By Melissa Wrubel
This article was originally published May 12, 2017
It’s that time of year again … motorcycle season! Time for sunshine, warm air, and scenic road trips.
We will certainly saw plenty of bikes on the road this summer, and the motorcycle enthusiasts who rode those bikes will tell you that there is nothing comparable to a beautiful day and a motorcycle ride.
The Blue Water Area is known for our beautiful water, beaches, boating, fishing, and various year-round sports and activities. The Blue Water Area is a region of Michigan consisting of Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, St Clair, and Tuscola counties. We also refer to this area as “the Thumb.”
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Motorcycles have been around since the late 1800’s, and have had an array of purposes throughout the years. Bikes are used for convenience, affordability, adventure, etc. Have you ever wondered what makes someone so passionate about riding a motorcycle? Possibly you have thought about it at one point or another. Or maybe you have thought “I’ll just stick with cars. Cars offer protection from the cold, rain and wind, while motorcycles leave you open to the elements … and danger. I am not sure why anyone would choose a bike over a car.” Rest assured because I had a wonderful conversation with local Blue Water Area motorcycle enthusiast, Jerry Mercurio, and asked him all about what makes this pastime so enjoyable. Hopefully by the end of this article you will have a new insight into the exciting world of motorcycle enthusiasts.
Being a motorcycle enthusiast is something that goes deeper than just owning a bike. There is heart behind it … a bond. Fellow bikers become family, and family tends to protect each other, laugh together, gather to enjoy meals, and share a special companionship. It was intriguing to listen to Jerry tell about rides with local friends. His adventures show how eventful and enjoyable the group rides are, making you want to head down to your local motorcycle shop, check out the bikes, and sign up for a beginner training course! During my hour talking with Jerry, I couldn’t help but think back to the days when we owned a Harley. The carefree feeling of the wind blowing on your skin. The close proximity to the road and everything else that seemed within reach while on a bike. Experiencing the world from a motorcycle versus a vehicle – indescribable. I can absolutely relate to Jerry’s excitement as he is telling me about his outings. But let me allow him to tell you his stories in the upcoming paragraphs.
To Jerry, the Thumb of Michigan is a gift to our area … a hidden treasure. There are beautifully paved roads, and the people in the Thumb like to see motorcycles come through their towns. Sometimes, police officers will direct traffic and help the group of bikes through traffic lights easily. The group typically rides on weekdays because the traffic is lighter. Lighter traffic means safer travel. Townspeople welcome motorcyclists as long as the noise is kept down and the speed limit is respected. Jerry and his crew like to make certain stops along the way at their favorite restaurants, which are always family-owned businesses. Support local people… and tip the wait staff well!
Here are a few of Jerry’s favorite places to visit when out on a ride:
- Rose Bud Cafe – Clifford, MI – Lapeer County – (989) 761-7438
- TIP: The bean soup and homemade baked goods are marvelous!
- McPherson’s Family Restaurant – Millington, MI – Tuscola County – (989) 871-4565
- TIP: Amazing bakery with 9 inch cinnamon rolls!
- Bay Port Inn – Bayport, MI – Huron, County – (989) 656-9911
- TIP: The perch baskets are amazing!
- “Cheeseburger Festival” – Caseville, MI – Huron County – Caseville Cheeseburger Festival
- TIP: We always eat at a charitable or volunteer organization in order to support their cause. Also, eating in an outside atmosphere is better than going inside to eat!
- Franklin Inn – Bad Axe, MI – Huron, County – (989) 269-9951 – Franklin Inn
- TIP: The buffet is excellent!
- North Branch Bar and Grill – North Branch, MI – Lapeer County – (810) 688-2736
- TIP: Get the Prime Rib Specialty!
- Hollywood and Vine – Silverwood, MI – Tuscola County – (989) 843-5985
- TIP: They have the BEST BURGERS around!
- The Bank 1884 – Port Austin, MI – Huron County – (989) 738-5353
- TIP: The lightly battered lake perch with lemon is excellent!
- Rybak’s Ice Cream Store – Grindstone City, MI – Huron County – (989) 768-0071
- TIP: The BIGGEST ice cream cone BY FAR!
- Kingswood Outfield Restaurant – Kingston, MI – Tuscola County – (989) 683-2000
- TIP: Lisa’s Thursday night BIKE NIGHT, beer+burger $6
- Verona Tavern – Bad Axe, MI – Huron County – (989) 269-2493
- TIP: Great lunch and food!
- Kayla’s Kafe – Decker, MI – Sanilac County – (989) 635-2453
- TIP: A great place for a meeting point
Jerry’s favorite ride each year is the Hot Dog Ride to Lighthouse Park in Pointe Aux Barques on Lake Huron. The group of motorcyclists meet at Birchwood Mall in Fort Gratiot, and ride together up the Thumb for a fun-filled afternoon of grilling, eating, and enjoying each others’ company. Jerry said that he probably cooks 90-100 hot dogs each year for the Hot Dog Ride! Although this ride is his favorite each year, Jerry’s all-time favorite place to take his bike in our beautiful state of Michigan is the Keeweenau Peninsula. The Keeweenau Peninsula is the nothernmost part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The beautiful scenery is like none other! After Jerry talked about his favorite place to ride in Michigan, I had to ask him what his favorite ride has been so far outside of Michigan. He didn’t hesitate one bit when he said, “Jerome, Arizona! Jerome is gorgeous, and many of it’s residents are from Michigan!” A few other favorite places he has had the opportunity to take his bike outside of Michigan have been the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, Daytona Bike Week in Florida (EVERY year!), Tail of the Dragon, a touring road on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, and Key West, Florida. Jerry has been blessed with these road trips, and has also been blessed with the collection of bikes he has owned over the years. Jerry estimates that he has cumulatively owned 60 motorcycles over the years! Now that is quite a hobby! His current collection includes a Honda Gold Wing 1500, a Yamaha 500 SR, a FZ 750, and a 250 Rebel. I would say that that is still and impressive collection of bikes!
Jerry is proud of his Port Huron roots and the motorcycle champions our area has produced. The Port Huron Motorcycle Club is the oldest motorcycle club in Michigan. It is known for promoting safe riding, and for hosting a variety of bike races. Our expert riders from this area include Jack McLane and Leo Anthony to name a few. These riders, and the riders who are solely enthusiasts, share a common bond … friendship. To be a devoted motorcycle supporter requires a love for the sport, a respect for the bike, and recognition as a member of the greatest unofficial family there is.
The next time you see a group of motorcycles out for a ride on a beautiful day, remember the soul behind each motorcycle rider, and the vibrant bond of enthusiasm that unites riders everywhere.