Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Zoo-De-Mackinac kicks up a...
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Zoo-De-Mackinac kicks up a notch

Kristi Kates - May 16th, 2011
Zoo-De-Mackinac Kicks Up a Notch: 3,500 cyclists ready to roll this weekend
By Kristi Kates
It was 22 years ago - 1989, to be precise - that Greg Drawbaugh got a new mountain bike and decided to celebrate that purchase with a little more than a ride ‘round the block.
“I’d ridden the road from Harbor Springs to Mackinaw City a couple of times,” Drawbaugh explains, “so with the new bike, I thought, ‘hey, let’s go bike this thing,’ but with some friends this time. We talked five friends into doing it and went over to the island afterwards.”
The following year, Drawbaugh wrote up “a little one-page flier,” and sent it out to more friends, calling them to meet at the hotel parking lot at Boyne Highlands.
“We had 80 people show up,” Drawbaugh chuckles.

SEVEN THOUSAND WHEELS
From 5 to 80, the experience just kept growing as the years passed. The people who wanted to participate in this wheeled trek from Harbor Springs to Mackinaw went up to 350 people… then 400. Last year 3,000 cyclists did what’s now called the Zoo-de-Mackinac, and owner/coordinator Drawbaugh (his day job is as an accountant) expects 3,500 this year for the 2011 edition of the event, on May 21.
Not bad at all for someone who just wanted to add a little camaraderie to his own bike trip, although Drawbaugh says he had no idea it would get to this extensive of an event.
“Well, we did it just for fun at first,” he says, “and then, after it started getting bigger, after a couple hundred people, I started worrying that someone would get hurt, so we charged an entry fee so we could get some insurance.”

FIFTY-ONE MILES
Now a full-blown business, the Zoo-de-Mackinac’s participation fees cover a wide range of costs for Drawbaugh and his team, including rental facilities, the Zoo-de-Mackinac website, the staff themselves (mostly friends and relatives), and support vehicles for the event.
“We have three or four vehicles out there during the day to help people with breakdowns and flat tires and such,” he says, “a support crew, basically.”
Some people even travel Up North with their friends just for the fun of it, even though they’re not biking the route themselves, but will instead drive along in their cars as a support structure of their own for family and friends who are pedaling their way through.
The Zoo-de-Mackinac course sticks close to its beginnings, still starting right at Boyne Highlands, crossing a little of the countryside, and then heading west out to M-119, past Sturgeon Bay and then inland and up to Mackinaw City.
And just how long does this 51 mile bike trip take? Well, that all depends on you.

SIX SPEEDY HOURS
“People are free to start when they want,” Drawbaugh says, “typically, we try to get everyone moving no later than 11 a.m. Most of the riders start between 9 and 10:30. We end up in Mackinaw City in the evening.”
Drawbaugh can’t, of course, give any medical advice to Zoo-de-Mackinac participants, but he does say that the trek is within reach for most people in good health.
“My comment is that anybody that’s in pretty decent physical condition should be able to do this,” he says, “my mom did it until she was 64 years old. I typically tell people to go and do a 20-mile ride before this, which most anybody can do. If you’re a little unsure, just start early, because you’ve got all day to do it, so you can take your time, stop, rest, and enjoy the day.”
Most people, Drawbaugh offers, ride about 8-10 miles per hour.
“So it’s probably 5 or 6 hours of actual biking,” he says, “if you start at 8 or 9 a.m. and mix up a bunch of stops, you can be done and in Mackinaw City easily by early afternoon.”

IT ALL ADDS UP TO FUN
And Mackinaw City is definitely the place to be after the Zoo-de-Mackinac. Another part of the event is the big post-ride party at Mackinaw Crossings.
“We’re in the second year of our big party,” Drawbaugh says, “so we’re turning everything up a notch there so that everybody has a good time.”
Included in the after-party will be live music, a big tent for the festivities, several sponsors featuring their products, and a pig roast - plus yet another trek, this one over water instead of over land.
“Everyone’s entry fee includes a round-trip ticket to Mackinac Island,” Drawbaugh explains, “so most everyone goes to the island, and we pretty much take it over for that one night,” he laughs, “so it’s really fun.”
In addition to the celebration and completion of the bike trek, Drawbaugh says he most appreciates helping his fellow cyclists.
“I would say a lot of our participants are not serious cyclists,” he explains, “they’re just your everyday average person. So it’s gratifying to see that many people doing something they haven’t done before, riding 51 miles through this beautiful area.”
“At the end of the day, they’re proud of themselves,” he continues, “and it’s great to see that many people out getting exercise, which they may not have done were we not there to give them guidance.”

For more info on the Zoo-de-Mackinac biking event or to sign up, visit www.zoo-de-mack.com, or telephone them at 313-821-8414. This year’s event takes place on May 21.
 
 
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