Zoo de Mack, a first timer’s perspective

I have not participated in many bicycle tours. I hit the Kal-Tour pretty regularly, but not much else. I honestly don’t know why except that I tend to work in the summer and race cyclocross in the fall. There’s not a whole lot of time left over for organized stuff.

Earlier this year my brother and sister-in-law asked us if we’d like to take a road trip with them to do Zoo De Mack. I didn’t know a darn thing about it, but agreed, largely because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a weekend — riding bikes with the people I love.

Later, I looked at the website and saw that it appeared to be a bike ride wrapped around something that looked like a cross between Key West and a frat party. I immediately called my brother who assured me that the ride was cool and that we’d pass on all of the other stuff.

And so we did. We stayed at the very excellent Birchwood Inn (dog friendly, btw) just outside of Harbor Springs. Because we got a late start (hello, life of a small business owner), we shuttled a car to the end point in the morning. We did this so we could be on our own schedule and so that the day could warm up a bit.

How was it? Crazy. It was 50 miles of a helluva lot of people. Some were on super-light carbon fiber Italian bikes with deep dish carbon wheels. Other folks appeared to have purchased their bikes from Target yesterday. Or twenty years ago and they had been stored outside ever since. There were awesome bikes and total pieces of crap. The continuous sound of unlubricated chains made me very sad. There were so many people on bikes that the general rules of riding (e.g., two abreast, stay to the right) were thrown out the window. I will say this: the route was breathtaking, with beautiful views the whole time.

I know. OK. I know. It’s a tour, not a race. However, The Kid and I were on our tandem and The Kid does not like to loiter. She likes to go. So, largely, we went. I was shocked by the number of folks wearing headphones with the music (apparently) cranked up to eleven. I was shocked by the number of folks riding in the wrong lane. I was at least a little shocked by the number of people who in no way considered that they were riding in the middle of a large number of people. Dangerous? I wold say no. Did you need to be on your toes? Yeah, especially if you were going moderately fast.

I conclusion, it was absolutely fantastic seeing so many people on bikes. Really: it was great, really refreshing. Yes, I was a bit unnerved by the lawlessness, but that’s probably more a reflection on me than anything else. I would not mind riding that route again, but I’m not sure I’ll do it as part of that particular tour. You mileage may indeed vary.