The Connection Runners + [spectating]

Zoo-de-Mack Cycling Tour Recap

Whew, it was a long but fun-filled weekend!

Let me catch you up very quickly: Kevin and I, and a group of friends, hoofed it up north to participate in this year's Zoo-de-Mac 51-mile cycling tour.

The ride begins at Boyne Highlands (a ski resort), in Harbor Springs, MI, and follows a route along Lake Michigan all the way to Mackinaw City, MI. Riders can then either stay in the city or take the ferry over to Mackinaw Island.

It's a great ride, and it was our third year joining in the fun. I didn't ride this year though, but instead drove the route along with another lady in our group, Kara, and met the rest up at various points throughout the day.

However, the trip started off a little shaky when the roof-load bike rack on top of our friends' car literally blew off on the highway, taking two of their bikes with it. Although the bike rack was totally destroyed, luckily their bikes only incurred cosmetic damage. Scary situation though!

Our car pulled off at the nearest exit, which was Pinconning, a little town known for its cheese. (Only in northern Michigan.) We hung out at the CheeseHouse, perusing their finest cheese and meats while we waited for our friends to get their bikes in order and catch up.

We made it to Harbor Springs eventually and stayed in a really nice condo right at the base of the mountain at Boyne Highlands. It overlooked the very nice heated pool that we took a swim in on Friday night.

The next morning, everybody was up early to get their gear together and head out.

My husband wanted to really wow the crowds, so he opted for this lovely tuxedo for the ride. I told you that he had a great fashion sense.

Our friend Kevin fueled up heartily for the ride.

And then Kevin (husband, not the friend) and I managed to snap a nice photo before heading off to prom to the ride.

And then they were off on the ride!

While the six of them rode, Kara and I chatted and drove through northern Michigan countryside. We were going to stop at a "cute little town" but there weren't any. At all. We saw some tractors and a lot of grass, though.

We all convened again, 25 miles into the ride, at Legs Inn for lunch, a random restaurant with an affinity for Polish food and eclectic decor.

But the views from the back yard patio are unbeatable. Riders get to gaze out over Lake Michigan while nomming on lunch and beers.

Kevin, Chris, and Liz even posed for a photo for me.

Kara and I drove through more back country roads before meeting up with the group at the notorious No Name Corner, a spot on the route at mile 37.5. We coined this place NNC two years after stopping here randomly during the ride. There really is nothing special at it, but that's what makes it cool.

Friend Kevin showed off his lifesaver - an empty can in his pocket that quite literally broke his fall a few miles earlier. Ripped up shorts, yes; shredded leg, not as bad as it could've been.

The clan got really Senior Picture Pose-y at NNC.

And then, they were done! Well, perhaps that's easier said. While the 51-mile trek is not something that I'd say you necessarily must train for, it does have it's share of hills and tough spots. The last few miles leading into Mackinaw City can be a total killer.

After some downing some grub at The Dixie Saloon, it was time to take the ferry over to the Island.

Never been to Mackinac Island? Then you must know this: there are no cars on the Island. It's a small place, mostly, so visitors and residents ferry over from the city, then walk, ride a bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage to get around. A little old-timey, but pretty cool overall.

We stayed at this pretty place again this year, the Harbor View Inn. It's clean and smells like my Grandma's house.

After a walk around town on Saturday night, we were pretty pooped and hit the sack somewhat early.

On Sunday, we did a little more sightseeing.

We walked by the pretty public library.

Meandered through town by the carriages (note: the whole "horse and carriage thing" is pretty neat, except the Island sometimes smells intensely of horse poo. Better than harmful vehicular emissions, though, I suppose?)

We noshed on the fine delicacy of FUDGE. Mackinac is known for its fudge, and several shops line the main street.

We walked down to the water and took a nice-looking couples photo with our fancy shoes on.

But before we knew it, it was time to head home. We grabbed a tasty lunch at the Village Inn (with world-famous Bloody Marys) before walking to the ferry dock to go back to a world filled with cars and Wal-Marts.

A very nice weekend indeed!

Even though I didn't end up riding this year, I loved going along to spectate and just to generally enjoy being "up north". There's something so calming about northern Michigan. Sure, there are lots of farms, and I'm still not quite sure where people go to grocery shop, but you really can't beat the pure beauty of the green, rolling landscape, the scenic lake views, and refreshing feeling of being with a bunch of great friends in a great place.

Tell Me: What do love most about the state you live in? What would you want potential tourists to know about it?