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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Part I

By Diane Ursu

The first scenic stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a covered bridge. According to the U.S. National Park Service (Covered Bridge), “Covered bridges, usually associated with New England and Pennsylvania, were developed to protect wooden bridges from rain and snow, which can cause rotting of the timbers. It was cheaper to repair the roof than to build a new bridge. “

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive meanders through the sand dunes along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It is pretty remarkable. Most important, there is a designated bike lane, so I just had to take Jake for a ride.

The challenge of riding the scenic drive were the cross tires, especially since I needed all the help I could get up some of those hills. I would have preferred my road tires, but I just told myself that there was enough debris on the side of the road to justify the cross tires. Of course, I totally lied to myself, because the fall-time debris was just starting, so roadie tires would’ve sufficed . . . and been much faster.

There is a bike lane along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.
There is a bike lane along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

There is some chain-grinding when I put Jake in the easiest gear, so I spent a lot of my climbing time in the second easiest gear. Mind you, the easy gear could be likened to the uncle gear on a road or a mountain bike—with a triple, of course! The fact is that the easiest gear on Jake is harder than what it would be if I actually had a road bike.

This is important information—really! You’re probably thinking, “Sure, Di, it really means something. You’re just rambling. You know that right?” See how well I know you? Isn’t it amazing how I can just peer into your mind and know what you’re thinking right on the spot? ;-)

The colored bands around the tree trunks are related to the health of the trees.
The colored bands around the tree trunks are related to the health of the trees.

Anyway, the Pierce Stocking Drive is pretty short, probably only about 7 or 8 miles; however, this is some serious terrain! I made it up all of the hills rather easily with the exception of the hill after the scenic post number eight, the one with the colored bands around the trees designating the health of those trees. This hill was SO BIG! “How big was it, Di?” Well, this hill was so big that Jake and I stalled halfway up.

The funny part is that my parents were following me in their pick-up truck. Of course, I could go faster around the curves than they could, because I have superior cornering skills, ;-) but the one-ton Chevy Pickup with the 454 engine could make it up the hills a little easier than my little Di engine.

Perhaps this view of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive from the scenic stop number 11, the North Bar Lake, will give you an idea of how steep the hills on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive are.
Perhaps this view of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive from the scenic stop number 11, the North Bar Lake, will give you an idea of how steep the hills on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive are.

There I sat on the side of the road in the middle of that hill huffing and puffing. Of course, this is the part where all of the cars that weren’t previously around went by, including the car with all of the swanky mountain bikes on the back—seriously, they were swanky, like nice Specialized models and such.

Mom and Dad stopped alongside me and Jake and asked if I needed a ride. Even though I was dying and I felt like my lungs wanted to bleed (dramatization), I was too proud to accept the ride, and I could not let a piddly little hill get the best of me. ;-) Mom and Dad went on, and as their truck disappeared around the corner at the top of that blasted hill, I clipped in and proceeded to climb.

The thing I really am proud of is my ability to clip in on a steep uphill. I am gifted when it comes to that.

The view from scenic point number nine was really quite amazing.  Of course, this picture was taken when I drove around the scenic drive a couple of days before my ride.  For scale, notice the person in the lower right-hand corner.
The view from scenic point number nine was really quite amazing. Of course, this picture was taken when I drove around the scenic drive a couple of days before my ride. For scale, notice the person in the lower right-hand corner.

This hill was just before the combined scenic points of nine and 10, which are the sand dune overlooks. I rode into the parking lot to say “hi” to Mom and Dad, and I chatted with another fellow who had just climbed the dune with his girlfriend. It was kind of fun riding into that parking lot because so many people just looked at me with a bit of disbelief. After all, here is an obviously overweight gal riding a funky green bike on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Most people could not possibly conceive of doing such a thing, and here I come along.

Little did I know, the best part of the scenic drive was just beyond points nine and 10. You see, it was all downhill. Aw yeah! and Yee haw! I think I reached at least 40 mph, that day. I can’t remember, but I do know that my dad would’ve been pissed if he knew how fast I was going, cuz he is always telling me that I shouldn’t go that fast on my bike because I’m going to kill myself. Yeah, okay, Dad.

The pine plantation is scenic point number 12, and at the end of the scenic drive where the loop ends and begins.
The pine plantation is scenic point number 12, and at the end of the scenic drive where the loop ends and begins. According to the U.S. National Park Service (Pine Plantation), “These trees were planted before the land became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore…pine plantations are out of place in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.”

The thought of killing myself is not going to make me slow down, cuz it’s just too damn fun, and even if I did kill myself, I probably wouldn’t care after the fact. ;-) With that said, I think I will attempt two rounds on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive the next time I head up to Platte River, because it’s just that good.



One Response to "Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Part I"

  1. Ileana says:

    Nice article. Would you consider writing a guest blog for our the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau website? We could publish this article or you can write another one.

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