Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Tunnel Vision
. . . .

Tunnel Vision

Robert Downes - April 7th, 2008
Call it a party on wheels with world-class scenery. That’s the spin on the 19th Annual Zoo-De-Mackinac Bike Bash, which travels 51 miles along the famed “Tunnel of Trees” route north of Harbor Springs, to a night of celebration on Mackinac Island.
On May 17, more than 2,400 cyclists are expected for the bike tour, which heads north from Boyne Highlands and up the coast of Lake Michigan along US-119. The Tunnel of Trees route is draped with superlatives from travel writers the world over, not to mention carpets of trilliums and lilacs in bloom beneath its leafy bower. Riders continue on through the farmlands and forests of Wilderness State Park and finish with spectacular views of the Mackinac Bridge and a party in Mackinaw City.
But hold on, because the fun is just starting: the entry fee includes a round-trip ferry ride to Mackinac Island for more parties. In fact, the Zoo-De-Mack weekend is considered one of the biggest events of the season for the island’s taverns, hotels and restaurants.

HUMBLE ROOTS
It all started more than 20 years ago when Greg Drawbaugh and some friends from the Detroit area were up skiing at Boyne. “We decided to take a trip to the U.P. and we drove up US-119 to get there,” he recalls. “And I remember thinking, ‘Boy, this is a beautiful road -- it would make a great bike trip.’ So a few years later, the first mountain bikes came out on the market and we decided to make the ride.”
Drawbaugh, who lives in Grosse Pointe Park, was 25 when he, his brother Doug, and a few friends from the Detroit area completed the first tour in 1989.
“There were eight of us riders the first year and we had a great time,” he says. “The next year, we made up a little flyer and I think we had 88 people show up. One of the riders was Steve Kircher, whose family owned Boyne, and he encouraged us to keep the tour going. So the next year we had 250 riders, then 450 the year after that and it grew from there.”
Increasing numbers of cyclists and liability issues prompted the Drawbaughs to turn the tour into a business. Today, what started as a word-of-mouth event, has an elaborate website (www.zoo-de-mack.com) and has garnered a loyal following. It’s possible that more than 2,500 riders will participate this year, despite the tough economic climate.
“It’s a very laid-back event and it’s non-competitive for all ages,” says coordinator Sarah Gough. “You don’t have to be an avid cyclist -- just jump on your bike and do it.”

SUPPORT SYSTEMS
She notes that the tour includes perks like rest stops, sag wagon support and luggage transportation to Mackinac Island. Cyclists also enjoy a pre-ride party at the Zoo Bar at Boyne Highland on Friday night, lunch at Legs Inn in Cross Village on Saturday, and post-ride parties with live music at The Gatehouse (formerly The French Outpost), Pink Pony, and Horns on Mackinac Island.
Riders are transported to and from the island on the Arnold Ferry line, with special extended hours from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. “We take over the whole island and it’s the biggest night of the year at the bars,” Gough says. “The ferries run late because quite a few riders stay on the mainland where you can get a room for as little as $50.”
The tour also includes bike shuttles each way between Mackinaw City and Boyne Highlands. Riders can either park their vehicles in town and catch a shuttle to Boyne Highlands on Friday night, or catch the shuttle back on Sunday. Some elect to cycle the route in reverse.
What about rain?
“We’ve been pretty lucky, so far,” Drawbaugh says. “One year, we passed out garbage bags for the riders to wear, but we’ve never been rained out. Sometimes there are a few sprinkles along the route, but never a wash-out.”
He adds that cyclists may be cheered to learn that Zoo-De-Mackinac is bringing back the popular Biketoberfest this fall. The tour used to run out of Boyne Mountain, but was discontinued. “We’re going to relaunch it at Boyne Highlands in September.”

DETAILS:
Online registration is underway for the Zoo-De-Mackinac Bike Bash, which will be held Saturday, May 17, starting at Boyne Highlands ski resort outside Harbor Springs. The tour is $50 ($60 after May 3), with online registration closing on May 12.
The entry fee includes the pre-ride party Friday night at the Zoo Bar at Boyne Highlands, luggage transportation to Mackinaw City on Saturday, lunch at the Legs Inn on Saturday, round-trip ferry transportation to and from Mackinac Island on Arnold Ferry and post-ride parties on Saturday night. For details and to register, see www.zoo-de-mack.com.

Roll ’Em:
A few other bike tours you won’t want to miss this summer. Please note, affordable early entry fees in the $25 range rise steeply for those who don’t register early...
•The Michigander Bike Tour, which has options ranging from two-to-seven days along the coast of Lake Michigan from Muskegon to Traverse City, beginning July 12. See www.michigantrails.org for details.
• The Ride Around Torch (RAT) on Sunday, July 20. The ride departs from Elk Rapids and runs 62 miles around Torch Lake, with alternative 25-mile and 100-mile routes. See www.cherrycapitalcyclingclub.org for details.
• The Tour de TART on Aug. 8, is a one-way 18-mile ride to Suttons Bay from Traverse City along the Leelanau Trail, with a picnic party at the end of the ride. The entry fee of $25 benefits the TART Trail system. See www.traversetrails.com
• The Leelanau Harvest Tour takes place Sept. 21 on a rolling course around Leelanau County. See www.cherrycapitalcyclingclub.org
 
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