From humble beginnings as a fun weekend outing, the Zoo-De-Mack Bike Bash has just the success story you would want it to. Gearing up for their 23rd annual event, the organizers and participants in Zoo-De-Mack have grown the event organically, their consistently impressive turnouts fueled by simple good vibes and good people.
The event itself consists of a 51-mile bike ride along scenic paved roads, stretching from Harbor Springs to Mackinaw City. The trip starts at Boyne Highlands Resort, and takes riders through a gorgeous Michigan landscape, including open countryside, trillium-filled forests, beaches, and along 400-foot tall bluffs with an incredible view of Lake Michigan.
Currently, the Bike Bash is larger than ever, with 3,500 participating riders in 2011, but it wasn’t always this way. The ride actually started as a fun trip for 8 friends, with no intention of becoming a business or widely advertised event. After a great time their first year, the event originators decided to advertise for the same ride the following year, and had 80 participants! The numbers grew to 250, to 450, to 650 in just a few short years, and organizers knew they had something special on their hands.
Scheduled for May 19th, 2012, the Zoo-De-Mack is punctuated by parties, beginning the night before in Harbor Springs, and after the ride on Mackinac Island. Friday’s events include a pre-party at the Zoo Bar at Boyne Highlands, and a recommended stop at the Railside Bar and Grill (in Elmira, MI) for a famous Potato Burger. The Friday night party features live music and charity Big Wheel racing! Saturday morning, Boyne offers a pre-ride breakfast of great, high-energy foods for the day’s ride. The group stops at Legs Inn for a hearty lunch 25 miles into the ride.
A modest entry fee, $55 through May 5th, $70 from May 6th through May 19th, includes the pre-ride party on Friday night, luggage transportation to Mackinaw City, lunch at Legs Inn, the finish line party in Mackinaw City, round-trip ferry transportation to Mackinac Island, and access to the post-ride parties at The Crossing (afternoon) and on the island in the evening. Parties on Mackinac Island are at The Gatehouse, Horns, and The Pink Pony.
Riders should be prepared for any type of weather (it is Michigan after all!), though temperatures are typically in the 60s/70s. Riders should also bring a helmet, sunblock, bike lock, ID (to pick up registration packet), cash for the ride, Camelbak or other means of hydration, a backpack, comfortable clothing for the ride (padded bicycle shorts are best), and walkie-talkies (poor cellular reception).
With the event growing in popularity every year, this is an awesome time for bike riders, Michigan enthusiasts, and outdoors lovers of all ages. The ride is divided into two 25-mile sections, and riders have the option of only participating in one leg of the journey. With safety precautions in place, and an “at your own pace” attitude, the Zoo-De-Mack Bike Bash isn’t just for hardcore cyclists, though riders should be prepared for a long trip. This is a great chance to get some exercise, see some beautiful scenery, attend some awesome parties, and connect with thousands of other Michigan lovers! See you there!
A hearty Polish sausage and kraut lunch at Legs Inn is the ultimate challenge to see if swimming within 30 minutes of eating will really shorten your life.