by Michael Erskine (Manitoulin Expositor - reprinted with permission)
MANITOULIN—Dozens of volunteers were setting up tables and organizing signup sheets on Saturday morning as the Chi- Cheemaun ferry rounded the bend to arrive at its South Baymouth terminus with a host of cyclists on board ready to set out on the 2017 Passage Ride.
“Today’s blue skies are greeting 150 riders arriving on the ferry,” said Manitoulin Island Cycling Associate’s (MICA) president Maja Mielonen. “We have 240 cyclists signed up in total, the rest are coming from the North.”
Ms. Mielonen noted that she wishes to thank the many folks helping to organize the event. At the ferry dock were representatives of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, thanks to whose efforts the Great Waterfront Trail routes will soon be signed, connecting Manitoulin to the South and North.
Marlaine Koehler, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust was on hand as well. “I am enjoying the Passage Ride for the first time,” she said. “Our organization is working with three others to celebrate that Ontario is already a great place to enjoy cycling.”
Ms. Koehler noted that by next fall, Manitoulin will be forming part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, a trail that stretches over 1,600 kilometres along the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Niagara, Detroit and St. Lawrence Rivers. In its travels, the Waterfront Trail connects 86 communities and over 405 parks and natural areas including wetlands, forests and beaches. The trail is quickly becoming a signature global tourist destination.
“We are happy to welcome folks to travel our safe roads on Manitoulin,” said Ms. Mielonen, whose MICA group spearheaded the push for paved shoulders on Manitoulin Island and the inclusion of Manitoulin on a critical portion of the province-straddling cycling routes that are coming into fruition. She noted that the routes being travelled by the cyclists are part of the 800 kilometres of quiet road cycling.
“We will be cutting the ribbon on the Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury cycling route on June 9,” she noted.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the support we have received from our many volunteers and from the municipalities on Manitoulin,” said Ms. Mielonen.
In partnership with the Owen Sound Transportation Company, operators of the Chi-Cheemaun ferry, the 2017 Passage Ride provides free transit on the ferry for cyclists and their bikes. Arriving in South Baymouth, cyclists on the Passage Ride were able to drop their baggage off to waiting accommodation providers, who moved their luggage onto where the cyclists had chosen to lay their heads down for the night.
Support stops for the first day of the ride were located at Providence Bay, at the 33 kilometre mark and Perivale Gallery at the 49 kilometre mark. For those on the very long route, there were support stations at Tobacco Lake (70 kilometre) and again at Perivale Gallery (93 kilometre mark). As the evening drew on, a light snack at the Government Dock pavilion accompanied a viewing of a 4elements and MICA guided sculpture by Central Manitoulin Public School children. Dinner at Maja’s in Mindemoya included vegan bean, potato and vegetable soup, while at the arena ground there was Manitoulin Brewing Co. beer available accompanying a scrumptious pulled pork dinner done by Max Burt with two salads from Garden’s Gate. A live music event entertained from 6 pm to 10 pm at the Mindemoya Community Centre.
The next morning the ride set out from Mindemoya, with a break station at Big Lake (34 kilometre), a lunch station at Kicking Mule Ranch (27 kilometre) with live music on one route, and a break station at Green Bay Beach (51 kilometre) a second support station at Manitowaning’s Loco Beanz (78 kilometre) and lunch, again, at Kicking Mule Ranch (93 kilometre) on the second longer route.
The Passage Ride departed South Baymouth on the 3:50 pm ferry.