The Zoo-de-Mackinaw is an organized biking event that offers the opportunity to ride 51 miles from Boyne Highlands to Mackinaw City, with a stop at the 25-mile mark at the Legs Inn in Crossing Village for a box lunch. Some (Including my wife, Marcy and sister-in-law Nancy) join up with the event at the Legs Inn and only do the final 25 miles. The “Zoo” in the name of the event refers to the “Zoo Bar” at Boyne Highlands where the 4,000+ entrants pick up their event packets, and party late into the night before the ride.
Ok, here is photographic proof that you can mount 3 bikes on a Fiesta. It’s tight. I had to loosen the stem and rotate the handlebars on my bike (the one on the left) to clear the flat bar on my sister’s new Specialized Vita, but I got ’em all on. Interesting difference in tire widths from my Secteur on the left with 25mm tires, Tricia’s Vita with 28mm tires, and Marcy’s comfort hybrid with 44mm tires.
We went for dinner at Nonna Lisa’s restaurant in Mackinac City on Friday night. Here are Mike (my brother) and his wife (Nancy) at the restaurant. Yes, those seem to be Christmas decorations in the background! Typical weird tourist town place, but the food was very good, if a bit pricey. No complaints.
Marcy and my sister, Trish at Nonna Lisa’s
Marcy & I (with dead, stuffed wild forest creature looking on) at Nonna Lisa’s on Friday
This is a look at the USCG Ice Breaker Mackinaw berthed at Mackinaw City. I’m really just playing with the zoom on my new camera here.
This was the three-piece band at the Zoo party. Pretty damn good.
Mike and Nancy at the Zoo party.
One of the activities at the Zoo party was Big Wheel racing – make a donation to a charity (never did figure out what the charity was) and get to race adult-sized Big Wheels around a course made up of chairs in a large meeting room.
Unfortunately, the shot I got of this team from the back blurred, but these were the “Fat Bottom Girls” according to their T-shirts.
This was another one of the enthusiastic (and slightly drunk) group of participants.
The morning of the ride, at 6:30 AM, Mike, Trish and I biked over to the parking lot of the Arnold Transit company, where a shuttle took us and our bikes the 45-minute drive to Boyne Higlands. It was cold and overcast (about 45*), and folks on the bus were watching on their cell phones as a large area of rain moved into the Northern Michigan area. The forecast was predicting a 50% chance of rain, but it looked to be 100% at that time.
We got to Boyne, got our bikes, and got them under cover as it started to rain pretty good. We decided it was a good time to take advantage of the Boyne’s excellent breakfast buffet, and see what the weather decided to do. By the time we’d eaten (enjoying the company of a couple from Chelsea, MI), the rain had let up, so we headed out…
Here we are at the crest of one of the many hills (or what passes for hills in Michigan – this is the area that hosts the state’s major ski hills (Boyne Highlands is a ski resort). Mike and I both clocked a maximum descending speed of 33 mph, and that’s with us riding the brakes, so the uphill efforts were well rewarded.
Yes, the road looks a little wet. It started raining again after we’d been on the road about 20 minutes, and continued for about an hour and a half.
I’ve been on a number of organized rides, and I think I saw more flats on this ride than any other. No-one seemed to know why, though I understand that a couple of years ago someone deliberately sabotaged the course with something that caused hundreds of flats. I also understand that the organizers ran around the route with a pickup, handing out tubes to participants to help keep them on the road. Nothing so sinister seemed to be the case this year, so maybe the road surface (asphalt – maybe chip seal on some sections) is just tough on tires.
Here we are taking a break while my brother, Mike fixes his flat. He came around a corner and felt his rear wheel get a bit unstable, and here we were…
That’s my sister, Trish with her brand-new (like only been around the block a couple of times with it) Specialized Vita. She has yet to get the post-purchase fitting, but was very happy with the bike. On my recommendation she didn’t swap the OE Specialized saddle for her old gel saddle, and it seemed to work out fine for her.
I observed that even though it was raining, it was really only a steady drizzle, and that as long as we maintained a good pace (around 13-17 mph) it evaporated almost as fast as it collected. Besides, once you have a bike under your ass, everything else kinda fades into insignificance…
This is a section where Lake Michigan is visible on the “tunnel of trees” section of the ride. It had warmed up to about the mid-50’s, things had dried out a bit, and everything was feeling really good.
Here are Mike, me and Trish in the “Tunnel of Trees”
One of the last sections before reaching the Legs Inn for lunch at the halfway point ran along some nice dunes west of the Mackinaw Bridge. One little annoyance was the midges that make an appearance for a couple of weeks this time of year. They’re little black flies of some kind that travel around in swarms. They don’t bite or anything, but do like to land on light-colored surfaces (brides at this time of year hate ’em when they’re trying to be photographed in their wedding dress along the shoreline!!). Anyplace close to the water you can encounter clouds of these little “Mackinats”, and you gotta try to avoid inhaling the little buggers.
Marcy & Nancy joined us at the lunch stop at the Legs Inn. That’s me carb-loading and getting some electrolytes via potato chips with Nancy and Marcy.
Late on the second half we encountered one of the piss-and-water stops that the organizers had along the route. This one just happened to be directly across the road from this party store, and there were probably a hundred cyclists hanging around outside this store drinking beer. Like there weren’t pitchers of the stuff waiting for them at the end of the ride in Mackinaw City!!
At one of these pit stops, it seemed to have warmed up to about the mid sixties, so I stashed the rain jacket I’d been wearing all day. Unfortunately within about a half hour we’d come around into a pretty brisk headwind, encountered some hills to bring out a little sweat, and the temp probably dropped 5 degrees. Needless to say, by the time Marcy and I got to the finish line, I was freezing. That post-ride hot shower felt MARVELOUS!.
Otherwise, this was the best ride I’d had all season. The tush felt amazingly good after 51 miles, and my hands were a little cramped and sore, but nothing to be in the least put out about.
The registration packet includes a round-trip ticket to Mackinaw Island on Saturday night after the ride. Here are some pictures of Marcy & I, my brother Mike & his wife Nancy on the ferry to Mackinaw island, looking forward to some brewskis and dinner.
Trish, me, Mike and Nancy.