only my friends, Mike, Phill and Matt stayed back to help get me back to the group. If you ever want to know how good your friends are, this is the test. I still get a little emotional thinking about it. That’s as good as it gets…
At the time I didn’t know why they were working so hard to get me back… I was pretty busy snapping pictures.
We were making some serious time, between 21 & 24 mph. Matt waved us on, choosing to sit up and enjoy the sights at a more reasonable pace. We stayed on the gas.
Shortly after taking this photo we pulled into the lunch stop. I fired down a burger (my God was it good) and a Coke, topped off a bottle cage and we were off. Over the next ten to fifteen miles there were no photos. The pace was kicked up to awesome at 24 to 28 mph and I was simply concentrating on keeping the wheel in front of me while taking a quick second to look around now and again. Stunning is a good word but it doesn’t do the scenery justice.
With just 15 miles to Mackinaw City, our goal, I hollered up to the lead and asked them to dial it back for a minute…
I caught back on and put my phone away. We hammered the next fourteen miles out. The roads were okay, a little rough in sections, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful and makes up for a bump or two. Truthfully, we rode this too fast. I love fast but some roads are meant to be enjoyed and admired at a more leisurely pace. This is one. If you find yourself in Northern Michigan in the summer time, do not miss the opportunity to ride the shoreline up 119.
I wrote earlier that Mike, Phill and Matt were working to get me back to the main group and I didn’t comprehend why. I found out on the last mile when they called the three first timers to the front to lead the group to the finish line… This is why:
A bucket list ride is definitely best shared with friends. My daughters are photo bombing, Phill is on the right, Mike is in the middle. I’ll remember that ride and what my friends did for me till just before I’m worm food. It simply doesn’t get any better.
If you ever find yourself in Harbor Springs, this is a must-ride track. Just keep the water on your left and you’re good.
Oh, and our average pace for that 72 miles from Boyne City to Mackinaw City? Just shy of 22 mph.