MANITOULIN—Over 130 cyclists from across Ontario toured the Island this weekend as part of the 4th annual Manitoulin Passage Ride. The Ride is a two-day event organized by the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) and is clearly making a name for itself. This year’s ride reached its largest turnout ever.
The Passage Ride kicked off at South Baymouth on June 8. Many cyclists had found their way up Bruce Peninsula to roll off the ferry Saturday morning. The Ride included free passage aboard the Chi-Cheemaun, ensuring a good showing of folks from Ontario’s south.
The weather on Saturday was absolutely ideal. The sun was out, the air was cool, and there was even little wind to speak of. Saturday’s ride ultimately took all participants from South Baymouth to meet in Mindemoya in the evening, but accommodated for all levels of cyclists. MICA’s itinerary offered four different options of different lengths for participants to choose from.
The shortest route was a 32 km route from South Baymouth up Hwy 6, west along Government Road, and straight up Yonge Street into Mindemoya. The second was a 52 km route which kept along Government Rd. through Providence Bay and back to Mindemoya up Hwy 551 and over along Hwy 542. From Providence Bay riders could extend their tour with a either 69 km route up to Spring Bay and back west from there, or the 104 km route, which looped up to Kagawong and back into Mindemoya by way of Hwy 540 and 551.
There were designated support stations all along the way where riders could top up on water and snacks provided by MICA volunteers. Riders who stopped over in Providence Bay were invited to participate in a Land Art project on the beach, organized by 4Elements Living Arts.
Saturday evening ended with a delightful dinner and music event at Maja’s Place in Mindemoya, where cyclists recovered and had time to connect with other cyclists.
Sunday’s ride began in Mindemoya with three optional routes. The first, a 43 km route directly back to South Bay along Hwy 542, a 77 km route up to Manitowaning and back up Hwy 6, and a 90 km route up Gilbraltor Road and through Rockville and Bidwell Roads, joining Hwy 6 in Manitowaning.
Lunch was held at the Kicking Mule Ranch on Hwy 6 before cyclists either rode back to the south shore to catch the ferry or returned to their homes on the Island or elsewhere.
The two-day ride was unanimously “a blast” and it was inspiring to see the spirit of community arising from a common experience on country roads and love for the simple two-wheeled machine.
The Ride was first organized by MICA four years ago as a celebration of the new bike lanes along Hwy 6. Since then, the Passage Ride has developed into a tradition, connecting cycling-enthusiasts from across Ontario and celebrating new victories for Manitoulin’s cycling culture.
And there was much to celebrate this year. We can now look forward to new bike lanes along Hwy 551 next summer from M’Chigeeng to Mindemoya as well as another step forward in the creation of a Georgian Bay Cycling route. MICA has just handed off the project to the Great Lakes Waterfront Regeneration Trust to conduct an official feasibility study.