On this sunny late winter day, Whitney and I are off to ride the Mercer Island Loop by Motorcycle.
This road, along with regular visits to Vashon Island, is where I cut my teeth when I first got my motorcycle license. The low speed, the twisties, the general island calmness makes Mercer Island a nice place to get away from Seattle for a quick ride.
To get there, we pop onto I-90 and across the floating bridge, through two tunnels. You can take the carpool all the way into Mercer Island.
I’m a sandwich fiend, so we’re stopping at Homegrown, a local chain of damn good sammies. We split the chicken pesto and added chips and a cookie.
We put the brown bag in the Triumph Tiger’s top box and went over to Luther Burbank Park to sit on a bench and chill out before hitting the twisties.
The reason anyone rides on Mercer Island is this section (highlighted in blue) of East Mercer Way.
And by anyone, I mean everyone. On a sunny weekend, the road is loaded with pedestrians and bicyclists. You should not come here if your plan is to rip these twisties at 50 miles an hour. The road is lined by homes, which means driveways, hidden driveways, intersecting roads, cars not signaling, etc. Blind turns at speed and the sudden rear of a Range Rover are not a great mix.
The high-dollar homes are fun to look at, but watch out for those soccer moms and recumbent bicycles.
Additionally, the police know the popularity of the road, so you might catch some heat from the fuzz if you’re out there knocking off your winter chicken strips like me. Luckily, I didn’t see any police.
All that being true, you can find a whole lot of fun on the Mercer Island Loop. Even though the speed limit is a mere 25-30 mph, but it feels so much faster than that due to the tight turns. The best sense of speed will come from a good rider that can keep it at that speed through these turns instead of the low speed recommended by the yellow signs.
Due to the amount of lean required to stay quick in the turns, Whitney was punching my ribs the whole time. That’s usually an indication that I’m giving it just the right amount of oomph.
Beware the insufferable namby-pamby who doesn’t like you riding your motorcycle on their little island road, though. They might shake their fist, give you a frowny face as you go by, or even try to comment on your blog.
As long as you get away from the bicyclists, the road is pretty open and visibility is good. The shoulder is decent enough that bicyclists don’t take over the whole lane, so you can buzz by without cutting over into the oncoming lane.
When I was first learning to ride, I would do the loop of the whole island, and then double back a few times to ride just this technical stretch to get more and more comfortable with sharper lean angles.
Anyway, that’s Mercer Island! Time to hop back onto I-90 and head home.
Obviously, I suggest you ride the loop, which is the whole purpose of this blog post. But there’s more to see on Mercer Island than just scooting around and leaving. Luther Burbank Park is a great waterfront park. Roanoke Inn has been slinging food and drink on the northern tip of the island since 1914.