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Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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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