Saturday, June 21, 2014

Zoo-de-Mack Bike Ride Recap

Last weekend (UPDATE: I never finished this post, so this was now over a month ago.  Oops.) I attended the Zoo-de-Mack bike ride from Boyne Highlands to Mackinaw City.  I had heard amazing things about this event in the past, and was really looking forward to it.  It's not a race...more like a giant bike party.  :)  From the race website: 

"The Zoo-De-Mack is a weekend of huge parties with great bands, one of the most scenic bicycle rides in the country, a lot of sunshine, views of the mighty Mackinac Bridge, and one magical island. The Zoo-De-Mack is NOT A RACE but a gathering of approximately 4000 outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy a little physical exercise together in one of the most beautiful areas in the state of Michigan."

Sounds great right?  So I had really wanted to do it but the idea of finding hotels and figuring out the logistics all by myself and everything seemed like more work than I was willing to do, so I had almost decided NOT to do it, when I saw an event through the Michigan Adventure Club (MAC) on where they had already booked cabins and basically had everything planned.  Fun people to hang out with included!  Win!  I paid $60 for the "race" registration through the Zoo-de-Mack website, and $40 for lodging for two nights with the MAC.  Plus gas for the 4 hour drive there, and 4 hour drive back.  I convinced a friend from my running club to come along with me, and we were off!
This is pretty much what my floor looks like every Friday, because I seem to be always packing to go SOMEWHERE recently.  Hence the lack of writing! 

We stayed at cabins at Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground in Mackinaw City both nights.  They were really nice and cheap and I'd definitely recommend them.  Lodging up there for this event can be tricky, because it's a one way event.  There are a lot of options.  You can stay Friday night in Boyne Highlands (BH)and attend the kick off party, then do the bike ride Saturday and stay at the end in Mackinaw City (MC) or on the island.  They have shuttles and things to accommodate this but since we stayed both nights in MC I can't speak to their efficiency.  The drive from MC to the start at BH was a good 30-45 minutes I think.  We didn't attend the kickoff party, which was kind of a bummer, because it was supposed to be a really good time, from what I've heard.  We did hang out with the other club members around a campfire with some booze, but it was sooooo cold that it wasn't that fun.  I think it got into the 30s that night.

Apparently I didn't take any good photos of the outside of the cabins. 

Electric heat and running water and REAL beds.  This is what I like to call "princess camping".  :) 

I should've brought a hat and gloves like this girl did!  #dumb
We woke up Saturday morning and consolidated bikes and vehicles and headed out to Boyne Highlands to the start line.  One of the guys I was with was absolutely hilarious.  He had wine and cheetos for breakfast, and then strapped on a camelbak full of WINE for the 50 mile bike ride.  Craziness.

Loading up some bikes....

Wine guy. 

Start line.

Our group, getting ready to ride!  I'm 2nd from left.  
We started the ride at about 10:30am I think.  Our group separated pretty quickly because we were all different speeds, but we met up at a few key points along the way (scenic overlooks, lunch, etc.).  I stuck with my friend Alex that I had carpooled there with.

The ride wasn't super challenging.  There were definitely some hills, but I wasn't racing, just riding at a comfortable pace so it was fun.

Course map from my GPS watch. 
I was surprised by the fact that there weren't any real "water stops" along the route.  All the stops were purchase only.  Like, there would be a porta potty and a tent and you'd go up to get water but they were only selling stuff for a $1 or so each (water, soda, candy, hot cocoa, etc).  It appeared to be mostly fundraising for groups like boy scouts and such, but I just would have liked to know that in advance.

Another thing I learned the hard way was that there isn't much in the way of restaurants or gas stations on the way from Mackinaw City to the start at Boyne Highlands.  I had planned to get a coffee at McD's in the morning, but there was none to be found.  Luckily, there was this weird greenhouse/cafe/shop/wine tasting place on the course that was open and sold us a couple of coffees fairly early in the ride.  The day got a LOT better after that!  (We didn't sleep much the night before, mostly because it was pretty cold in that cabin in the back room.

There was a lunch stop where food and beverages were included in your registration fee.  The lunch was pretty good.  There was an option of turkey sandwich or PB&J.  I opted for the PB&J, which was definitely the right choice.  My sandwich was ginormous!

My PB&J and Alex's turkey sandwich.  PBJ FTW! 
Post lunch recovery

People chilling at the lunch stop
Across the street from the lunch venue

Also included in your registration fee was a ferry ticket to get to and from Mackinaw Island one time.  One nice thing was that if you didn't use it during/after the event, you could keep it and use it any time all season long.  The island is supposedly a huge party after the event Saturday evening.  Some people also go over to the island on Sunday to do more riding.  In our case, we did neither.   We ended up driving back late Saturday night, due to some unforeseen circumstances.  I was super bummed because the post-race festivities sounded really fun and were a big part of the draw of the event, but oh well.  I would definitely do the race again.  Maybe next year I'll take a few friends up and we'll have a blast :) Below are some more photos of the event, including super-safe-selfies-while-cycling!  ;)

Posing with Lake Michigan
Action shot! 
Everybody wants a shot with Lake Michigan 

Love this one.  Glad it wasn't mosquito season yet. 

Google Auto-awesome'd this photo series into a .gif.  Neat! 
(Sorry this post was mostly photos and minimal words.  The next few probably will be too, as I try to get caught up here...)


  1. I never really knew anything about this ride and it sounds very cool. I like your style of "princess" camping" too - cool cabin! It looks like a fun day.

  2. That gif is awesome! I love all of the adventures you go on. Makes me want to tag along just to people watch!

  3. umm i am so SO doing this with you next year!!!!!!!!!!!


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